Boglárka Éva Zellei: Furnishing the Sacred
This series approaches the visual language of contemporary Christian communities through the environments used for immersion baptism. Although this ceremony is basically a two-thousand-year old form of christening, every place has a different religious tone. The intimacy of the event excitingly meets with the profane needs and possibilities, the tradition with the contemporary taste, and unique approaches. Everyday objects are arranged so that they provide new connections and gain new meanings. Their intention is to feel at home while trying to bring the transcendent world to these places. This project is focusing on the human aspect and it shows the side of religion which is continuously formed and built by humans. These images are constructed in a similar way to emphasize the viewer’s own cultural habits and reflections. As the environment changes around the figures, we can observe how it shapes our visual concepts of religion and the sacred.
Péter Sz. Németh: Oh, Lord!
People often say “Oh, Lord!”, “Jesus!” or “Have a blessed day!” These expressions, despite having religious origins, hardly have a direct connection to their initial meanings anymore; they have turned into common phrases.
Our belongings go through the same process, as we are surrounded by countless religious symbols, the origins of which are long forgotten. Either they depict lesser-known motifs, for example characteristics for the identification of saints, or on the contrary, they have become everyday items and thus lost their original meaning, like the motifs of sheep or angels. While Christian symbols surround us in every moment, we fail to notice them; we don’t even think about the reason they are there or their actual meaning.
The environment of these objects enhances this effect. Residue from different times pile up, resulting in curious conjunctions, which make the understanding more complex. Why is a lonely, ten-meter tall, uncompleted statue of Jesus standing next to a grocery store? Who “left” the Jesus sculpture next to the sidewall of a well in the Fiume Street cemetery? And who placed a candle in front of it?
I have taken most of my photos in public spaces, as I am interested in situations that anyone at anytime can experience. My intention was not to highlight, frame, or isolate the subjects of these pictures, but rather to present them as they were; in their true environment, which often turns them absurd, funny, even grotesque.
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Éva Szombat: If Even Jesus Smiles on the Cross
- Lilla: They accepted us the way we were.
- Janó: We agreed to that bullshit of not having a sex life until we got married.
- Lilla: He asked me to marry him, I said yes, and then came the pressure to go by that. So I called the whole thing off, and hooked up with his best friend.
- Janó: I tried to be self-reflective, to explain why this had happened. I’ve realized how ignorant I was toward her needs.
- Lilla: In a few months, I had yet another full enlightenment, and calmed down. Thank God, Janó held on and forgave me.
- Lilla: Guilt and shame. We felt burnt out, and started to shift away from the community. We saw it falling apart. We saw how hierarchical and careerist it was. The women, the leaders’ wives were the worst. In the hierarchy, a woman is only allowed to act solely in her husband’s shadow.
- Janó: Everything was fine behind this shell, but everything sucked outside it. It had to crack, still we carried it inside us, but it cracked there as well. While this was happening we discovered Lőrinc Borsos. Art was our escape route.
For me, the icon is a synonym for home. My Orthodox grandmother’s flat is full of them, and she even presents me with one for each holiday. They comprise the warmness, the best home cooking, and the laughs that follow family quarrels. I’m not religious, but still, I fill my walls with them, probably because of this feeling of home.
During a spiritual retreat last year, I had a prayer experience about the Shroud of Turin being exposed to the light of resurrection. That image of Jesus is similar to the negative in photography. The light of resurrection radiated through it. I’ve painted a picture based on the shroud. As a result, when I stand in front of children and teach them about Jesus and God, I feel I have to radiate Him.
© 2020 The copyright holders of the photos, the authors of the texts, the Archabbey of Pannonhalma