Sacred Tensions

Until the beginning of September, Agata Rogo? curates the group showFrom the Sunniest Day to the Darkest Night at Zak Branicka, an exhibition incorporating the work of Maja Bajevic, Adrian Paci, Igor Grubi? and Hubert Czerepok. Here, the four artists focus on the tensions inherent within religion; the tensions between morality and power as well as between peace and conflict. If you’re craving a an exhibit that makes you think, this is the exhibit for you!

Held in the high profile building, Lindenstrasse 35, where galleries are bursting from the woodwork; try to stay blinkered as you climb to the third floor. Spaces full to the brim with art swarm around the staircase, trying to lure you inside. Ignore them, save them for your way out and continue upwards as what gallery Zak Branicka currently has to offer is definitely worth your full attention.

Upon entering, what I noticed first was Hubert Czerepok’s installation; “Salvation Islands” stood in the middle of the floor, bathed in yellow spotlight. The polish artist presents three piles of holy books, each ridden with bullet holes. Through effectively littering the pages of history with violence, Czerepok asks us to consider the politicization of the sacred realm.

Hypnotic Persuasion

Hiding away in the back room was the most powerful work of the show; Maja Bajevi?’s “Double Bubble.” The unpretentious yet evocative video features a woman vocalising the words of men. The intensity of the central character’s gaze combined with her consistent repetition (I go to church, I rape women, I go to church, I rape women….) has an almost hypnotic effect, drilling the moral hypocrisies of religion into the viewer’s mind. As she stares into the lens, it seems as if she stares into our very soul, rooting us to the spot and forcing us to engage with Bajevic’s piece.

Also found within the small yet surprisingly spacious exhibition space is “Angels with Dirty Faces,” the video and photography pieces by Igor Grubi? focusing on the miners’ protest at the Kolubara (????????) mine in Serbia and Adrian Paci’s film PilgrIMAGE documenting the transfer of a painting of Madonna, “born aloft by angels” returned to its birthplace of Shkodër, Albania.

This is a powerful exhibition leaving you with more than enough to think about. It challenges our perceptions of not only religion but also art and the purpose of its aesthetic; celebrating the creative medium as a tool for raising awareness and provoking debate. 

  • Zak Branicka “From the Sunniest Day to the Darkest Night,” June 23 – September 8, 2012, Tues-Sat 11am – 6pm.
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