Summer 2001 International Artist-in-Residence Program

The Holy Artwork

About the exhibition

Christian Jankowski is interested in dialogue and communication. But what happens when art intersects with magic, fortune-telling, psychology, and religion? Orchestrating improbable encounters between individuals in seemingly unrelated fields, Jankowski allows the unpredictable nature of human interaction to shape his work.

The performative structure of Jankowski’s projects—resulting primarily in video, photographs, and installation—blurs the distinctions between the staged and the real. Whether by having a magician turn him into a dove for the duration of an exhibition (My Life As a Dove, 1996), or asking a television psychic if his work will be successful (Telemistica, 1999), or going to a therapist to analyze his inability to make new work (Desperately Seeking Artwork, 1997), Jankowski transforms existing cultural structures into environments that clearly exhibit artifice yet occur in reality. The resulting artwork materializes from the process itself.

For his residency at ArtPace, Jankowski continues his personal inquiry into the potential of exchange. Like his previous projects, the artist draws from surrounding social and cultural conditions to construct a framework of discussion. Approaching a religious leader in the San Antonio area, Jankowski poses the ultimate question: what makes a work of art holy? The piece is formed by the ensuing dialogue between artist and minister, each bringing their expertise and experience to the conversation. Leaving room for poetics, humor, irony, and sincerity, the work addresses questions of spirituality and the divine. What may seem an unlikely topic for contemporary art in the 21st century, in fact, generates a larger narrative about artistic inspiration and transformation. Videotaped in the format of an evangelical television program,

The Holy Artwork evokes the legacy of religious art while presenting a contemporary take on the religiosity of art (or perhaps the art of religiosity) in today’s society.

Other works in this cycle