Video by MONA productions // Nov. 18, 2016
This month, König Galerie presents ‘The Others’, a group exhibition that challenges established ways of portraying ritual and the body within Christian iconography. Curated by artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, the exhibition reveals a conceptual take on site-specific art: prior to being a gallery, the site at St. Agnes was a Catholic church, built in the architectural form of Brutalism. Through fifteen works by twelve artists, ‘The Others’ disputes moral edicts in religion as symbolised by the building’s former purpose. The pieces reflect a new context of secularisation, and a shift in the meaning of materiality in Christianity and contemporary art.
‘The Others’ disrupts the sacred elevation usually attributed to imagery of holy figures. Works from artists including Mark Wallinger, Young-Jun Tak, and Andres Serrano grant a more earthly presence to religious figures by adopting concerns of race, gender, sexuality and morality. Santiago Sierra‘s performative piece involves the shoulders of two men bearing the weight of a rectangular wooden log, reminiscent of the end of the cross if converted to the site’s Brutalist style. Aidan Shalakhova, Nasan Tur and Pepe Espaliú’s sculptures explore a more conceptual approach to the definition of ‘otherness’, underscoring exclusion and fear.
Through Elmgreen & Dragset’s curation, the exhibition establishes an interrogation of certain Christian morals, which continue to influence law-making and politics at the expense of humanity. It distorts and redefines the archetypal ‘other,’ forming a narrative that creates a new dialogue of dignity for moral and social issues, honouring those defined as ‘The Others’.