A real-time new media installation juxtaposing Christ’s journey to the cross with the plight of refugees fleeing the Syrian Civil War.
Lamentation for the Forsaken is a new media installation that juxtaposes Christ’s suffering and journey to the cross with the anguish and plight of refugees fleeing the Syrian Civil War. The artwork is composed of two distinct visual elements. The first is a photographic negative of the Shroud of Turin that has been aesthetically transformed with the names and details of individuals who have died in the conflict. The second is an underlying video stream created from sets of curated news media photographs that portray the lives and hardships of the Syrian people. The combination of these two layers generates an endlessly shifting digital tapestry that oscillates between the iconic image of Christ and the tragic stories of those affected by the war.
The installation is thematically – and physically – subdivided into four equal narrative parts. The base of the artwork shows the legs of Christ interspersed with glimpses of Syrians fleeing their homeland. The next section frames the hands of Christ and draws forth images of refuges trying to help each other survive. The third area focuses on the body of Christ and combines it with scenes of those who have been killed in the conflict. And the artwork’s final view shows the face of Christ blended with the actual faces of men, women and children who have been forced to endure this reality.
As he took his last breath, Jesus cried out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Resurrection must have felt far away in this moment, and later for the paltry few who remained to tend to his corpse. In this work, Takeo offers a lamentation not only for the forsaken Christ, but others who have felt his acute pain of abandonment. In particular, Takeo evokes the memory of Syrians who have passed away in the present conflict, weaving their names and images into a contemporary Shroud of Turin. The Shroud, of course, is itself an image – an ‘icon’ in Pope Francis’ words – better known by its photographic negative than its actual fabric. Takeo’s digital re-presentation participates in and perpetuates this history of reproduction. But the real miracle isn’t the Shroud itself, it’s our capacity to look into the eyes of the forsaken – and see our Saviour.
Stations of the Cross exhibition text by Prof Aaron Rosen
Arriving at Station XIII by Emma Puente - a series of four documentary videos exploring the conception, development, and realisation of the artwork
Stations of the Cross podcast: artist statement and reflection
Stations of the Cross podcast: academic reflection by Dr Jonathan Koestlé-Cate
Prof Aaron Rosen [ curation ]
v1.0: Rev Jonathan Evens and Rev Sally Muggeridge (St Stephen Walbrook, London) [ discourse and support ] . Emma Puente [ video production ] . Ruby Guyatt [ podcast production ] . Cardinal Vincent Nichols (Archbishop of Westminster) and Bishop Richard Chartres (Bishop of London) [ spiritual pilgrimage ] . Rev Carolyn Rosen [ theological reflection ] . Dr Jonathan Koestlé-Cate [ academic reflection ] . Alexander DesForges (Catholic Church of England/Wales) [ press and documentation ] . Drew Baker [ technical research ] . Cilin Deng [ installation support ]
v1.1: Rev Catriona Laing and Arrien Davison (Church of the Epiphany, Washington DC) [ curatorial support ] . Emma Puente [ production and installation support ] . Rev Carolyn Rosen [ theological reflection ] . Ryan Dillon and David Steele [ logistics and technical support ]
Lamentation for the Forsaken v1.0 was commissioned in 2016 for the Stations of the Cross (London) exhibition by Coexist House in partnership with the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme and the Department of Theology & Religious Studies, King’s College London, and additional support from the Mercers’ Company and Art & Sacred Places. Version 1.1 was commissioned in 2017 for the Stations of the Cross (Washington DC) exhibition with generous funding by Trinity Church Wall Street.
Site-configurable new media installation constructed from: 4x low profile 47” LED televisions (arranged in a multi-screen column) with digitally-printed acrylic inserts; Windows 10 computer system capable of 4-monitor control and real-time audiovisual rendering; hidden stereo audio system; and bespoke floor-based structure.