In an interview for the “In the Studio” feature in this issue, artist Shahpour Pouyan perfectly captures the central contradiction of religion: “Belief is the most dangerous thing. And it’s also the most precious thing we have as humans.”
The power shared among the artists featured in this issue is their ability to bring religious imagery and allusions into the present. Francesca Tarocco cites Lu Yang as one artist who does so by transmuting Buddhism’s realms of reincarnation, stages of enlightenment, and levels of existence into the world of video games. Monica Uszerowicz describes how a piece resulting from a collaboration between Chire “VantaBlack” Regans and Loni Johnson utilizes ancestor altars suffused with West African Yoruban symbolism for the purpose of mourning contemporary victims of gun violence.
Alina Perez, an artist who brings powerful Christian imagery into her pieces, notes in a roundtable in this issue that imagery of this sort has historically had the power to make people “see and believe, which is scary—but it’s also very inspiring to think that you could perhaps create images that have a place in the future.” Perez has said that, in her special pull-out print included in this issue, the posture of the figure holding a glowing swarm of writhing baby alligators is similar to those depicted in Catholic prayer cards.
In keeping with Shahpour Pouyan’s observation that “belief is the most dangerous thing,” one might reflect on the horrors of world history that have resulted from belief, and how many of those horrors resulted from Christian colonization. In that same roundtable on Christian imagery, artist Frieda Toranzo Jaeger says that, as someone coming from a shamanistic, Indigenous background, she was “always terrified of Christianity, because of the way many of its values are ingrained in society.” When it comes to painting, however, Toranzo Jaeger says that “revisiting and repurposing history is, to me, a core practice of decolonization.” She continues, “I give myself the agency to revisit histories that don’t relate to my background—especially those of the European Middle Ages.”
Indeed, one of the ways in which religion can be precious to us as humans is as a tool for artists to heal the ills of the past, and to imagine—and shape—what is to come.
—Sarah Douglas, Editor in Chief
NEW TALENT: ISABELLE ANDRIESSEN
by Emily Watlington
The Dutch sculptor highlights the persistence and changeability of inorganic components.
Jewish Museum curator Liz Munsell tells us what’s on her mind.
THE EXCHANGE: THE EARTH IS AN ARTIFACT
by Asad Raza with Emanuele Coccia
An artist and an ecological philosopher discuss the dynamic rapport between nature and culture.
HARD TRUTHS: ZINE NOBILITY
by Chen & Lampert
Advice columnists Howie Chen and Andrew Lampert address the frustrations of art book fairs and nonprofit board members.
CRITICAL EYE: LOST ILLUSIONS
by Pepe Karmel
Trompe l’oeil painting and Cubism are formally akin but worlds apart in terms of viewer experience and pictorial meaning.
ONE WORK: CARRIERS
by Emily Chun
Mire Lee’s recent sculptural suite of pumping mechanisms and suspended hoses recalls visceral processes and organs.
PROFILE: STELLA ZHONG
by Mira Dayal
Playing with elements seen and unseen in her sculptures, paintings, and videos, the Chinese-born, New York–based artist probes the limits of understanding.
Eleanor Heartney on Kaelen Wilson-Goldie’s Beautiful, Gruesome, and True: Artists at Work in the Face of War.
Q&A with conservator Julian Baumgartner.
by Francesca Tarocco
The popular notion of a calmly meditative Buddhism is only part of the religion’s long and complex story.
by Greg Allen
The soaring temples and tabernacles of the Church of Latter-day Saints connote both heavenly aspirations and refuge from social persecution.
by Monica Uszerowicz
Works by Kurt Nahar, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Nyugen E. Smith, and Chire “VantaBlack” Regans and Loni Johnson attest to the ongoing vitality of Afro-Caribbean spirituality.
PICTURING THE HOLY LAND
by Chelsea Haines
For photographers and filmmakers, representing the Palestinian-Israeli region is a tug-of-war between religious myths and sociopolitical reality.
IN THE STUDIO: SHAHPOUR POUYAN
with Jordan Amirkhani
Born in Iran and currently based in London, the conceptual sculptor talks about his lifelong fascination with Islamic architecture, high-tech weaponry, global mythologies, and ancient philosophy.
SEEING & BELIEVING
moderated by Emily Watlington
Four painters—Frieda Toranzo Jaeger, Tammy Nguyen, Alina Perez, and Jannis Marwitz—discuss their bold reinventions of traditional Christian iconography. A special pull-out print by Perez accompanies the article.
“THE FIRST HOMOSEXUALS”
Wrightwood 659, Chicago
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
David Zwirner, New York
“HEAR ME NOW”
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Nicholas T Rinehart
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Davidson, New York
Diana Seo Hyung Lee
56 Henry, New York
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
Charlene K. Lau