Sunday, 13 November 2011

It started with one

'Do you have more collections?' my teacher asked. 'No' I replied. But on my way home I started laughing when I realized that I have been collecting since I was a child. And while I was biking back home they came rushing back into my memory. From stamps and Disney VHS collections to Madonna singles or more recently the My Little Pony items. Collecting fascinates me and items are gathered and ordered during a specific period of time. I even collect stuff I find on the streets that maybe 'one day' be turned into art. This so called (trash art collection) is the hardest to keep in control. Sometimes I have parts of windows, chairs and lamps stored in my studio for months. Never using them. The right moment doesn't occur. On other occasions they assist me in making new connections. And I start composing, looking and shaping them into a different form. These readymade objects are stored together. See Wireless Scream from 2008 bellow. Once they've found their form they will only be used in their own specific composition.

Wireless Scream 2008

Besides the physical collection there is my nonphysical collection. The one I had almost forgotten about, the one that was stored on my extended hard drive. The collection of images of the Blessed Virgin Mary was created in 2008. In the first few weeks the picture based gallery was organized on: -date -subject and -painter. I started the collection with the intention to get more insight in the different apparition forms of this Saint. Due to the vast amount of information my research became bigger than only the visual form. I felt the need to try and understand what happened to the Blessed Virgin, which tales were favourite by artists (over time) and how do you archive a vast amount of images? Not only did I have to face several apparition forms but I also had to solve the different titles that were addressed to her. There are a total of 79 Catholic titles for Mary; the Mother of Jesus Christ. 

Virgin in prayer by Giovanni Battista 1640-1650

-Mary Queen Of Heaven
-Blessed Virgin 
-Blessed Lady
-Mother Of Grace

-Mary Mother of God

-Queen of angels

-Woman crowned with stars

-Mystical rose

-Holy Mary

I decided to stick to one title, for me she is the Blessed Virgin Mary. As my collection grew bigger I was in need for a different system. I found it fascinating to see the changes that occurred when I ordered my collection on subject rather than date. It was then that I realized that collecting had its own dynamics and regulations. Five personal preferences arose:
 1) Annunciation 2) Assumption 3) Immaculate Conception 4) Mother and Child 5) Mary in    Prayer 

Screenshot of 12 Annunciation paintings from between 1489-1576 on my hard disk

When I started to investigate her life in the ‘art world’ I discovered a number of important events. But only part of her legend can be found in the Gospels (of Matthew and of Luke), many facts of her life were written much later and her cult was established only in the late Middle Ages (300 years after the birth of Christ). In fact, even though it is not possible to establish an exact chronological point for identifying the date of Mary’s birth, the Church has always been aware that Mary appeared on the horizon of salvation history before Christ. 
It is a fact that when ‘the fullness of time’ was definitively drawing near She who was from eternity destined to be His mother already existed on earth! Who were the parents of The Blessed Virgin? The life tale of Mary starts at the marriage of Joachim and Anna, who had been barren for many years. She was born pure and stainless, beautiful and full of grace, thereby demonstrating , that She was free from the law and of sin.

Coronation of the Virgin by Diego Velazquez 1641-1644

The following episodes from the life of the BlessedVirgin are reflected in the fine arts:

1) Birth of Mary
2) Presentation of the Virgin in the temple
3) Education of the Virgin
4) Marriage of the Virgin
5) Annunciation
6) Visitation
7) Second Annunciation
8) Death of the Virgin
9) Assumption of the Virgin
10) Coronation of the Virgin

The research possibilities seemed endless with The Blessed Virgin as a subject. Going through the images and dates I noticed that there were no 'official' colors for the Blessed Virgin. 
Pictures of Our Lady of Mount Carmel have her in brown,
Our Lady of Prompt Succor has her in golden robes,
Our Lady Help of Christians and Our Lady of Guadalupe images have her in red and blue,
Our Lady of Perpetual Help images have DARK blue and red,
images of her as Our Lady of Sorrows usually have her in dark blue only,
and plenty of icons of her will have her purely in red. 

Coronation of the Shepherdess 2008
By this time I felt the collection was nearing completion but there was a missing element. My knowledge about the subject had grown. I had learned about the dynamics of archiving and applied the experience to other collections such as my own working process at the Rietveld. Where photo's and videoclips were ordered in maps and archived by year. This improved the vision on my body of work. And would come in hand later when making my portfolio. It was after I bought the Old and New Testament that I noticed a male dominance in the writings. That made me wonder about the Blessed Virgin. I started to think what it would be like if She was the one who received the commandments on mount Sinai instead of Moses. Out of curiosity I began painting. Integrating the research into 8 large (1.20m x 1.60m) mixed media works. The Coronation of the Shepherdess was on display at the DOGtime exposition in December 2008.

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