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Bill Viola’s 2014 video work “Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water)”. Vanhaerents Art Collection

New media in a Cathedral 0

The international new media art exhibition Update_6 has chosen Sint-Jacobskerk in Ghent as a venue

Ghent is, undoubtedly, one of Belgium’s most picturesque cities. For centuries, its name has been linked to the art world by way of the Flemish painters and brothers Jan van Eyck and Hubert van Eyck, and their 1432 artwork the “Ghent Altarpiece” (also known as “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb”), which was created for Saint Bavo Cathedral. However, for a few weeks (through 4 December), another holy site in Ghent – which now functions as a “cultural church” – will be coming under special attention. And this time, contemporary art is at the focus. The Gothic cathedral Sint-Jacobskerk has been selected as one of the venues for the Update_6 international new media art exhibition, as organized by Zebrastraat Kunstplatform. Featured in the cathedral will be works by the vibrant South Korean new-media artist Lee Lee Nam, as well as Bill Viola’s 2014 video work “Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water)”. The latter, a four-part, 7.15-minute-long video, is a decidedly singular and historic work of contemporary art, not to mention a very impressive piece of modern-day sacred art (it is exhibited on a permanent basis at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London). The presence of “Martyrs” in Ghent is due to the initiative of St. James and the generosity of the Vanhaerents Art Collection. Art collector Walter Vanhaerents has always underscored Viola’s significance in the development of video art as a manifestation. In answering Arterritory’s inquiry as to the possible connections between the two artists, Vanhaerents accented the differences between these two practitioners of new-media art. And yet, he also searches for unifying aspects, pointing out that in this case, this could be the religious-based themes utilized by both artists (Lee Lee Nam’s work, in fact, was created specially for this project). Monumental life themes have always been at the center of Viola’s works – birth, death, the soul, love, suffering. A main characteristic of Lee Lee Nam’s body of work, which is closely linked to digital and video art, is studying the relationship between traditional culture and the world of modern-day technology. Lee Lee Nam’s solo show is currently on view at the Zebrastraat Kunstplatform gallery.

Bill Viola’s 2014 video work “Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water)”. Vanhaerents Art Collection

Bill Viola’s 2014 video work “Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water)”. Vanhaerents Art Collection