The Insufficiency of Images

Gert Jan Kocken2012 - 2013

Kochi-Muziris Biennale

Kochi-Muziris Biennale

In sixteenth century Northern Europe, the literal interpretation of the Second Commandment led to the ‘Iconoclastic Fury’, in which reformist zealots attacked religious art. Often the images were not completely destroyed, but maimed and scarred instead. In this way, the iconoclasts created new images that represent their convictions; image breakers are image makers. Triptych Breda; Madonna with child and donors, Zwolle; Madonna with child, Geneva; and Thomas Becket, North Burlingham (of the Defacing series) consist of photographs of such images.

The three busts are based on the literal translation of a text by the 18th century Swiss scientist Lavater. Lavater founded the discipline of ‘physiognomy’, which is based on the assumption that a person’s character can be deduced from his facial characteristics. He became obsessed by the idea of using his science, in a reverse process, to reconstitute the face of Jesus, despite being a reformist priest nominally opposed to any such effort. For if Jesus was the perfect man, certainly his face would be completely virtuous. He issued written instructions to several befriended artists but was always dissatisfied with the result. For this piece the three Malayali sculptors Sanul K. K, Anoop Kottekatt, Vinu V.V and closely followed the literal translation of Lavater’s instructions, not knowing that this would be the face of Christ. The booklet which completes the exhibition piece, documents the research of the artist into the three monotheistic religions’ love/ hate relationship with images.

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  • Title: The Insufficiency of Images
  • Creator: Gert Jan Kocken
  • Date Created: 2012 - 2013
  • Location: Pepper House, Kunnumupuram, Fort Kochi, Kochi, KL 682002, Kochi, Kerala
  • Type: Installation and photography
  • External Link: http://kochimuzirisbiennale.org/gert-jan-kocken
  • Medium: Installation and photography, Wood, terracotta and booklets
  • Place Part Of: Kochi, Kerala
  • Embassy / Agency Support: The Embassy of The Kingdom of Netherlands
  • Dimension: Size Variable

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