Show Title: A Secular Conundrum
Series: Conscious Reflections
Show details: PV Thursday March 14, 2019 5:30-8:30 pm, one night only The Asylum Chapel, Caroline Gardens, Asylum Rd, London SE15 2SQ, UK
Works in Show:
Kristina Horne, A Meaning in Question, 2019, Steel frame, Cast right hands, Cast male right hand and neon halo, Neon Text "What is Crooked Cannot be Straightened What is Lacking Cannot Be Counted", Flesh Toned Cast Resin Cubes, Mirrors
Kristina Horne, Lacking, 2019, Neon Text 'Lacking', Steel
Kristina Horne, Higher Lower, 2019, Steel, Neon Text 'Higher Lower'
“If today we are uncomfortable with the idea of the transcendent, if many reject the idea entirely, while others can discover it only in a religious context, it is largely because we have a degraded sense of the human. That is why to read Marilynne Robinson, to gaze upon a Rothko, to listen to Olivier Messiaen can feel so essential. For some it may be to surrender to a religious experience. It is also, paradoxically, to remind ourselves what is truly human about the human condition.”
Kristina Horne has become known for her striking large scale sculptural works that address a tension-filled intersection - in both its similarities and differences- between contemporary religious and secular thought. As such, her works act as a portal to unpacking a range of complex binaries between belief and non-belief and the human and divine- whilst offering a new approaches to transcendental aesthetics, looking for a resonant, universal language with which we can explore ‘spiritual’ questions in a highly politicised contemporary age. Horne’s monolithic structures are imbued with otherworldly presence, and are characterised by a contrast between both the minimalist arrangement and a corporeal manipulation of industrial materials.
Following her graduation from the Royal College of Art, Horne has continued her examination of the binaries between the religious and the secular, by conceiving an exhibition series that debut sculptural works for one night within deconsecrated sacred spaces. The first of these exhibitions took place in the Crypt, Marylebone, whilst her latest iteration of the ‘Conscious Reflections’ series - will take place at The Asylum Chapel, Peckham in March 2019, and debut three large scale neon, resin and steel sculptures. These impactful ‘one night’ site specific exhibitions seek to dissolve boundaries between the secular and religious through a powerful placement and application of symbolism and conceptualism.
The allure of the religious space presents artists with an extraordinary opportunity, rarely offered by a gallery or museum, to inscribe their visual language onto an enduring and imposing concrete reality. The intersection between spirituality and the contemplation of art remains a powerful symbiosis, encouraging philosophical and cross cultural exchange.
To place artworks in these environments, the work cannot be conceptually isolated from its religious context, inevitably finding itself beholden to some larger framework of meaning. Repurposed for raw theatre or as a contemplative backdrop - works deliberately placed in these environments force the viewer to question how they respond to – or react against – their divine origins. In her staging of these exhibitions, Horne pushes the reception of her artwork into the transcendental realm. As we are invited to encounter these monumental structures, for a limited time, within such a setting, I argue that Horne manifests a supernatural experience akin to that of the ‘holy vision’.
The central work titled A Meaning in Question consists of two large rectilinear steel frames that host hanging chains and cast resin right hands of a female palm and single male hand surrounded by a neon halo. In front, a series of mirrors reflect a fragment of the words as well as confront the viewer upon departure. The neon lettering, written in reflective form and forwards,drawsdirectcitationoftheBible-Ecclesiastes1:15. ’Whatiscrookedcannotbestraightened;whatislackingcannot be counted’. The verse from Ecclesiastes most likely means that because of human nature and willfulness, anywhere we find human actions, we also find disorder and incompleteness. We see irregularity and deficiency. Not only that, but we also discover mankind's utter inability to truly fix them or fill in what is lacking. By placing such direct Blibical citation inextricable to arrangement of universal sacred symbolism such as the palm, Horne blurs the boundaries between religious and secular meaning and raises questions about broader contemporary socio-political landscape.
For Horne, sacred texts provide a warehouse of endlessly adaptable narratives whilst symbols are mined for their meaningful connections, and invoke the viewer toward a contemplative repose. Calling on the composition of a road sign in her new sculptural works, and the deliberate application of neon lettering, Horne’s sculptures query subliminal receptions of symbol and meaning in a secular age- forging a lineage between religious symbolism and the tropes of commercial advertising. By returning to and connecting with a purity of approach to thought and symbol, we are able to tackle broader views on our relationship to the secular world.
Historically, and in the minds of most people today, the sacred in art is, inextricably linked with religious faith. There is, however, another sense in which we can think about the sacred in art. Not so much as an expression of the divine but, paradoxically perhaps, more an exploration of what it means to be human; what it is to be human not in the here and now, not in our immediacy, nor merely in our physicality, but in a more transcendental sense. It is a sense that is often difficult to capture in a purely propositional form, but one that we seek to grasp through art or music or poetry. Transcendence does not, however, necessarily have to be understood in a religious fashion, solely in relation to some concept of the divine. It is rather a recognition that our humanness is invested not simply in our existence as individuals or as physical beings but also in our collective existence as social beings and in our ability, as social beings, to rise above our individual physical selves and to see ourselves as part of a larger project, to project onto the world, and onto human life, a meaning or purpose that exists only because we as human beings create it.
Cassie Beadle - Curator