"One for the money, two for the show…"

News Sep 04, 2009 No Comments

“A SILENT, ten minute video of young music fans letting loose in front of rock gods playing on stage has won the main award at this year’s Blake Prize for religious art. The $20,000 prize went to 32-year-old Sydney artist Angelica Mesiti for her video work Rapture (silent anthem).It was filmed from a concealed position beneath the stage at the Big Day Out earlier this year, as hard rock and metal bands played to the audience. Mesiti, though, would prefer viewers not to place too much emphasis on the actual location of the film and concentrate instead on the ideas of spirituality suggested in the piece. She said the work was exploring the “extreme experiences” when people become lost in the moment outside sanctioned religious spaces. “I was just interested in these notions of worship and ecstasy and transcendence and where they’re actually found in a contemporary setting,” she said. Christopher Allen, The Australian‘s national art critic, said of the winner: “Ecstasy is cheap.” And of the show overall, he was less than impressed. “The show itself is fairly lacklustre,” he said. “There’s very little that has any inspiring sense of the religious or the spiritual.”

Sydney artist wins Blake Prize with ‘religious’ video, The Australian

“I thought it was a bit of a long shot because it isn’t the most conventional treatment of religious or spiritual kind of subjects, but I’m really glad that they’ve shown that there’s a willingness and an openness about those subjects,” [Mesiti] said. The winner of the John Coburn emerging artist award, Grant Stevens, also used digital video to show how the internet is changing the way people discover themselves. “I was quite interested in how MySpace and other online forums like that are now these venues for self-definition and self-identification and self-reflection too, and often that text involves reflection on likes and dislikes,” he said. “I guess I was interested in how those things now might stand in for other more traditional forms of reflection or spiritual endeavours.” The chairman of the Blake Society, Reverend Rod Pattenden, says the winning works show the sometimes traditional prize is heading in a new direction.

Blake Prize awarded to video artwork, ABC News

“True to the Blake’s history of provoking debate, it got a lashing last month from the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, who cited what he saw as “anti-religious” and kitsch work, singling out among the finalists Adam Cullen‘s depiction of David and Goliath and photographer Belinda Mason‘s Christ-like 3D image of Brisbane’s suspended Father Peter Kennedy. Mr Pattenden said he saw the exhibition as “wonderfully educative and I hope that religious leaders who might see this as potentially blasphemous might come along and learn something”. The exhibition is on view at the gallery of Darlinghurst’s National Art School, where the awards were held, until October 3.”

How videos killed the painting stars, SMH

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The Art Life

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