Objects of Devotion and Desire
Medieval Relic to Contemporary Art
Curated by Professor Cynthia Hahn with the assistance of MA and MFA students from Hunter College and PhD students from The Graduate Center
January 27 – April 30, 2011
The Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Art Gallery at Hunter College
Medieval reliquaries—beautiful containers that seek to glorify religious relics, which might include bits of body, shreds of cloth, or even merely dust—are difficult to assess in terms of standard art categories. Their authorship is in question and, for many, their status as art is compromised by their link to religious superstitions. Above all, they demand the cooperation of the viewer. In contemporary art, these same issues are frequently subject to examination. With recent emphases on the abject, the body, memory and its construction, the meaning of materials and objects, and the participation of the viewer in the creation of the work of art, a fresh look at reliquaries has particular resonance for contemporary artists and audiences.
Objects of Devotion and Desire includes five Medieval reliquaries borrowed from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which take up a dialogue with artworks by Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Noel Brennan, Olafur Eliasson, Melissa Hacker, Nate Larson, Eva and Franco Mattes, Jeffrey Mongrain, Gayil Nalls, Ishmael Randall Weeks, Stuart Sherman, Hiromi Takizawa, Hannah Wilke, Bryan Zanisnik, and examples of early photography.
This exhibition is supported by Nellie and Robert Gipson.
The accompanying catalogue is made possible by Hester Diamond.