Paradoxes of an Image: Religion, Art and the Problem of Aura


The article discusses the interaction between religion and art, focusing on the problem of aura of artwork. At first sight It could look like in contemporary culture the contexts of religion and art became very distant. As the example of this kind of alienation the article recalls a recent situation in one of Vilnius (Lithuania) churches, when the original sculpture of St. Virgin Mary, created by Lithuanian artist Ksenija JaroševaitÄ—, was replaced by the copy of widely circulated sculpture of St. Mary of Lourdes at request of the churchgoers. In the article this situation also serves as representative model, revealing the paradoxicality of an image, when the power of image (aura) depends not on its authenticity and unapproachability (Walter Benjamin), but on the contrary is related to its proliferation and availability (David Joselit). Referring to the theoreticians of contemporary visual studies (David Freedberg, Horst Bredekamp, Georges Didi-Huberman, David Joselit), author polemises with Benjamin’s thesis, according to which reproducibility of artwork leads to the destruction of its aura. The article states that rethinking the process of art’s reproducibility in a positive way opens up the possibility to discuss the relationship between religion and contemporary art in a new form, however the post-secular approach of this interaction should be taken into account.

Keywords: religion, art, image, aura, post-secularity

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