Artist: Lech Majewski
Venue: Church of San Lio
Held in a church within Titian’s old parish, Lech Majewski’s Bruegal Suite is aptly placed for a film placed at an art-historical and religious intersection. Parts of his film The Mill and The Cross, based on Peter Bruegal’s The Way to Calvary, are shown on separate panels around the altar and nave. The film title (The Mill and the Cross) is taken from Michael Francis Gibson’s book of the same title. In Gibson’s book, Christ’s Passion is set in 1564 Flanders. The sections of The Mill and the Cross shown on the panels are a mix of near-twee three-dimensional animation and grotesquely vivid historical realism. The near-twee animation contains vignettes of pastoral Netherlandish life, mostly dynamic and playful but some saccharine, all of which are foregrounded by the painter’s profile, overseeing his creations. This part of Majewski’s installation is least likely to be of interest to the viewer, unless they are quite keen on distracted themselves from the gory cruelty of every other screen’s scenes of death and mourning.
Devoid as it is of in-depth explanatory texts, one draws the conclusion that either, as with most contemporary art, the prerogative of deciding ‘content’ is the viewer’s or, that maybe it’s conceptually a relatively straight-forward piece (which is not to detract from it). Emotionally powerful and historically acute, Majewski’s videos draw one to quite uncomfortable conclusions about how sanitized crucifixion is in religious iconography and how such an atrocious, tragic means of death could ever be justified, let alone placed at the centre of the world’s largest religion. Majewski strips back the metaphysical majesty of crucifixion, undermining it by forcing your eye onto the tragedy of such a senselessly brutal method of murder. Something one suspects is lost on most of Christianity.