Relics and Matter

nails and hair relic
nails and hair relic


When researching the definition of “matter” I was interested in the clear distinction between that which is physical and that which is spiritual and cognitive. I questioned this distinction and began to think about rosaries, shrines, relics and other spiritual objects that live in both the physical world and the spiritual. When does matter become more than physical and similarly what exists with in an art work and with out? what are the boundaries of art and its practice?

It is the beliefs of a person that makes God, in all the senses of the word, reside in an object. I recalled the medieval pilgrimages to relics, remains of deceased holy people, that were often fictitious. Through manipulation and contextualization these remains were made into relics. This is mirrored by the manipulation and contextualization of material through medium in art to evoke emotion/ideas/beliefs. The underlying difference being that, generally, religion is used to explain and art to question. However, this depends on the social and political freedom of the time as art can be used to project values as much as it can be used to explore and discover. The art that is made by an artist is determined by the historic and social context of their environment just as much as by the artist’s creative powers. This is especially evident in the fact that what is considered art is dramatically different today than what it was a hundred years ago or fifty ears ago.

By making a relic of my own hair and finger nails I am defing the hierarchy with in many organized religions of who is holy and what is powerful and spiritual in the same way that we may now say that every person is an artist.

Relics and Matter

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