Michael Landy’s exhibition Saints Alive is now showing at the National Gallery, London.
The animated saints are agents of their own bodily destruction, each acting out the process of their martyrdom again and again as a voyeuristic audience looks on.
This work has obvious parallels with my own since it resides within an awkward gap between bodily experience and saintly transcendence. My personal favourite from the exhibition is ‘Doubting Thomas’ who repeatedly bashes his oversize finger against the fibreglass torso of Christ, causing it to wobble wildly back and forth in an alarming manner. Closer inspection reveals that the torso is peppered with ‘peck holes’ made by the probing finger.
Though I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this exhibition I did question Landy’s reappropriation of the 60’s Kinetic Art aesthetic. He acknowledges his debt to Jean Tinguely, yet somehow the retro cogs and whirring wheels just seemed a bit too loud in this case. The beautifully poetic images of martyrdom that Landy has identified could have been afforded a greater degree of power through the use of subtler more minimal aesthetic.
Definitely go and see it if you’re in London.