1 / 5       © Bettina Rheims, The new Eve II, May 1997, Ville-Evrard. From the exhibition I.N.R.I.
2 / 5       © Bettina Rheims, Le chemin de croix, juin 1997, Majorque. From the exhibition I.N.R.I.
3 / 5       During the visit to the exhibition I.N.R.I. by Bettina Rheims and Serge Bramly. © Stefania Biamonti/FPmag.
4 / 5       During the visit to the exhibition I.N.R.I. by Bettina Rheims and Serge Bramly. © Stefania Biamonti/FPmag.
5 / 5       A moment of the face to face with Bettina Rheims (on the right and on the screen) and Serge Bramly (center) that took place in the context of the Photolux Night. Auditorium San Romano, Lucca, Saturday, November 28th 2015. © Stefania Biamonti/FPmag.

I.N.R.I.

Gorgeous bodies, of men and women committed to embody the figures of Christ and the Virgin, the saints, apostles and many other characters told in the Gospel parables. Almost a visual cacophony, at first glance, and yet those perfect bodies, whose icy beauty reproduced in real giant images reveal little by little an unexpected mystical aura, while maintaining their carnality of individuals. Their earthly humanity.
The title of the work – and the exhibition organised by the Photolux Festival on the three floors of the Fondazione Banca del Monte di Lucca building – is I.N.R.I. (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum = Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews), in other words the titulus crucis, that is the inscription that the four Gospels say were affixed on the cross of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. The authors are the French photographer Bettina Rheims and Serge Bramly, writer and poet, for some time included by the author in the realization of large-scale projects such as this. The first shot of the series was in fact created in 1998 and, from that first click, the two have continued to ask questions anything but simple: «How can it be represented Christ today? How can his life, his actions and his teachings to be communicated through modern means, words we know and that can instill a sense of immediacy? In other words, how can you convey that sense of eternity as it is contained in the words of the Gospel: "I am always with you, until the end of the world"?». Important questions, of philosophical echoes, in which the two authors have tried to respond by giving rise to a series of visions, in some ways contradictory, able to on the whole outline an original rereading of the Gospel, very human and very little religious. A reinterpretation devoid of moralizing, projecting in the Holy Scriptures the world of today, with its places, its customs, its tensions and paradoxes. Here then is a buxom prostitute who assumes the role of a modern Magdalene, a young suicidal that of Judas Iscariot, a pregnant woman as the Virgin. And then Jesus, embodied in a thousand faces, a thousand bodies tattooed and not, with or without piercing, dressed or naked, now man now woman. It does not matter. Behind the dazzling beauty of the models involved and the redundancy of gestural art blatantly glamorous you can indeed detect both the evangelical references, and for visual and conceptual transliteration, the many possible habitus of contemporaneity.
The operation is refined and the result on exhibition gives justice to the extensive research carried out by the two authors. «We have set our work on a careful reading of the texts – explain Rheims and Bramly in the text inserted in our catalogue –, working on original sources and trying to combine history and legend, as if they both belonged to these confused times we call the present, and as if we discovered them for the first time. We have therefore followed the example of the artists of the past who have transposed without hesitation sacred stories in their own time, using, for example, the surroundings of Florence as a background». Despite the abuse of beauty (or perhaps thanks to this), the work manages in short, to convey its message. And its dual aim of creating «modern icons» through which it makes the deeper meanings of the Gospel more intelligible, and to use the latter as an allegory of contemporary parallel, seems respected even by the exhibition that receives it, thanks to the selection proposed, the intelligent use of space and the choice of the position of the captions on the ground that show now verses of the Gospel, now the Bible, now quotes of Christian authors or pertaining to the Catholic world. [ S. B. ]

- - -

I.N.R.I.
by Bettina Rheims
Palazzo Fondazione Banca del Monte di Lucca Cavallerizza | 21 November - 13 December 2015
admission fee: 8,00 €

– – –

[ INTERNAL RESOURCES ]
Photolux 2015: the exhibitions
[ video ] Sacred and Profane: interview with Enrico Stefanelli
Photolux 2015 on FPmag

[ EXTERNAL RESOURCES ]
Photolux Festival 2015

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published on 2015-12-21 in NEWS / EXHIBITIONS

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