Blessed are the merciful
Groepstentoonstelling in Feiger Contemporary, New York.
Curator: Jerome Jacobs.
Zie ook www.feigencontemporary.com.
Blessed are those who are sensitive to the misery and misfortune of others.
The world today revolves around a few key elements: money, power and religion. It's impossible to know where to turn to, given the indifference of friends and the hostility of enemies. Our planet is heading towards global haggling, and piety has once again become a weapon of mass manipulation and a means of taking, keeping and justifying power.
Yet never before has the expression of religion been so far removed from its roots and from the way in which it was originally expressed. Far from being a belief or philosophy of compassion and love, it is often corrupted by abusive, omnipotent fanaticism. In our western eyes, of course, it is Islam - as expressed by terrorists and other extremists - which has become the standard example of this abuse of religion. Yet the abuse of Islam is not, by any means, the only example of abuse of a religion. Christianity is also re-living a sombre era with an upsurge in fanaticism, a schism between believers and increasing extremism.
Science is evolving, explaining, frightening and dehumanising. Money is building, accumulating and dividing. The human dimension is becoming lost in this globalisation of its being which is diluting and isolating it. The media are underpinning this abuse of the spirit in favor of the material. Consumption of television programs is replacing citizenship, freedom is being stifled and democracy is turning into autocratic populism. Lies are invading the public arena.
The response of the financial, political and intellectual oligarchies is formidable and effective: silence those who think. Panem et circences, food and amusement. Above all, there is new religious opium aimed at making us believe that the only way to return to basics is through austerity, a withdrawal into one's shell and denial of the other. The only landmark is God and the privileged few who can understand and interpret Him for you. Even the authenticity of 'love' is controversial. This word explains everything, forgives everything and validates everything because we never try to find out exactly what it covers.
Religion, dogma and nationalism are nowhere concerned with compassion, love and discovery of the other, but rather with severity, hatred and judgement of others. A great feeling of fear of God and of the other. This feeling that we face divine punishment for every pleasure, every convenience, every freedom and liberty we gained so painfully in the past century.
It is vital to give back to collective life a decency that it has completely lost, and to private life a substance that it never really acquired.
This exhibition endeavours, not without humor and a jarring ironic tone, to inculcate a sense of conscience through the surprising works of these twenty-four artists, and to bring us back to the roots of our Western faith: compassion and consideration of the misery of others.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." Matthew 5:7
Jerome Jacobs, January 2006
Independent curator and gallery owner (Aeroplastics, Brussels)