The Conceptual Jesus: Alena Foustkova’s “15 Stations”

The exhibit runs until Easter Sunday, 2018 @ at Saint Thomas Church

The image of Jesus is focal to the Christian faith. Jesus is typically portrayed in churches in a series of paintings or sculpture depicting the last moments of his life, called the Stations of the Cross. Alena Foustkova’s exhibition “15 Stations” takes a conceptual spin on the life of Jesus in the ambit of St. Thomas Church, in Prague’s Mala Strana.

Alena Foustkova, a conceptual artist, and lecturer at the Anglo-American University was so inspired and troubled by current issues in the news, like migration and terrorism, she decided to use modern-day items and objects to represent the most important scenes of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Her “15 Stations” are shown in 15 small frames spread out in a row along three outdoor hallways, in the ambit of St. Thomas church and monastery, so that viewers can follow the journey of Jesus in his last days retold in abstract and conceptual art images.

From the beginning, in Station One (representing Jesus being condemned to death), Fouskova shows multiple images of closed eyes (found and taken from the internet) and in the center, there is one set of open eyes taken from an old icon to represent Jesus’s eyes. This shows how people turned their eyes away from Jesus, yet also how our society closes its eyes to humanitarian crises such as the immigration crisis in Europe.

Station Five stands out as a representation of Simon, who was traveling through the fields and bumped into the procession of Jesus. Simon is then asked to carry the cross and does so with open arms. Foustkova updates this with a landscape of a field with multiple paths to represent the intersection of Jesus and Simon. Her message is to tell visitors to be prepared to help anyone that crosses their path, just like Simon did.

Another standout, Station Eleven portrays Jesus being nailed to the cross. Foustkova shows this with the use of red thread, a nail, and a small cross. Through the use of such simple objects, she displays the nailing of Jesus to the cross, which represents suffering. Her message also conveys compassion, love, caring, and urges a willingness to help others in present times.

With her “15 Stations,” Foustkova says that she is attempting to “represent Jesus’ life in a contemporary way.” This is done successfully by leading viewers through her small conceptual and abstract representations of the Stations of the Cross. Her exhibit is intriguing and thought-provoking even to those who are not Christians. “15 Stations” leaves visitors reflecting on how traditional Biblical scenes and verses can relate to our modern world, and ultimately urges viewers to try harder to lend a helping hand.

Alena Foustkova’s “15 Stations” is on exhibit until Easter Sunday, 2018.

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