Iconos : Sagrado y Profano (Icons : Sacred and Profane)
With this exhibition Carlos Zapata explores and examines the use of icons within his personal and extended culture. Depicting a variety of venerated subjects called upon at different points in individuals’ lives, Zapata examines how these icons are appropriated and altered for the benefit of specific people or groups – in particular reference to traditional customs that are modified within contemporary cultures in South America. Zapata originates from Columbia, these are personal reflections on rooted experiences, almost autobiographical retellings of accepted myths and legends, alongside personal parables.
In South America the employment of idols can ocassionaly seem mundane or everyday, but their use also reflects a complicated and difficult society where they are relied upon in times of helplessness. Many search for restoration, stability and protection; while the vulnerable seek aid, reassurance and comfort, and the guilty seek validation and redemption.
Understanding a little more about the origination of the icons depicted, it becomes clear that many have emerged during times of economic hardship or political unrest. Called the ‘cult of crisis’ by anthropologists, characters or devotional aids materialise that people can relate to more readily and are then added to the pantheon of more conventional religious icons. This includes idols that are commonly adopted and used within the criminal underworld that is rife in many areas.
The syncretic nature of particular religions or cults result in their constant evolution - different attitudes or spirits become absorbed, as well as renounced, depending on the locality and the needs of the community or those in power. Often disillusioned with the dominant institutional Church, and its Saints seeming inability to deliver them from hardship, people create their own new religions that reflect their own personal realities, identity and practices.
Olivia Gray, 2013
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