Anastasis (άνάστασις) by Giorgio Andreotta Calò

Giorgio Andreotta Calò

Anastasis (άνάστασις), 2018, Light installation, Installation view, Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, Photo by Gert Jan va Rooij, Courtesy the artist and Oude Kerk

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The Light of Dawn

Commentary by

Founded around 1213 and consecrated in 1306, the Oude Kerk (Old Church) in Amsterdam has undergone many changes to its appearance throughout its existence. Most dramatically, during the iconoclastic fury of 1566, statues were removed or demolished and frescoes were overpainted.

Seeing the Oude Kerk as it appears today, ‘empty’ and devoid of decorations, contemporary Italian artist Giorgio Andreotta Calò (b.1979), accustomed to Catholic church interiors, could hardly believe it was still functioning as a living place of worship. Between 25 May and 23 September 2018, he created an installation alluding to the once-present images in the building. Titled Anastasis (Greek for ‘resurrection’), his work sought to explore what the effect of the return of these lost images (as though ‘from the dead’) would be (Oude Kerk 2018).

Anastasis was a temporary exhibition, in which all of the church windows were covered with red foil, and following which a semi-permanent installation in the Holy Sepulchre chapel replaced the clear window glass with coloured red glass. This chapel once housed a sculpture of the Entombment under its baldachin: a reminder of Christ’s Passion and of the blood shed on the cross. Calò’s red light alludes to this sculpture’s ‘presence’: once physical, now virtual in the eucharistic rituals which continue in the church.

The red light also evokes a photographer’s developing room, in the phase where captured images have not yet appeared on paper. Such images are as ‘in between’ as they are in the Oude Kerk: present and not present at the same time. In fact, during the exhibition period, the church literally functioned as a developing room for photographic prints Calò made of the only surviving pre-Reformation stained-glass window (Oude Kerk 2018).

Proverbs does not refer to particular nations or faith communities. There is a universalism to its use of light as a metaphor for developing wisdom (‘the course of the righteous is like morning light, growing brighter till it is broad day’; v.18).

Though its title draws from Greek Orthodoxy, Anastasis reflects this universalism, as ‘resurrection’ is translated into a more general visual language of light. By changing the light, Calo encouraged visitors of all backgrounds, whatever their particular experiences and quests, to transform their perceptions of what was in front of them (and what was once there but no longer). To see things in a different light.

 

References

Oude Kerk. 2018. ‘Giorgio Andreotta Calò–Anastasis’, www.oudekerk.nl, available at https://oudekerk.nl/en/programma/giorgio-andreotta-calo/ [accessed 25 January 2020]