“100 Artists See God”
Through Jan. 9

“I have too much respect for the idea of God
to make it responsible for such an absurd world.”

-- Georges Duhamel

Whether or not we believe in God, we all live in a world that is profoundly influenced by concepts of God.

This "100 Artists See God" exhibition acknowledges the prevalence of religion and spirituality in contemporary art, culture and politics and brings this controversial subject to the forefront of artistic debate.

In tackling the question of how God is perceived and represented in contemporary culture, artist-curators John Baldessari and Meg Cranston invited one hundred artists each to respond to the challenge of illustrating 'the divine' in a single artwork.

Each artist contributed a single work, which represents their translation of the infinite into the temporal.

The exhibit includes a wide range of works by several generations of artists created in various mediums -- photographs, drawings, paintings, single-channel videos and sculptures.

Shown above: Drug cabinet
Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst’s God is a cabinet filled with painkillers. Jeremy Deller submits a bumper sticker reading “God Less America.”

Eleanor Antin offers a tableau of post-eruption Pompeii, representing God as destroyer.

In contrast, there’s the "God is Love" take of Andreas Gursky’s "Love Parade," a reference to the yearly techno festival in Berlin. Although maybe that’s more like...divine hedonism, a throwback to Bacchus or the Eleusian mysteries.

Micol Hebron sees the divine present in the individual, presenting a film dedicated to herself, whereas Gerhard Richter’s "Gray" is a simple, monochromatic canvas on which every viewer can, figuratively, paint their own version of the divine.

Ed Ruscha also presents an image in gray; in his version, the shades of gray become progressively darker as they descend toward the lower part of the canvas.

Alternatively, looking upwards, the shades lighten until they are nearly pure white, suggesting light dispersing the darkness.

Leonard Nimoy submits a vision of God as the female principle, in "Shekhina." The image is part of a series from Nimoy’s Shekhina Project.

According to the Kabbalah, evil came into the world once God became separate from the "Shekhina," the deity's feminine counterpart.

The Shekhina came to symbolize the female aspect of God, also the creativity and wisdom without which no human being is complete.

Actor/director Nimoy turned to photography as a means of inquiry into the mysteries of the Shekhina. "I have imagined her as ubiquitous, watchful and often in motion..." Nimoy says in the introductory text to the book; "This work is my quest for insight, the exploration of my own spirituality..."

"100 Artists See God" deals with faith as a subject and continues the art-historical tradition of religious imagery in art, without necessarily reflecting the doctrines to which the artists subscribe.

Shown above: “Mirror #8”, (1972)
Roy Lichtenstein

The works in the exhibition do not present conventional illustrations of established creeds, rather the artists' subjective interpretations of spirituality that collectively form a reflection of the ambiguous and pervasive ways in which this subject exists in our lives.

Statements were also written by each of the participating artists, discussing their work within the context of the exhibition theme.

"100 Artists See God" is a travelling exhibition organized by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York.

Participating artists: Reverend Ethan Acres, Terry Allen, Jo Harvey Allen, Eleanor Antin, Brienne Arrington, David Askevold, Lillian Ball, Cindy Bernard, Andrea Bowers, Delia Brown, Edgar Bryan, Angela Bulloch, Chris Burden, Mary Ellen Carroll, Erin Cosgrove, Michael Craig-Martin, Jeremy Deller, Sam Durant, Jimmie Durham, Nicole Eisenman, Katharina Fritsch, Jonathan Furmanski, Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, Liam Gillick, James Gobel, Jack Goldstein, Scott Grieger, Andreas Gursky, James Hayward, Micol Hebron, Damien Hirst, Rebecca Horn, Darcy Huebler, Christian Jankowski, Larry Johnson, Mike Kelley, Mary Kelly, Martin Kersels, Nicholas Kersulis, Martin Kippenberger, Rachel Lachowicz, Norm Laich, Liz Larner, Louise Lawler, William Leavitt, Barry Le Va, Roy Lichtenstein, Jen Liu, Thomas Locher, Daria Martin, T. Kelly Mason, Rita McBride, Paul McCarthy, Carlos Mollura, JP Munro, Bruce Nauman, Jennifer Nelson, Eric Niebuhr, Leonard Nimoy, Albert Oehlen, Catherine Opie, Tony Oursler, Jorge Pardo, Simon Patterson, Hirsch Perlman, Luciano Perna, Renée Petropoulos, Raymond Pettibon, Paul Pfeiffer, Nicolette Pot, Richard Prince, Rob Pruitt and Jonathan Horowitz, David Reed, Victoria Reynolds, Gerhard Richter, Susan Rothenberg, Nancy Rubins, Glen Walter Rubsamen, Allen Ruppersberg, Ed Ruscha, Pauline Stella Sanchez, Kim Schoenstadt, Jim Shaw, Gary Simmons, Alexis Smith, Yutaka Sone, Thaddeus Strode, Diana Thater, Mungo Thomson, Thorvaldur Thorsteinsson (in collaboration with Helena Jonsdottir), Jeffrey Vallance, John Waters, Marnie Weber, William Wegman, Lawrence Weiner, Benjamin Weissman, James Welling, Eric Wesley, John Wesley, Franz West, Chris Wilder, Christopher Williams, Steven Wong, Måns Wrange (in collaboration with Igor Isaksson), Mario Ybarra, Jr.

Shown/header image: "Shekhina" (2000)
Leonard Nimoy
Photo: Leonard Nimoy Photography

Find it: Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)
The Mall and 12 Carlton House Terrace
Get there: Tube to Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus
Get info: +(0)20-7930-3647

Find art events in other cities, in the DEC/JAN issue of "Arte Six."


Leonary Nimoy comments on the Shekhina Project.