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Of Material Vows

10 perforated stainless steel sheets, 135x90x225 cm, 2024

The practice of votive offerings – symbolic artefacts left by individuals all over the world to be displayed in a designated space as a form of donations for divinities – crosses cultures, religions, geographies and historical periods. It is a manifestation of the attempts of humans to enter into an exchange and communicate with supernatural forces, with entities and powers that are beyond our human perception of a temporal world. Representing both a wish and a gesture of gratitude, they express the human desire for health, love, compassion and empathy, usually depicting human or animal figurines, shields, helmets and treasures, or body parts such as hands, eyes, ears, hearts and uteri.

In the Christian world - and especially in Catholic, Southern European context - such votive offerings are called ex voto, “from the vow” in Latin. These are silver, aluminium or steel plates in standard shapes, that are left by worshippers and pile up to their hundreds and at times thousands, decorating church walls, corridors and altars.

'Of Material Vows' focuses on the point in which the individual hope for health meets the industrial, capitalist economy, where personal prayer meets mass production, where spirituality meets the physical world. The installation consists of ten large perforated sheets of stainless steel, the supposed leftovers from the production of ex voto pieces.

Suspended from the two upper corners to the ceiling, each of the steel sheets is perforated with a replication of a different body part - feet, hands, hearts, torsos, intestines, breasts. The large rectangular pieces are hanged in a row facing each other, creating a multilayered image that one can look through - an industrial landscape of the human body. The one-size-fits-all holes, at times clearly indicating the missing body part and at times leaving the viewer in doubt, attest the many people that would have been using the actual pieces that are missing in the work for the sake of their healing. The ten sheets are remains from an assembly line in a factory, immaterial pieces of material that were used to open a channel of communication between humans and deities and fulfil grand spiritual promises.

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