The Holy Artwork
Christian Jankowski (1968-)
The Holy Artwork
Video installation, color, sound, 16:30 min.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Film and Video Committee and Bert A. Lies
Rights and Reproductions Information
© artist or artist’s estate
Christian Jankowski filmed The Holy Artwork in Harvest Fellowship, a Baptist church in San Antonio, Texas, with the full participation and collaboration of the church’s pastor, a televangelist preacher named Peter Spencer. The video is simultaneously a work of art and a sermon; it was shown as a regular broadcast of the pastor’s weekly television show and screened in gallery contexts by Jankowski. At the beginning, Jankowski collapses as he approaches Pastor Spencer’s podium. The pastor nonetheless continues uninterrupted, his speech drawing parallels between art and biblical creation, likening an artist’s creativity to god’s work forming the world. Made while Jankowski was in Texas for an artist residency program, the video nonetheless grew out of longstanding interests. In particular, it was inspired by a painting that Jankowski admired in Spain, Saint Dominic in Soriano ri, by Juan Bautista Maino (1578-1649), in which an angel takes up the brush of the painter who appears to have suddenly died. For Jankowski, who encountered a preponderance of Christian video on Texas television, The Holy Artwork gave the seventeenth-century theme a contemporary, local resonance, questioning the role of spirituality in art while also poking fun at the mass-media spectacles created by the religious entertainment industry.