FEAST PROJECT - Video Triptych

Notes on an Indulgence (part 3)

The video installation The Set is another matter altogether. It is neither an archive of real events nor a document of genuine experience. Directed by the artist not to move, predictably, the two children in First Communion attire fidget, giggle, and tremble; thus becoming a recursive statement of actual initiatory communion in the guise of a contemporary virtual space. The missing groom of the child-bride is now present in the form of a gangly, awkward and fetching adolescent boy; 'Jesus as feast' is nowhere to be seen. The girl's facial expressions are exaggerated and the boy's bodily gestures are even more overstated. The large corpus image projected upon the wall is deconstructed into two close-up shots of the male and female subjects that oscillate from one corporal detail to the next and are contained within two monitors set on the floor. This virtual partitioning of their bodies transforms each monitor into a reliquary of innocence filled with bits and pieces of the living. Truth be told; this video of real children is not a holy event, it is artifice, it is less real than the march of virgins across the gallery walls. We can see his and her reflection upon the surface of the floor, but no one is entering the scene from above.”

Catherine Clinger, “Notes on an Indulgence”
(in Studio Space: Christy Johnson)
Vertigo Magazine, 3 (Summer 2007): 28-9.

This installation explores the authorial nature of the First Communion rituals - rote performances in the Church move seamlessly to mock performances in the studio. The Set draws on the artifice of the recorded climatic moment (fixed image). This video work is a continuous re-enactment of five photographic portraits drawn from the Feast archive, and points to the absent, unseen event that is re-done (staged) for the photographer. The representational conventions that are to be adhered to (as with wedding photography) are exposed simply through a reflexive approach where the children hold their performances in the anticipation of the release.

Gender as performance is explored in terms of how boys and girls are expected to behave. Being good and acting as you are told breaks down in each of the five sequences with each child monitoring the other. The sound of a cough, sneeze, whisper or movement of the body reverberates in the studio, breaking and punctuating the monotonous real-time action.

To view an excerpt of the video work, please see www.christyjohnson.co.uk/feast_project.html


Interview (PDF 40KB) with Curator Ciara Ennis (March 2007)
UCR California Museum of Photography

The Set (2007)

  • Project Space
  • 3 screen video with continuous sound
  • (projection/two 32” monitors) & prayer cushions
  • 32 minute, synchronized loop (5 – 5 minute sequences)