Torno Subito, by Sylvie van den broeck

Torno subito: by Sylvie van den broeck

31/07/2014MECHELEN - Torno Subito consists of a wooden cross on a white marble base. We immediately recognize the figure of  Christ nailed to the cross. But when we take a closer look, we see that what we first thought to be Christ, is actually the absensce of Christ: the signs of age on the wood form the iconical contour, but the person that might have once been hanging there for what looks may have been an eternity, is long gone. On the marble base we see the impression of two rusty nails left behind. The third nail holds up the sign ‘Torno Subito’, Italian for ‘Be Right Back’.

In the last 1900 years or so, we have had numerous miraculous appearences of Christ, the Virgin Mary and their son Jesus: from beautiful paintings on silk veils to holy patches on mouldy bread. All of these ‘acheiropoieta’ are said to have come into existance miraculously, that is without human help. The Vatican’s position on acheiropoieta is that one is free to believe  or not to believe in their authenticity until scientists - who will severely be hindered doing their research by the Church - prove it to be fake, at which point the Church has no choice but to change it’s official position on that particular artefact. Meanwhile Popes, like other Christians, are equally free to decide for themselves whether or not a relic is authentic and whether to outspeak these beliefs.  History shows that our former Popes have been eager to blindly –but loudly!- accept every appearence as a proof of God and all they believe He stands for.

Like my other sculpture ‘The Risen Christ’, Torno Subito embodies my hope for believers to realize that the object of their adoration is arbitrary; and that all images, especially religious iconography, is subject to interpretation.

What does this mean to atheists/agnostics/secular thinkers?  Is the crucifix real?  Fake?  Does it matter? Hopefully, my work inspires us to ask questions, instead of pointing fingers or believing anything blindly.

After all, the biggest danger of faith is when people believe what they want to believe, defending their beliefs against any and all evidence. The biggest culprit to that danger is the ego trap: rejecting/criticizing others, for being unlike you.

For centuries, the “defense” of blind faith has driven nations to war, violence, discrimination, slavery. We’ve become the society of automatons that we are today; and for just as long, it has been justified with lies. If you know better, act like it.

Sylvie Van den broeck