Michael Landy’s exhibition at the National Gallery, “Saints Alive”, makes for an interesting mélange – of the paintings of saints achieved by the grand masters and of kinetic art; of the immovable track that the saints found themselves on their road to martyrdom and of the wider machinations of the world that went on behind them.
The exhibition also provides a reinterpretation of the visitors’ interaction with art, otherwise based on static observance. Dali-reminiscing collages dominate the walls, while giant-size half-human, half-machine saint statues need the activation of a pedal to execute the gesture that brought the saints their consecration.
A feeling of becoming part of the torture that some of the saints went through, of empathy towards their physical pain or soul-based trial, is present in the rooms. I didn’t want to turn the giant wooden wheel that St Catherine was associated with lest I reenacted the torture that she went through. Nor was I too keen on putting my foot down on the pedal that pushed Thomas’s finger into Jesus’ torso to make him touch the living Christ and believe in the resurrection.
“Saints Alive” can be visited until 24th November.
*God from the machine