Pawel Althamer works with sculpture and video art. His art-making process involves communities, often incorporating live casting to draw in disenfranchised members of the neighbourhood to transform public perception.
In early January 2017, Pawel and his partner, Julia Petelska, traveled to the Philippines to participate in a residency centered on the annual procession of the Black Nazarene in the Quiapo district of Manila. This procession is one of the largest peaceful gatherings of humanity anywhere in the world, and lasted 22 hours with 1.4 million devotees on January 9th, 2017. The barefoot devotees follow a venerated 17th Century sculpture of Jesus Christ that was transferred from Mexico to the Philippines in 1606. Devotees believe that touching the surface of the image of the Black Nazarene will bring about a miracle, and the procession has grown in popularity as millions come together in the hope that their prayers will be heard.
Quiapo has for centuries been one of the most diverse districts of Manila, where the Catholic, Muslim, and Chinese community co-exist in close proximity. In previous bodies of work in Venice, New York, Warsaw, and Berlin, Pawel was able to connect diverse communities of people through his art-making process, often incorporating live casting to draw in disenfranchised members of the neighborhood and transform how the public perceives them.
The team cast about 52 faces, hands, and feet that were actively part of the miracle seeking found on the streets of Quiapo on January 9th, and these relics were then transferred to the workshops of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan.
Influenced by Polish constructivism, Pawel distilled the tangles of bodies found during the procession into minimalist and linear sculptures, created from found wood and scrap metal left over from historical houses collected at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.
These works were presented in the exhibition Nazareno: Quaipo Constellations at Bellas Artes Outpost and then transferred to Casa Quaipo at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.
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