The first atheistic theology in the art of Marc Vinciguerra

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Marc Vinciguerra, currently participating in the 58th Art Exhibition of Venice with a monumental statue, told us about the genesis of his Triptych of The Religion of Atheism

The new mystical race: here’s the title of the philosophical poem with which the artist Marc Vinciguerra, a Frenchman living in the States, presented his The Triptych of the Religion of Atheism at the 58th Art Exhibition in Venice. The work became part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sicily (MACS) and, during the vernissage Of Heaven and Earth which inaugurated its acquisition, the director Giuseppina Napoli and the Senior Curator Adriano Pricoco said: «What makes these figures a metaphor of the contemporary? First of all, their tension. They are suspended like in the throes of spasms, have a desire for moral emancipation and claim the will to stand up almost to conquer the right to exist as human beings. In other words, they represent the affirmation of the power of the intellect through an inner and conscious maturation». Marc Vinciguerra, currently participating in the 58th Art Exhibition of Venice with a monumental statue, told us about the genesis of his work. «This triptych was conceived in a deconsecrated monastery – he explained – and it is surprising that it will now be kept by a former abbey. It is a work in constant motion: first, it was at the Cini Foundation, now it is participating in the Art Exhibition of Venice and, although it is going to be part of the permanent collection of MACS, in November it will also be in the United States, where the greatest theologians of the American Academy of Religion will make a theological reading of it». This is possible thanks to the fact that, behind the beauty of such a work of art, you can perceive the torments of an era that has lost all certainty and that gropes in search of a meaning. « We are the ones who have lost temporally / and won spiritually / we are the race of the mystics / the race of the new mystics / the race of the theologians of the death of god / the ones who have opened the portal of sacred nihilism / the new saints of atheism / who bath in the mysteries of nihilism».

THE FIRST ATHEISTIC RELIGION. Four bodies stand out in front of visitors, serene and serious at the same time. Their unnatural position would trouble anyone. «The four bodies I sculpted – explained Vinciguerra – represent the contemporary man and his relationship with religion. The impossible positions these bodies assume, signify precisely that religion is unnatural. Unlike eating or working, religion is unnatural because it’s a trial to try to understand where God is and what man is, which would take a whole life to comprehend. It’s unnatural because it speaks about another world». Marc is a philosopher who transforms his reflection into art and has a precise conception of our world. «I think we live in a desecrated world, where the sacred is banned. Nevertheless, I think that history is changing and that we’re now seeing a new conception of the sacred coming back. Our role as artists is try to understand what this modern form of the sacred is». In short, the Triptych represents a new spirituality, emancipated from religion as it has been traditionally understood, but which has recovered the same tension towards the divine. «What I do as an artist is trying to make people understand that the sacred exist beyond religion, that you can have a relationship with the sacred that is not religious, and I am the first in line believing in a sacred without God. To go deeper in the question, there is a theologian from the Middle Age called Meister Eckart who said that men must empty themselves from God (vacare Deo). So, when you do that and live like God has never existed, you can actually be in front of nothingness – and nothingness reveals God».

Marc Vinciguerra

THE ECSTASY OF THE ABSENCE OF MEANING. In September, the MACS’s collection will be enriched by another work by Vinciguerra: The Ecstasy of the Absence of Meaning. «Its meaning is connected to the idea that, if you can’t find a meaning, if you don’t have a dogma or a religion to believe in, you would feel like you’re in front of nothingness, while absence of meaning is not actually a bad thing. There’s a great French writer, called Georges Bataille, who said: “when Nietzsche said the God is dead, he meant that there is no God, but that there is the absence of God”. And our generation has been saying they can actually see this absence of God». We have to face this absence every day, as we are prey to the most brazen nihilism and to the perception of being surrounded by nothingness. And yet this is where the artist makes the greatest revolution. «We can connect with God through His absence. So, my philosophy as an artist consists in believing that today we must understand God because we are in front of this nothingness due to nihilism. In other words, people have been saying that nihilism is the end of God, but not for me. For me, it is the beginning of the sacred». The last verse of The new mystical race clearly summarizes this philosophy: «So us today / who are temporally destroyed / and spiritually victorious / we disclose, declare and sign / the first atheist theology».

Translated by Eva Luna Mascolino

The ecstasy of the absence of meaning
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