Medium Religion (Excerpts)

In conjunction with the Fourth International Max and Iris Stern Symposium, ART+RELIGION, taking place at Place des Arts’ Cinquième salle from April 15 to 17, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is offering a video program drawn from the exhibition Medium Religion, which was presented by the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe in 2008-2009. The curators of that exhibition, Boris Groys and Peter Weibel, articulated an innovative proposition that upends the usual understanding of the fact of religion within contemporary societies. Whereas current debate tends to polarize the historical forces of a “return to religion” on the one hand and the secularization of the world and its “disenchantment” on the other, Medium Religion interpreted the paradigm of contemporary media as involving a form of tautological reproduction whose origin lies in religion and confirms its resilience. Under the communications regimen of global capitalism, particularly through the Internet, religion has passed from the forum of public argumentation to the private sphere of sovereign opinion. Moreover, the digital reproduction of images acts, to an even greater extent than mechanical reproduction, as a structural equivalent of the repetition through which religious ritual expresses itself in its aspiration to immortality. The increasing erosion of opinion itself in favour of vacuous literal repetition determines the figure of fundamentalism, which seals the triumph of the “dead letter” over the spirit. Similarly, the relationship of encoded information to the varied sensory experience of forms in digital culture is accountable for the notion of an original referent whose essence and truth are concealed by the diversity of their manifestations, the apprehension of which is ultimately an act of faith. This video program includes the work of Adel Abdessemed, Oreet Ashery, Christoph Büchel, Omer Fast, Boris Groys, Jenkins/LaHaye, Rabih Mroué, Nira Pereg, Wael Shawky and Jalal Toufic.