Thursday, November 04, 2010

Youth, spirituality and the arts with John Safran: morning after update

We were talking in class this week about how to stay culturally connected in ministry and I cited the Blake exhibition. I’ve written before on the value of the Blake prize as a window into contemporary culture.

Anyhow, it’s the opening of the 59th Blake exhibition in Adelaide this evening. A bonus is a session with John Safran, from 7:30 pm onward. Titled Talk your arts off, with a theme of youth spirituality and the arts. John is a comedian who has won four AFI (Australian Film Institute), including for his John Safran vs God.

It should be an interesting evening! And I’ll be sure to blog any highlights (or lowlights!)

The morning after:
1. The place was packed, with queues and a waiting list. Lot of interest in either youth, spirituality, arts, John Safran or the combo.
2. Audience is mainly young adult. Not youth, but young. A lot of young adult interest in either youth, spirituality, arts, John Safran or the combo. Would have loved to have known why people came?
3. Panel were mixed in what they contributed. Standouts for me were Rod Pattenden – human and wise – and Humma Mustafa – warm and passionate.
4. The tension between free expression and social responsibility was a recurring theme. Art and religion live at times in uneasy dialogue with tolerance.
5. The loss of context in a global world will require a greater degree of maturity and discernment.
6. Australians feel they are more and more spiritual. The loss of denominations is seen as an opportunity for a genuine spiritual search for meaning. (For more on this, see here)
7. Australians feel they have a distinct take on spirituality. This includes relation to the land. (For more on this, see here). They also like people who are secure enough in their identity that they can laugh at themselves. (For an example, see here).

Coming away, if I was serious about mission today amongst spiritually seeking young people, I’d start by ripping up my Sunday service liturgies and instead creating spaces for experience and for storytelling.

Posted by steve at 05:35 PM

Saturday, August 28, 2010

art and faith Australian style: the window that is the Blake prize

This is a fascinating resource: the Blake Prize, exploring the religious and spiritual in art.

The Blake Prize is one of the more prestigious art prizes in Australia. Since 1951 the Blake Society has been awarding a prize for works of art that explore the subject of religious awareness and spirituality.

Here are all the art entries for 2009, and here are the art finalists. Then the catalogue of winners is here, stretching back to 1978. There were over a 1,000 entries in 2009! That’s a lot.

The 2009 winner was artist Angelica Mesiti for a silent video work entitled [Rapture (silent anthem)].

(silent video! edited – 40 seconds of a 10 minute original)

Filmed from a concealed position beneath the stage at a rock concert, it caught the judges eye for its beauty, emotional intensity and technical virtuosity. “An enigmatic work that operates on many levels, Rapture depicts the joy of being alive while also hinting at the darker aspects of religious emotion.”

I find it fascinating because it is art acknowledging the place of pop.culture. First in medium – video winning an art competition (See the Sydney Morning Herald byline: How videos killed the painting stars). Second in theme (crowds at a rock concert) in religion and spirituality. While there is some Christian thinking in this area, it still remains a bit of a challenge to us in our churches and theological colleges!

Anyhow, I will be using this in my Sociology for ministry paper. And perhaps in the future as an introduction to my attempts to sketch a pneumatology for pop.culture. And there is a journal article in this, using the finalists in the competition over the year, to explore the development, or not, of religious and spiritual in Australian culture.

Posted by steve at 01:10 PM