Artvehicle 29/Recommended

14th December 2007 — 24th February 2008

The Level 2 Gallery space has been completely transformed into a dark box illuminated by the works of five artists working in video and film. Curated by younger Tate curators and featuring international emerging artists, this exhibition focuses on the way people use belief to order the world. The work that draws you into the space is caraballo-farman's video of Falun Gong practitioners meditating in peaceful protest outside the Chinese Embassy in New York during a snow blizzard. They are wearing so many layers and the weather is so extreme that they can hardly get into their cross-legged positions. Their dedication to the cause and the strength they attain from their beliefs are inspiring. We are also reminded that the freedom to practice your chosen faith is a privilege we take for granted; Falun Gong is banned in China and its practitioners subjected to persecution.

Romanian artist Dan Acostioaei's three-screen projection Crossroad captures people walking down a street and passing a site of religious significance that we never see. As they pass nearly every member of the crowd crosses themselves in a gesture of benediction. It often seems to be a reflex action performed automatically, rather than a fervent declaration of faith. Acostioaei explores the way religion helps a society to cohere and the way people in a community must be seen to belong. Meanwhile, Sanford Biggers stages a ceremonial performance in a Buddhist temple in Japan using bells cast from melted-down hip-hop jewellery found locally.

Valérie Mréjen interviews a group of Israelis on the subject of the moment they lost their Orthodox Jewish faith. One recurring motif is the switching on of a light during Shabbat, the day of rest. When, to their surprise, the perpetrator of this violation is not instantly struck down by angry divine might it prompts a loss of faith. To me this frank and engaging work speaks eloquently of how religions seek to control their adherents through fear and prohibition.

Lida Abdul's film shows a boy in the ruins of the Archive of the looted National Museum of Afghanistan. Such ruined buildings are ubiquitous in Afghanistan, a country which has been ravaged by war and isolated for three decades, and are emblematic of its immense human suffering. The boy spins in a circle on the spot echoing the shape of the building's dome. Like a Sufi whirling dervish, he seems to perform a religious or spiritual rite which speaks of the possibility of regeneration out of devastation.


Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG

Daily, 10am-5.50pm