Artist-in-Residence Moses Williams' exhibition Parable Bodies is on view through June 1, 2024 in the AIR Space.

Christian Jankowski: Casting Jesus

Jun 5, 2012 – Jul 28, 2012

For nearly two millennia, artists who have wished to depict Jesus Christ have had to make difficult decisions about the appearance of the person to play the role. In Casting Jesus (2011), Christian Jankowski allows the viewer to become a fly on the wall, observing as a distinguished panel of representatives from the Vatican—including Monseñor José Manuel del Rio Carrasco, Vatican Priest; Sandro Barbagallo, Art Critic at the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano newspaper; and Massimo Giraldi, journalist and Secretary of the Commission for Film Classification of the Italian Bishop Conference—engage in the process of casting actors in the role of Jesus Christ.

Filmed by Jankowski in the Complesso Monumentale Santo Spirito in Saxia, Rome, and watched via live video stream by a separate audience of 300, the jury gradually narrows the field down to one as they observe the actors completing a variety of tasks including breaking bread, performing a miracle and reciting scripture, as well as dramatic recitations of aphorisms attributed to Jesus.

By contrasting the acknowledged earnestness and religious faith of the jurors with a selection process that borrows heavily from pop culture mainstays such as American Idol, Casting Jesus also thoughtfully explores the difficulties and absurdities in human efforts to encompass the divine. At the same time, however, the dialogue between the Vatican jurors and the actors lays bare the hidden processes of thousands of years of art history that have resulted in varied depictions of Jesus Christ as Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement and actor Jim Cavaziel’s portrayal in The Passion of the Christ (2004).

Special Events

Friday, June 22, 6-7 PM
A conversation with artist Christian Jankowski at UMOCA.  Guests are invited to a dialogue between the artist and senior curator Aaron Moulton about Jankowski’s new film Casting Jesus and his artistic approach in dealing with subjects. The presentation will include a screening of two short works by Jankowski, providing an opportunity to explore the artist’s larger documentary practice.

Thursday, July 19, 7 PM
Public panel discussion of the issues that are presented in the local community by portrayals of Jesus Christ. Anticipated panelists include: Rita Wright, Chief Curator, LDS Church History Museum; Ben McPherson, Artist; Sheila Muller, Professor Emerita Art History; and others.

About the Artist

Christian Jankowski (born 1968 in GöttingenGermany) is a contemporary multimedia artist who largely works with videoinstallation and photography. His practice analyzes realms of criteria and rhetoric within art institutions, news media, popular culture and spectatorship. Through humor and wit he makes his viewer and the subject productively question their relationships to one another through plays on iconography, value and information.