How to Become a Saint, Without Dying While You Try
2009 - 2011
For a long time, I've been fascinated with the lives of Catholic saints, and the extremes they will go to, in order to achieve a mystical experience. The saints understood their bodies as simple flesh, that needs to be mortified to cleanse itself from the desires of the body. In their fanatic search for perfection I found an intriguing relationship between faith, pain and pleasure, three elements I've come to see as recurrent themes throughout my life, while creating this body of work. I began to look back at practices of mortification throughout the history of the Catholic religion, where I found powerful and beautiful tools, used by believers, to inflict pain upon themselves. Through these objects, I became interested in the person behind them, and realized that inside the mind of a saint, is someone who keeps a masochistic relationship with god, who loves, punishes and rewards.
Pain becomes a doorway, feeding the compulsion to relieve the soul from desires of the flesh, to reach the spiritual ecstasy of touching the holy body, to reach god, and have an erotic encounter with him. I read stories of nuns spending nights hanging from their hair to receive spiritual visions; of a village drunk who became a saint by pledging to wear weights under his clothes for the rest of his life in exchange for being healed; a mystic nun who wrote erotic poems to god as she flagellated herself in front of his image; of some who endured long periods of fasting and others who subjected themselves to public humiliation. The more that I know about these people, the more fascinated I become.
Observing the popularity of tortured lives of mystics, I began to draw a connection to the society of drama and spectacle that we are immersed in, where suffering sells, and brings ratings up. I find it interesting that common heroes are still made from those who have suffered in the public eye, bringing me to a sarcastic point of view on our society, myself included, while I use my own story as the subject of my art. How to become a saint without dying while you try consists of series of actions, objects and installations that explore my personal relationship to pain, faith and pleasure, through experiences from my past. This body of work acts as a form of catharsis, and at the same time, a satire on my own desire for perfection.