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Bogers, Peter - VM - Aniko Ouweneel

Peter Bogers: Roadmovie

An impression of this audiovisual installation (presented on the festival of Clermont in 2016) is to view here.

Silent Symbols of Faith

by Anikó Ouweneel

There are several aspects to driving in a car: the evident noise and upbeat fuss, progress and the need for attention, and at the same time the relaxation and the idea of being on the road and on an adventure. Media artist Peter Bogers drove around in the Auvergne region of France for weeks and made video recordings from his car. The installation consists of three different series of these recordings on three large screens. At the moment they are projected in the vault of the Geert Grootehuis in Deventer (see above), as part of the contemplative art route Art Stations of the Cross, to be visited during Lent until Easter.

This location together with this work of art forms Station Five – Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross – of a modern Stations of the Cross. The Geert Groote House is a museum devoted to Geert Groote, a fourteenth-century thinker who founded the Modern Devotion. This movement promoted personal faith and a simple and devout lifestyle, while opposing the abuse and religious practices of the fourteenth century. Repentance and commitment to the poor belonged together in this movement of renewal, which also emphasized that we should help others to carry their cross. The cellar in the Geert Groote House is arranged as a place of reflection.

Roadmovie pictures two opposing human needs that are both necessary in life: activity and progress on one side and standing still and reflection on the other. The car buzzes through the rolling landscape, up and down the road through villages and seasons. We are used to the routine of sitting in a machine looking at fast-changing scenery. It is pleasant but also restless and somewhat disorienting. This is moreover intensified when you watch the three moving scenes with the accompanying electronic noises. Then they all come to a halt for a whole minute.

The car switches off, electronic noises make place for the silence of nature: the sound of the wind in the trees, of humming insects and singing birds. We halt in front of religious statues: crucifixes, crosses, sculptures of Mary, made of wood, stone or metal. They stand at important beginning- and endpoints of roads and at crossroads.  

This results in an immediate reversal in the state of mind of the viewer. The calm noises and the static focus on the statues are peaceful. By bringing us to these images the artist also brings us to the passion with which they were made and the prayers they motivated. This works like a historical sensation. You taste something of the centuries these sculptures have seen. Perhaps you also resonate with the hearts and emotions of the people who passed by. You may feel something of the devotion that helped them in their journeys. You may understand something of the existential power these images represent.

Standing still before these silent and weather-beaten symbols of the Christian faith, they provide a moment of reflection amidst the noise of our existence, a moment of connection to the Invisible. Roadmovie finds a personal way to express the spirituality that originates in the ancient tradition of Christianity. The symbols are still meaningful in 2020, in which we are chased by large quantities of blatant images and news every minute of the day. What do these images mean to our secular society? What do they mean to us?

Then the car starts again and the journey continues. We are back in our comfort zone: the whizzing life of the twenty-first century. But when you keep watching the installation, there are many more resting places to come. Silent witnesses.  

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Peter Bogers: Roadmovie2016, audiovisual installation on three screens. On view in Geert Groote Huis, Lamme van Dieseplein 4, Deventer, the Netherlands.

Peter Bogers (1956) studied at the sculpture department of St. Joost Academy, Breda, the Netherlands. Starting his career as a performance artist, he later devoted himself to video art, video installation and sculpture. He has had solo exhibitions both in the Netherlands (at the Dutch Media Art Institute and the Central Museum Utrecht, among other places) and internationally (including solo shows in Bremen, Marseille, Osnabrück, Pittsburgh and Stuttgart). In Bogers' work sound and image are equivalent elements which always determine form and content in a dynamic interplay. www.peterbogers.com

Anikó Ouweneel is a cultural historian and art curator. As a cultural heritage expert she focuses on placing modern art in ancient buildings. In 2019 she curated Art Stations of the Cross Amsterdam together with Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker, this year she works on a similar project together with artist Arent Weevers in Deventer.

ArtWay Visual Meditation 15 March 2020