My artistic practice has always been focused on the relationship between religion and power, using video-installations and sculptures. I'm interested in the manifestation of the secular power of religion and in the blurred boundaries between the public performances enacted by political and religious leaders in the media.
    Contemporary media images, spread by political or religious leaders, are conceived to gain popularity and to increase power. How does the media confer power to a leader? And what is the role of the audience in giving power to him?

    I’m interested in the strategies with which institutions, as politics and religion, use the public contemporary media to influence public opinion, that in return legitimate the leader’s power through consensus: the support given to a leader by the applause of a yelling crowd, legitimize the power of the performing person. According to Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, power is given to leaders by acclamation (cheering and applauding masses). He states that public opinion is the modern form of acclamation which is a powerful tool that survive in modern society from early christianity and roman empire.

    Through the footage of the last meeting of Barak Obama and Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2014 and the Pope's speech given to the European parliament on the 25th of november 2014, I investigated the blurred boundaries between the sacred and secularized strategies used in the media. The religious institution shares the same media technique with many other areas of modern secular society, from politics, to entertainment to information. What are the different tasks of the religious and secularized institutions? Are they that different, or do they overlap and almost meld in to one another?

    Selecting public footage of the meeting and accompanied them with the voice of a narrator, my video essay A Glorious society reveal the manipulative and staged nature of the public images, so that the viewer’s perception can be disturbed and be challenged. In my work I also question the value of leader’s speeches in relation to their voice and image. What gives power to the leader’s speech, his voice, the content of the speech or his image?


Script of the video essay
A Glorious Society



Marc De Kesel

Bruno Latour

Giotto’s apprentice

Barak Obama

Pope Francis

Stella Bruzzi


Hannah Arendt

Adriana Cavarero

Martin Schulz

Carl Schmitt

Giorgio Agamben

Boris Groys


  1. The dream

    Through the mandates of the Counter Reformation, the church established how the theological themes should be represented to spread its message and reinforce its institutional power. The two versions of Caravaggio’s ‘St. Matthew and the angel’ painted in 1602, perfectly illustrate the influence of this communication strategy. Today religion has replaced paintings with media technologies to promote religious images. Can the perception of these images be challenged to generate a better understanding of the contained message? 
A scene from Pasolini’s Decameron, in which a painter dreams about a divine representation, shows some technical imperfections that disturb the viewer’s perception. This example illustrates the tension between the possibility of believing in an image or being disappointed by it.

      II. The silent voice

    The images spread by religious or political leaders consolidate their authority. Their voices communicate content. What is the value of their voice? What gives power to the leader’s speech, his voice, the speech or his image? What makes a voice political; the uniqueness of its sound or the content of what is said?
Orality, can be understood not only as communication but also as gesture. A performative function of the spoken word which activates written words. A visionary from Medjugorie, who silently talks to the Virgin Lady every month, shows the peculiarity of the communication. Even a silent speech could also be understood as an act of speaking, as a gesture.

      III. A glorious society

     What gives power to the leader’s voice and consequently to the leader’s speech? The support given to a person by the applause of a yelling crowd, generate and legitimize his power. The acclamation of masses is the source of this power. In modern democracy, media is important because it allows control and governs public opinion and in this way distributes glory and therefore power. Leaders use the media to increase their popularity. Their continuous presence on the network make their image credible in viewer’s perception, conferring them with even the ‘divine’ quality of omnipresence. As a consequence, the viewer can accept without resistance their voice and their message. Since people possess the capacity to give power through acclamation, can the masses break this spell and regain their power?


    In my previous work I have been also using public footage from Youtube, not only to explore the institutional strategy to influence public opinion but to explore how people perceive public informations. The video fragments posted by youtube subscribers reflect directly (if they post their own footage) and indirectly (if they post fragments selected from internet) what captured their attention on important topics like immigration and religion.

(see, older work, Documentary/trailer, Video MEDJUGORJE, 2013. - recent work, MARE NOSTRUM, 2014)


(see Recent work)

The popular expression of faith is dependen on its approval by the official institution of the Church. I perceive the analysis of these two opposing tensions as a metaphor of a modern power strategy. The religious sentiment of the people often has represented and still represents a risk to the success and the preservation of the religious institution itself. Very often, however, when the exclusion of the anomalous expression from the doctrine could be counterproductive, the church preferred to change strategy and to include it, adapting or modifying the doctrine itself. This is the case of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary, whose dogmas and veneration have recent origins. The Vatican have approved about 16 Marian apparitions, among which two of the best known are those of Lourdes (France) started in 1858, and those at Fatima (Portugal) started in 1915. The strategy of the inclusion of anomalous phenomena in the doctrine is regulated by a number of documents written by the church. In the specific case of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary, because of the increasing number of apparitions in the last century, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has prepared a document with a description of the rules to proceed in the discernment of presumed apparitions and revelations. Certainly, the human need for a form of religiosity that is sometimes even created by the individual in his private life, challenge and question the official doctrine. That's why I'm driven to investigate in more detail the phenomenon of ‛people’s expression of faith’ and the encounter of this expression with the ecclesiastical institution.


An anthropological approach

The phenomenology of religion is a human need for the sacred and rituals. A need that men always have shown in different times and cultures. Recent contributions of neuroscience consider this need of the homo sapiens as an innate survival strategy of the species. The neocortex of the sapiens has developed a predisposition for animism during the evolution process: the believe that behind every natural phenomenon an animated will is hidden, has guaranteed differential survival for the benefit of the 'alarmed' species and therefore more circumspect. Through the evolutionary 'errors' of the DNA, the development of the neocortex has led us to develop new functions in the brain: consciousness and freedom. In contrast to other primates, the neocortex of sapiens is no longer binding its behavior to natural instincts, but opens it up to new possibilities. The sacred then, as well as illusive answer to the meaning of life, has become a regulatory structure for the freedom of primitive men. Marcel Gauchet wrote that the sacred is the tool that allowed our species to create the structures of social life no longer ensured by the instincts. Religion requires respect for the rules and presupposes an act of surrender to dogmas that can not be penetrate and learned throughout their entirety. Is modern man able to conciliate the religious and secular world?
   I am fascinated to the timeless nature of the rituals within the religion. With relatively encoded behaviors and gestures, the ritual has a repetitive nature and refers to symbols recognized by the community. Because of its ordered and repetitive sequences, the ritual provides a control on the anxiety of social changes. People can control what they perceive as danger in society or in private life, through the performance of the ritual because it keeps them separate for a period of time from the previous situation. The ritual interrupts then the historical time because its repetition regenerates time all over again. The aspiration to 'start over' in every ceremonial reflectes the paradoxical desire to inaugurate an ahistorical existence in a 'sacred' time against the flow of the profane. What are the places in which modern man experiences the a-temporality of his rituals? Is modern man able to interrupt his time through the rituals?




(exhibition catalog)