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Preface and Acknowledgments
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xi At the present moment, perhaps more than ever, images pervade social life. We perceive but also have the capacity to produce and see more and more images. We are confronted with such questions as: how do we believe in images, how do they acquire their importance as public objects, and how is their status produced? These are related to further questions around the power of images—not only their iconic or symbolic power, but also the power mechanisms around images, related to their display and presentation. Many artists demonstrate a distinct interest in revisiting the role of religion and the legacy of religious art as part of their reflection on these questions. This interest indicates their desire to situate their practice with regard to the past and to place it in dialogue with a very different economy of the image. By reappropriating and reworking religious images, artists not only re-examine the complex relationship between religion and art, but also their respective regimes of visibility. This book is about a particular fold that is occurring in the space of contemporary art, one which opens up a space to think about religion through images. After I began this research project, many exhibitions that dealt with the relationship between religion and art were organized, demonstrating a multiplicity of approaches, and debates were held and lecture series presented, which I followed and included in my research. I would like to thank the Amsterdam School for Culture and History at the University of Amsterdam for providing a supportive context for my research, and in particular Bram Kempers, without whose encouragement, unconditional support, patience in reading versions of my chapters, and precise comments this book would not have been possible. I would also like to thank the program “The Future of the Religious Past” of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) for funding my research. I extend my gratitude as well to numerous friends and colleagues whose feedback, encouragement, and faith in the project helped me a lot: Vladimir Stissi, Sylvia Mieszkowski, Maria Jose de Abreu, Thomas Lange, Rachel Esner, Dirk Bruinsma, Eva Fotiadi, Florian Göttke, Rebecca Sakoun, preface and acknowledgments xii Preface and Acknowledgments Vesna Madzoski, Boyan Manchev, Tao Sambolec, Keren Levy, and Harry Thie. My exchanges with Jean-Luc Nancy, Laurens ten Kate, Aukje van Rooden, and Ignaas Devisch in the process of working on the volume Re-treating Religion: Deconstructing Christianity with Jean-Luc Nancy provided inspiration and opportunity to reflect on ideas and work them out in detail. I would like to thank Barbara Baert, Ráfael Sanchez, Marco Pasi, Jeroen Boomgaard, Birgit Meyer, and Pim den Boer for their questions and comments, and in particular David Morgan and Erica Doss for their detailed and precise reading of my manuscript. Especially I would like to thank Hent de Vries for his support and feedback, which were always inspiring exchanges. I am indebted to my students at the Dutch Art Institute , Arnhem, and at the Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. Both schools provided a welcoming, inspiring, and intellectually stimulating context in which to teach, where I could discuss and test ideas, and they proved to be places where much valuable and innovative research is carried out. My most sincere thanks go to the late Helen Tartar, the editorial director of Fordham University Press. She was exceptional in her commitment to authors, her professionalism, knowledge, and friendly and precise voice. Her generosity and support gave me confidence in the development of my writing at moments when I needed it most. I dedicate this book to her. Is every work of art a fake acheiropoieton? —MARIE-JOZÉ MONDZAIN ...