the war on secularism


A beautiful and complex series of prints by Liz Ensz. More images on flickr.

Liz speaks eloquently for the work herself in this artist statement:

Artist Statement:

I make system-based patterns that are narrative, socially critical, and also decorative. The ideas of repetition and variation interest me as a metaphor for the conformity of people to fit within a large group.

In a repeat pattern when the rules of registration are followed, the pattern is upheld. Breaking the system can result in the module being printed upside down or in the wrong color or misplaced entirely. In a system with a prescribed course and outcome, spontaneous variation is undesirable and creates disruption and irregularity within a precisely regulated structure. The system produces a regularity that is calming and disarming because of its visual stability. Likewise, a system of fear for standardizing culture and personal beliefs is being instituted in the name of national security and global stability.

The designs that make up this installation were made during my time in Spain. My interest there lay in La Convivencia of Andalucia, where for almost two centuries during the Muslim rule in Spain, Jews, Muslims, and Christians lived peacefully in mixed communities. La Convivencia was a unique period of tolerance and cultural exchange that seems to have been completely forgotten by these factions today. For example, in Toledo, the church of Santa Maria la Blanca was shared during this time: Muslims would worship in it on Friday, Jews on Saturday, and Christians on Sunday. From this intermixing of Arab and European came many translated philosophical texts and agricultural and technological innovations the helped lead Europe out of the Dark Ages. It also resulted in the “East meets West” hybrid architecture and decorative designs that are now considered distinctively Spanish.

Influenced by these ideas and designs, I have created imagery that contemplates the contemporary relationships between these three religions, which reflects defensive polarization, greed, and a “war” with no end in sight.

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