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Miriam Sentler

Janus-faced; Jesus where are we going?

Via Appia Park

Janus-faced; Jesus where are we going?

The project ‘Janus-faced’ focuses on the contrast between life and death on the Via Appia Antica, one of the oldest pilgrimage roads in the world. Within the work, the contemporary activities and performativity happening on the road are being researched in relation to the burial traditions and rituals which emerge from the road’s historical, spiritual use.The title of the project refers to two-headed Janus, the Roman god of travel and transition, who simultaneously guards the world of the living and the afterlife, constantly shifting his view from one world to the next. Following architect Christian Norberg-Schulz’s findings, the Via Appia is heavily influenced by the over- and the underworld; the realm of the Gods and the land of the Dead.

By conducting fieldwork on the road itself, the different social groups (tourists, scientists, pilgrims) and their rituals have been mapped in relation to the manner in which they contribute to the current characteristics of the road. This led to the conclusion that, although there is a strong focus on the material relics originating from the spiritual rituals, the essential performativity which is characteristic for the pilgrimage road is broadly dismissed, resulting in dangerous situations for the contemporary individuals walking the road. This finding has been confirmed by inhabitants living in the area, who described the Via Appia Antica as an over-trafficked road which they rather avoid.

The project ‘Janus-faced: Jesus where are you going?’ transforms part of the road into a memory-theatre, turning the road into a decor and the passengers into actors, all under the attentive view of multi-headed Janus. The most lively place on the Via Appia is the busy crossroad next to the Church Domine quo vadis where four two-directions roads meet, of which one is the Via Appia Antica, which is walked by tourists and spiritual groups. This place stands in sheer contrast with the further part of the road, which people mostly visit to silently reflect on the grave tombs and Roman relics. On this busy crossing passengers, bicycles, cars and busses seem to constantly cross each other on the verge of an accident, creating dangerous situations. By mapping the daily movements happening on this road, using virtual and material means, a view of the contemporary activity and performativity on the road is being presented, in relation to ancient spiritual relics resulting from the road’s history.

Miriam Sentler works together with Caterina Antonaci, curator at Galleria Nazionale di Arte Moderna
Miriam Sentler (1994, DE/NL) is an interdisciplinary artist, working mainly with installation, video and artist publications. By using several mediums, she builds narrative installations which aim to connect personal experiences with collective memory. Within her practice, she is fascinated by the traveling of natural and industrial objects and the constant changing and shifting of landscapes and contexts, caused by the colonial gaze, migration, and symbolism.

Meer info zie: miriamsentler.com