ReaL Life Church

National Touring Exhibitions

15'x15'x15', wood, video,sound neon



I never believed in god. I never felt he existed. I never sang the hymns in church. I defiantly kept my head aloft during prayers, eyes conspicuously open. But I always felt strangely drawn to these songs, these hymns, but it seemed hypocritical to sing them if you didn't have the faith to believe in the God which gave them their meaning. However, as I get older I find myself becoming increasingly drawn to some of these hymns, hunting down obscure CD's to hear the ones I vaguely knew from some funeral or other sung by some famous Irish tenor. I vaguely know them in the same way that everyone vaguely knew all the songs from Real Life Rocky Mountain, in a subconscious national absorption. Suddenly I realised that Hymns like 'ABIDE WITH ME' or "HOW GREAT THOU ART" could actually make me cry. This was very disturbing - in fact, I almost prayed. These magical songs seemed to have all the answers, so simple, straightforward, so easy, so perfect. They made sense of everything that is nonsensical. Their meanings explained every beautiful moment and every horrific atrocity as being no different, simply the will of god. Everything was fixed, preordained - everything would be OK for ever, eternally, If you put your love and faith and trust in Jesus. But this music was the antithesis of a pragmatic, rational mind. What was happening to me? I had to find out what gave these hymns their power. So I made a sculpture called Dead Church/Real Life.


I built a strange church, painted red, pushed over on its side, as if it was dead. I made a video of me singing these hymns, which I learned easily with a sense of belonging. I am framed, as usual from behind, just an average human being, except for this Real Life tattoo, sitting naked on a wooden floor. The TV set which shows this simple videotape is framed in the fallen spire of the church. The audience can enter this dead church and sit and watch this videotape unfold, while the sound falls down from speakers above like a heavenly choir from 'on high' while the whole scene is illuminated by the soft red glow of a neon which simply reads, REAL LIFE, like the beautiful light filtered through the translucent testament of a stained glass window. They say the devil has all the best tunes - I wanted to find out. What the audience thought of this work really depended how they felt about god, Jesus and the practical realities of modern life.

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