Liane Lang’s new series of photographs refer to the stories of female catholic saints and martyrs. Rich chromatic hues, attire and insignia reference their aspects in the history of religious sculpture and painting. Hinting at narratives and patronage, the images oscillate between the macabre and humorous, beautiful and disturbing, not unlike their medieval forbears. The images were taken in buildings designed by Gothic Victorian architect Augustus Pugin.
Lang uses her life-like dolls made in the studio, to create the scenes, locating the images closer to religious statuary. Pugin’s architecture and interiors are used both as a stage and protagonist in the photographs, his aesthetic sometimes presaging modernist forms in their orientation to medieval simplicity. Pugin claimed to have converted to Catholicism for reasons of aesthetic preference.
Lang’s interest in the history and use of sculpture here references the special powers ascribed to religious objects, occupying a delicate position between representation and embodiment. The relationship to the body makes the stories of martyr saints a rich source of feminist material. St Margareth escapes from the belly of the dragon, thereby killing it, to become the patron of pregnant mothers, Lucy, having her eyes gourged out becomes the patron saint of light and Barbara, locked in a tower by her father, the protector of architects. Female saints draw together the impossible ideals of chastity and devotion, of virginity and motherhood, of purity and endless resilience. Lang invites the viewer to revisit these narratives and appreciate them from a fresh perspective as a rich source toward understanding the power and poetry of the irrational and the symbolic.
To see more of Liane Lang’s work, click here.