The Jerusalem Syndrome
The exhibition brings together a rich archive of interviews conducted by the artist Katarzyna Kozyra during her visits to Jerusalem, with extraordinary individuals who believe themselves to be Messiahs.
The “Jerusalem Syndrome” is an acute delusional disorder that affects tourists and pilgrims visiting Jerusalem. Those afflicted with the syndrome tend to identify with Biblical characters from the Old and New Testament, believing that they arrived at the Holy Land out of a vocation or mission of a religious or political nature.
The syndrome was the starting point for Katarzyna Kozyra’s decade-long art project “Looking for Jesus” presented in this exhibition. The artist’s fascination with the phenomenon has motivated her to conduct several research trips to Jerusalem, in order to find those who believe themselves to be Messiahs.
The result is a rich archive of interviews with extraordinary individuals from different origins and walks of life, self-declared prophets and apostles seeking to escape the established, institutionalized framework of faith and practice their own theologies. It is also a portrait of the city which serves as the background for diverse religious rituals, and a scene for people of various creeds, denominations and colours. The exhibition, which includes a library of videos and a full-length documentary film, is not merely about religion, but rather how belief changes our perspective of reality, what are the ways and means of carrying out one's faith, and its place and role in today's world.
Oscillating between an investigative exploration and philosophical contemplation, the work is also a travel journal, reflecting the artist’s personal journey, as the sense of curiosity that initiated her artistic expedition gradually gives way to a strong attachment to the people and narratives she encounters.
A leading figure of contemporary art in Poland, Kozyra is internationally renowned for her taboo-breaking self-portraits and artistic actions that deal with the body, gender politics, and the boundaries between art and life. Here she witnesses an ongoing performance in which she is not the protagonist, but merely an audience – stepping into the role of the observer to further raise questions regarding the notions of “pretending”, “performing”, “being”, and most importantly, “believing”.
Curator: Andrzej Wajs
Artist: Katarzyna Kozyra