Tag Archives: religion

A Drought in Mexico Uncovers a 400-Year-Old Colonial Church in the Middle of a Reservoir 

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Usually when droughts occur and reservoir water levels recede, it’s not a good thing. But a certain drought in Southern Mexico is attracting a lot of enthusiasm. Water levels in the Nezahualcoyotl reservoir have dropped by 82 ft (25 meters), revealing the remains of a mid-16th century colonial church. Known as the Temple of Santiago, the structure was erected by Dominican friars but then abandoned in the 1770s because of plagues.

The 48-ft tall church became a relic of memory in 1966 when the construction of a dam submerged it under water. Since then it’s only emerged twice: once in 2002 and again, now. As it did in 2002, the church has become a popular destination for tourists and local fisherman have been taking spectators out on boats to get a close-up view of the rare occurrence.

“The people celebrated,” recalls a local fisherman, of the last time the church emerged out of the water. “They came to eat, to hang out, to do business. I sold them fried fish.” If the drought continues, water levels could get low enough for people to walk inside the church.

Photos by David von Blohn, used with permission.

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Vertical Panoramic Photographs of New York Churches by Richard Silver 

Church of St. Vincent Ferrer

Richard Silver (previously) has a unique way of looking at architecture, building composite photographs from several images that seamlessly reveal a structure’s interior. His new series captures the insides of New York churches, and are perfectly timed for the Pope’s impending arrival on U.S. soil. These images are composed of 6-10 shots, forming a vertical panorama so cohesive that it might give you vertigo.

Although Silver has been to hundreds of churches during his career and many years of travel, it’s only recently that he figured out how to capture the expansive inner beauty of their architecture. “Finding the perfect location in the center aisle then shooting vertically from the pew to the back of the church gives the perspective that only architecture of this style can portray,” says Silver.

Church of St. Stephen / Church of St. Paul the Apostle

Silver was born and raised in New York and has visited 75 countries in his life, including 13 last year alone. His previous careers involved computer science, real estate, and a stint on Wall Street, but he embraced photography full-time in 2011. You can see more of his vertical church series on his Flickr page here.

Calvary Episcopal Church

Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava / Church of the Village

Church of St. Francis Xavier

Vincent St. de Paul / Most Holy Redeemer Church

St. Monica’s Church

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An Abandoned Indonesian Church Shaped Like a Massive Clucking Chicken 

Towering above the trees in a densely forested area of Indonesia lies a giant chicken. The gigantic structure has the body, tail, and head of the bird, even holding open its beak in what appears to be mid-squawk. Although the very old bird is quickly decaying, Gereja Ayam (as the locals call it) attracts hundreds of photographers and travelers to its location in Magelang, Central Java each year who are looking to explore the bird’s bizarre interior.

The building was originally built as a prayer house by 67-year-old Daniel Alamsjah after he received a divine message from God. Although he intended the building to resemble a dove, the locals care more that it looks like a chicken, nicknaming it “Chicken Church.” In addition to a prayer house, Alamsjah also used the building as a rehabilitation center, treating disabled children, drug addicts, and others. Alamsjah was forced to shut the center’s doors fifteen years ago after steep construction costs.

Currently five of the eight pillars holding up the building are crumbling while graffiti covers the inside walls. No longer a place for therapy, the building still serves as a place for worship and travel and according to locals—a private spot for many young couples to hide away from parents or prying eyes. (via Hyperallergic and Daily Mail)


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Intersections: An Ornately Carved Wood Cube Projects Shadows onto Gallery Walls 

Intersections, 2013. 6.5′ Cube, projected Shadows: 35′ x 32′.

Intersections, 2013. 6.5′ Cube, projected Shadows: 35′ x 32′.

Created by mixed media artist Anila Quayyum Agha, this elaborately carved cube with an embedded light source projects a dazzling pattern of shadows onto the surrounding gallery walls. Titled Intersections, the installation is made from large panels of laser-cut wood meant to emulate the geometrical patters found in Islamic sacred spaces. Agha shares:

The Intersections project takes the seminal experience of exclusion as a woman from a space of community and creativity such as a Mosque and translates the complex expressions of both wonder and exclusion that have been my experience while growing up in Pakistan. The wooden frieze emulates a pattern from the Alhambra, which was poised at the intersection of history, culture and art and was a place where Islamic and Western discourses, met and co-existed in harmony and served as a testament to the symbiosis of difference. I have given substance to this mutualism with the installation project exploring the binaries of public and private, light and shadow, and static and dynamic. This installation project relies on the purity and inner symmetry of geometric design, the interpretation of the cast shadows and the viewer’s presence with in a public space.

Intersections is currently a finalist in the 3rd Annual See.Me: Year in Review Competition, and you can learn more about it here. (via Twisted Sifter, Hi-Fructose)

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Meditating Machinery: Mechanical Buddhas and Other Religious Icons by Wang Zi Won 









South Korean artist Wang Zi Won constructs intricate mechanical figures of Buddha and bodhisattva that appear to be lost in meditation or enlightenment. The electrically-powered figures are fused with numerous mechanical components which at times resemble halos or lotus flowers and simultaneously move the humanoid figures through repetitive motions (see videos above). The artist says his intention is to examine a future where humans and technology merge, something he views in a particularly positive light. Via Shin Seung-ho of Dukwon Gallery:

The artist predicts that in the future humans will evolve and adapt themselves to enhanced science and technology just as men and animals in the past evolved to adapt themselves to their natural circumstances. He sees this future as our destiny, not as a negative, gloomy dystopia. His work is thus based on neither utopia not dystopia. Wang represents the relations between man, technology and science through the bodies of cyborgs.

The artist considers it important to escape from human bondage in order to achieve harmony between men and machines. He thinks this harmony can be achieved through the process of religious practices and spiritual enlightenment. In Buddhism, the Bodhisattva of Compassion helps people attain enlightenment, Arhat is a spiritual practitioner of asceticism, and Buddha is a being who reaches the highest level of enlightenment. Through them, the artist intends to follow the path of enlightenment, breaking away from anxiety, agony, and pain. The artist has no intention to emphasize religious connotations through these Buddhist icons but to reflect his own or our own existence between utopia and dystopia.

While it may be difficult to grapple with the artists intentions I find the figures and their motions to be really quite beautiful and indeed meditative, somewhat reminiscent of the robots used in Chris Cunningham’s amazing All is Full of Love video for Bjork. If you have some patience (the site loads quite slowly) there are many more examples of Wang’s work and several more videos over on his blog and you can learn more at Art Nova and Hanmi Gallery.

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The Holi Festival of Colors 

Another year, another collection of glorious videos featuring the Hindu Holi Festival of Colors at locations around the world, and as the quality of equipment improves it just gets better and better. This latest addition was shot and directed by Jonathan Bregel and Khalid Mohtaseb from New York-based Variable in India this last March. I highly recommend watching it in HD, as their beautiful camera work seems to capture every single particle of color as its hurled through the air.

Another widely-shared video was this clip from filmmaker Devin Graham that captures the Holi Festival in front of the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah. You can read more about it over on the Huffington Post.

Lastly I can’t help but include my all-time favorite Holi clip from last year by Brian Thompson (previously), also shot in Spanish Fork, Utah. The short is set to the track Optimist by cellist Zoe Keating who has climbed to the very top of my most-played artist list this last year. A stunning watch, every time.

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Al Farrow: New Reliquaries. Religious sites built from ammunition and firearms. 

San Francisco artist Al Farrow uses ammunition and parts from firearms to build miniature churches, synagogues, and mosques. This is heavy stuff, literally and figuratively. Meighan over at My Love for You just stopped by Catherine Clark Gallery where he’s showing some of his latest work, and captured some awesome shots. The show runs through May 28. (images via my love for you and catherine clark gallery)

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