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Monumental 'Golgotha' Sculpture Casts the Crucifixion in Coat Hangers

Artist David Mach captures the agony of Christ in an unconventional medium.

by Anna Marks
28 March 2016, 3:20pm

Image courtesy of Chester Cathedral

This Easter, Scottish-born sculptor and RCA graduate David Mach will see his monumental Golgotha sculpture installed within the 14th century walls of Chester Cathedral. Commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Jacobean translation of the King James Bible, Golgotha is a unique visual interpretation of the crucifixion. With its bold visual stylings, it’s a sculpture that evokes a strong personal reactions.

Mach, who’s previously been nominated for the Turner Prize is heavily influenced by consumerism and known for taking mass produced pedestrian objects and moulding them into unorthodox creations. In previous projects he’s used match sticks, old cars, magazines and even teddy bears to explore the relationship between materialism and morality. Following this, Golgotha is formed from hundreds of coat hangers and steel girders. Mach is also known for introducing religious connotations to his work, including Jesus Christ for the Precious Light Exhibition in 2011. Made from hundreds of matchsticks, these were set alight during the performance, creating a visually striking piece.  

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Image courtesy of Valérie Hamill

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Image courtesy of Chester Cathedral

As Mach tells Chester Cathedral, “I work in so many different ways with so many different materials using so many different processes in order to feed the need of my themes - excess, extravagance, individuality, survival. I want blood and guts in my work... jealousy, rape, mayhem, pestilence, famine and flood. Love, peace, hope, sex and lust!”

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Image courtesy of Valérie Hamill

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Image courtesy of Chester Cathedral

Also named "Place of the skulls" (due to its skull-like geography) Golgotha was originally suggested to be the area outside ancient Jerusalem where the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is said to have occurred. But Golgotha is more than just a name; by viewing this installation you’re transported to witness the crucifixion at its most violent. It’s sculpture in gut-wrenching agony. Depicting a very slow and painful execution, Jesus and the thieves beside him appear asphyxiated and semi-naked as Mach manages to capture the sheer agony of the scene. Regardless of its audience’s religious convictions, it forces us to question historical and present day morality in an unconventional format. Golgotha shows us how contemporary sculpture can be used as an inventive tool for revisiting and reliving a significant story in our cultural and religious history.

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Image courtesy of Valérie Hamill

The use of recycled coat hangers and steel girders is, admittedly, unusual for the depiction of Christ's figure, a subject usually crafted in luxurious metals, like marble and gold. The several hundred coat hanger spikes are inserted into each of the sculptures, making for a raw depiction of a profoundly violent act. The spikes give another aura, energy and life, as if the figures are alive and moving, trembling in pain. In doing so, Mach has made the crucifixion even more violent and vivid. He’s turned an ordinary object into an aggressive medium, transforming something relatively harmless into a significantly threatening material. 

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Image courtesy of Valérie Hamill

Golgotha shows us the value of contemporary sculpture in reimagining a significant moment within the Christian story. It allows us to see Christ’s crucifixion in an unconventional light giving a fresh, vibrant outlook with its use of unorthodox materials, capturing us on all levels of emotion and attention.

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Image courtesy of Valérie Hamill

Click here to visit David Mach's website. 

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Tagged:
Religion
Church
Easter
Christianity
Installation
christ
Crucifixion
jesus
sculpture
Cathedral
art installation
religious art
Gothic art