Museums & Exhibitions Projects Sacrality Visual Art

Article: Art Stations as Pilgrimage

Last year, I conducted research at the Amsterdam edition of the international art project Art Stations of the Cross. The research aimed to explore how this art route can be understood in terms of pilgrimage.

The first article resulting from this research project has been published by the online, open-access International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage.

The abstract of the article: The route of the iconic Stations of the Cross is not only connected to physical locations of the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, but is also manifest in Catholic churches, processions, and passion plays, as well as heritage sites and shrines around the world. A twenty-first-century relocation of this pilgrimage is the international project Art Stations of the Cross. With the aim to offer artistic reflections on social injustice, each station is represented by an artwork especially located in a heritage site. Presented as a journey of contemplation, the 2019 edition took place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

In this article, participant observation, questionnaires, and Art Stations documentation material are brought into conversation with pilgrimage theory. Three elements in particular are discussed: pilgrimage experience, its relation to mass-tourism, and materialisation of the pilgrimage narrative. Taking place in the heart of Amsterdam, an area overtaken by mass-tourism, the paper analyses how Art Stations established a double liminal context that simultaneously challenged and reinforced the route’s contemplative character. In addition, through the interplay of materiality and narrative, the Stations of the Cross tradition offered a prism on contemporary forms of suffering, and vice versa. This study contributes to the understanding of the multifaceted nature of contemporary pilgrimage taking shape in ongoing negotiations between visual art, religious heritage, and ritual.

You can download the article on the journal website.

* Hansa Versteeg, the painting “Madonna del Mare Nostrum” (2017) located in the Mary Chapel of the St. Nicholas Basilica in Amsterdam – Art Station #1. Photo by Hansa Versteeg.
* Anjet van Linge, the sculpture “Compassion” (2018) located in the Everyman’s Chapel in Amsterdam – Art Station #12. Photo by Martin Waalboer.

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