“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain”, reads the sixth commandment in the Book of Exodus. Taking the name of God in vain is the topic of Double Bubble (2001), a video work by Maja Bajevic. The artist stages herself in various poses as a self-confident narrator of usually male-connoted excuses for their own acts: “I free people from sins. They give me money. Everything has its price”; “I always preprogramme my arms on fridays. On saturdays I don’t do anything”; “I shot 55 people during prayer, in the name of God”; “I only collaborate. Thats all I do. God is my witness.”
In self-righteous recourse to religious dogmas from Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the interpretations are depicted as self-serving, a loss of ego, and a disdain for humanity. The artistic moment of doubling the spoken text, like an echo, amplifies our perception of the statements as a double standard or hypocrisy. The verbal violation of creeds contains the rotting pustules of nationalisms, fundamentalism, and neo-totalitarianism of a religious bent.
Maja Bajevic comes from Sarajevo; a city where some residents did not survive the outgrowths of religiously founded nationalisms. Lies and hypocrisy, demagogy and violence are what the artist seeks to expose as contradictions and violations of religious feeling. With all forms of re-interpretation of revelations to extremism, questions also emerge on whether the absolutisations themselves are not already contained in the written ‘word’ itself: “Does not the ‘name of the Lord’ and his revealed word stand exclusively for the good, while ‘evil’ is humanity which in pursuing its bad intents deforms and perverts this ‘absolute good’? Or does the name of the Lord, the revealed divine will, not already contain the roots of its dominant application in itself, so that the accusation of abuse can be seen as a distracting ex-post-facto manoeuvre?”
Maja Bajevic, FR 2001, video, 4 min
Courtesy Peter Kilchmann Gallery Zürich, Michel Rein Gallery Paris