Sonia Haberstich & Adrian Gorea
A piece of wood or cardboard hangs at the end of a stick. Words or images cover the surface. Protestors march on, picket sign in hand. The protest sign is a peaceful, sometimes angry, always concerned voice. It is often hand-made, creative and personalized. It is carried around, high up in the air, with the intention of being seen and of denouncing social injustice, government decisions or corporate abuse. The energy of the crowd is palpable, volatile, powerful. With it comes a hope for change.
The protest sign is a strong symbol which provokes reactions, sometimes repression and violence. Conflicts between protestors and other groups often occur. Confrontations with armed forces are commonplace all over the planet. The outcome usually favours police or military authorities.
The signs themselves are abstract paintings, luscious and colourful. And while their meaning is open, their format evokes a specific function, that of the activist marching towards a social change and wanting to be heard. And if it appears that inequalities all over the world are growing, the entire collection remains in fact quite hopeful.
My artistic vision builds upon my monastic practice as a Byzantine iconographer. This knowledge of painting religious icons for churches and the direct experience of seeing people prostrate before the icons I had made became be my basic practical and theoretical foundation. Specifically, the Byzantine icon activates a transformative space in which viewers are invited to exchange gazes with the depiction of an invisible, holy image that appears to acquire the physical presence of a living person. However, this iconic vision is a challenging viewing experience due to our commercialized visual culture. For this reason, I turned to contemporary art techniques, academic study, and pop culture icons to further explore the feeling of an iconic vision and how viewers connect to images in general.