Coronavirus: how artists in the Spanish-speaking world turn to religious imagery to help cope in a crisis
Some artists have used their time in isolation to create work using religious imagery as a way to tell the story of the crisis says Dr Ricki O'Rawe, and Dr Eamon McCarthy from the University of Glasgow.
While millions of people across Europe and beyond have been forced into lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, some artists have used their time in isolation to create work using religious imagery as a way to tell the story of the crisis. On the streets of Madrid, graffiti artist Ernesto Muñiz reimagined the imagery related to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as a means of interpreting the current situation.
The Virgin’s heart becomes a rendering of the virus, the cause of the world’s suffering. The Virgin herself is wearing a gas mask, yet her sorrowful eyes, pose and garments are all instantly recognisable. This image of the Virgin seems to suggest that we should place our trust in science, wear our masks and the suffering will pass.
She is no longer the icon calling us to pray, but she is still asking us to have faith – this time in science.
This recourse to the image of the Virgin in particular should come as no surprise. To Catholics she is the perfect incarnation of suffering, hope and love. Western cultures have long turned to the image of the Virgin Mother for comfort or to express ideas about unconditional love. It’s why Beyoncé invoked her in the photos she released to mark the birth of her children, for instance.
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Article originally appeared in The Conversation.
Dr Eamon McCarthy is a lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the University of Glasgow. His research interests coalesce around questions of gender and sexuality, with a particular focus on Argentine visual culture.