re-transfigured holy water
holy water in glass/stainless-steel bottle, performance photo in alabaster frame (22 x 27 cm), blue corduroy mat
sampled from St Albans Cathedral (UK), 19 June 2016
Through a mere act of will by an officiant, sanctioned by a ritualistic formula, water, the most basic element of life, is sanctified and becomes 'holy.' Its physical properties remain unaltered, yet its ontological status is forever changed: from simply water to 'holy water.' Not the gross, but the subtle level is involved in the process: rather than transformed, the water is transfigured, acquiring a symbolic meaning that transcends its material substance.
When holy water is sampled as raw material and recontextualised as an object of aesthetic appreciation, a second ontological modification is introduced: the element is re-transfigured, or twice-transfigured, resulting in a layering of symbolic functions that complicates its nature and metaphysical properties.
Performance, as the enacting of formalised gestures and utterances, is central to both transfigurations, suggesting a parallel between religious and aesthetic ritual.