Max Kandhola’s series The Last Seven Words of Christ (1997) refers to the frieze The Seven Words (1898), by American photographer Fred Holland Day. It shows how traditional representations can be interpreted today and above all, it testifies that there is no one face of Christ, but there are many faces of Christ that address complex social, political and cultural issues. The Last Seven Words of Christ explores ideas of race, that informs and questions the ways in which subjectivity is constructed by the camera and challenges colonial and Eurocentric image production values.
More than a century later Max Kandhola’s revisited Day’s images in his own series, The Seven Last Words of Christ, utilizing the same intense close up and suggestively posed head to evoke the final hours of Christ on the cross. But these are contemporary, post-colonial images, the traditional pious features of the white European saviour replaced by a young black man, with a neatly trimmed fashionable goatee and hair braided into a crown of thorns; and where Day echoes the pious gaze that is found in many crucifixion paintings, with Christ’s open eyes looking towards heaven for salvation, the eyes of Kandhola’s Christ are closed, his enigmatic expression one of internal reverie. The plastic realism of these striking photographs evokes the humanness of the ‘historical Jesus.
Revd. Dr Richard Davey
Max Kandhola : The Last Seven Words of Christ
26th February – 09th April 2020
St Marks Church In The Bowery New York
131 East 10th Street @ 2nd Avenue New York, NY 10003