The Czech-Canadian artist Alena Foustkova, used the story of Jesus’s crucifixion to reflect the struggles many people go through in the world today.
Her exhibit “15 Stations” during Lent in the Ambit of St. Thomas Church in Prague portrayed Christ’s death and resurrection, but with a modern twist.
Alena Foustkova, a lecturer at Anglo-American University, was born and raised in Czechoslovakia and grew up during the communist era, graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (MFA), in 1982. In 1984, she emigrated to Canada with her husband, then after ten years in Canada, she returned to the Czech Republic in 1995.
Foustkova’s “15 Stations” is conceptual art. This is art in which the idea or concept is more important than the finished product.
So, Foustkova filled 15 small wooden frames with everyday materials like sewing thread, or magazine cut outs to create a bridge between the past and the present. For the First Station, when Jesus is condemned to death, she pasted magazine cut outs of different people’s eyes. They were eyes from people of all ages, sizes, and races with the commonality of all the eyes being closed signifying them looking away from Jesus. There was one set of eyes open in the center of the picture and these were the eyes of Jesus.
One of the most intriguing images was Station 3, when Jesus falls for the first time. For this one, Foustkova used a multiplied image of a Syrian father running with his son across the border of Hungary as he was tripped by a Hungarian journalist. This parallels anyone falling down and having to get up and continue powering forward, but especially migrants in more recent times.
In Station 6, when Veronica wipes the sweat of Jesus’ face with a veil, Foustkova showed a single folded paper tissue; sewing thread and sewing spools were used in several other stations to symbolize blood or suffering. In the 8th Station, when Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem, their crying and mourning was shown by a bundle of colored thread.
The most captivating frame was Station 11, when Jesus was nailed to the cross. Foustkova filled the frame with dozens of names of people killed due to terrorist attacks beyond Europe, for example in India, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
By relating scenes from the time of Christ to contemporary issues, Foustkova helped to make the “pictures” more understandable and relatable to the common person without even showing Jesus. Using thought provoking images, she was able to create a parallel between such an old Biblical story and current issues that so many people are struggling with today, which helped to make her exhibition “15 Stations” different than so many others.