The premiere of Pastiche Mass, with five new videos and sound, works by Mark Dean corresponding to the choral parts of a mass setting, is to be held on 21 March in the Banqueting Hall at Chelsea College of Arts.
Dean has replaced the choral parts of the traditional mass setting with video and sound, incorporating a mixture of original and appropriated film and music, making this a project exploring the potential of video and sound within a traditional Eucharist. The works are being screened in the context of a reflective Arts Chaplaincy service in which people will be invited to receive communion or remain seated, as they prefer. This Eucharist will be held in the Banqueting Hall at Chelsea College of Arts, where Dean is licensed to minister the sacraments as chaplain.
Dean has explained that ‘the series is based on the musical form of a Mass, which is of course in itself based on the liturgical form of the Mass (Eucharist, or Holy Communion)’:
‘The starting point was hearing Aretha Franklin’s recording of ‘Save Me’, which uses the same riff as Van Morrison’s ‘Gloria’. I made a video work combining elements of these two songs with Nina Simone’s and Patti Smith’s respective versions of them. I then proceeded to make works based on the other sections of the Mass – Kyrie, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Angus Dei.’
In so doing Dean wanted ‘to remain faithful to the form of the Mass because the work was not simply about me and my experience, and neither did I want it to become simply about anyone else, in terms of their taste or opinion regarding the content.’ As such, the ‘pre-existing form was a discipline that avoided both of those outcomes.’ A part of the pleasure of these works was in managing ‘to make a ‘religious’ work, in my own idiom as an artist, that did not require a prior interest in either myself (as an artist) or in religion per se.’
Dean began working with appropriated film and music in the early 90s, taking fragments of cultural material as objects trouvés, and reprocessing them to generate new material. In recent years he has been exploring the reinterpretation of spiritual practices utilising these methods.
In 2017 Stations of the Cross brought together 14 video works reinterpreting the medieval tradition of spiritual pilgrimage through contemplation of the path Jesus walked on the day of his crucifixion. The videos were projected onto the circular Henry Moore altar at St Stephen Walbrook throughout the night on Easter eve as part of a vigil event that culminated in a performance of A Prelude to Being Here by Lizzi Kew Ross & Co, and an optional dawn Eucharist.
This was followed by the installation of Here Comes the Sony, a twelve-screen video and sound work, under the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral during Eastertide. This work reinterprets the tradition of the Stations of the Resurrection, which emerged to encourage meditation on the resurrection appearances of Jesus recorded in the New Testament. Being Here, devised by Lizzi Kew Ross & Co, was then performed on the stage formed by the circular placement of television monitors under the dome. Stations of the Cross and Stations of the Resurrection functioned in a similar way to mystery plays, providing a contemporary reinterpretation of the story of Easter and making the audience an integral part of each event.
Pastiche Mass is co-hosted by Arts Chaplaincy Projects and Art+Christianity. Arts Chaplaincy Projects is a partnership between University of the Arts London and the Diocese of London, connecting arts practitioners with a range of spiritual (faith/cultural) communities, and creating mentoring, work experience and exhibition opportunities for art students. Art+Christianity seeks to foster and explore the dialogue between art, Christianity and other religious faiths. Their involvement is part of the Visual Communion series demonstrating how the visual arts have enhanced and extended Eucharistic faith and practice in diverse contexts, illuminating connections between the arts and the glory of God afresh.