Flea Jesus:Beyond the Sacred and Profane 2012

This series examines the nondescript territory between popular culture and spirituality in the context of an outdoor flea market in Harper's Ferry. For 5 years I regularly visited an outdoor flea market documenting any item that represented Christianity. Why I did this I am not 100 % certain of but I do know I held what I now consider an elitist fascination with kitsch objects and a philosophical opposition to mainstream Christianity. I thought the knickknacks were crude, cheap, unsophisticated, unoriginal, mass-produced, and above all sentimental. I was interested in celebrating the irony posited when capitalist materialism  exposes the sacred/religious as a sham.

 

However, over time, my understanding of these mocked objects in a marginalized market changed considerably. The images revealed more than my initial biases allowed me to consider. The kitsch religious objects surrounded by truckloads of  other cultural objects became rather complex albeit often humorous and non-threatening conceptual still lives that when reconsidered in the contemporay socio-political moment reveal complex narratives regarding capitalism, violence, colonialisim, patriarchy, sexism, racism, and much more.

 

The kitsch object, when abstracted in a photograph, allowed me to overcome their material superficiality and overly idealized symbolic shortcomings; in essence they became culturally profound, complex, and difficult to ironically dismiss as objects unworthy of deeper consideration. Possibly, these objects are often gateways to higher thought and one's cultural and material prejudices towards them (prejudices I initially shared) reveal more about the limitations of a conditioned observer than their true worth in the hands of a believer. 

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Paul
Thulin-Jimenez