Hymn video still 1 slide


Ques­tions of Faith is a pro­gramme com­prised of four mov­ing image works made between 1997 and 2021.

Extended until Saturday 10 June
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am – 5pm daily
Programme starts on the hour from 10am to 4pm, running time approximately 50 minutes
Free admission, all welcome

Mark Wallinger’s work poses big questions about identity, and about the social, cultural and political power structures that guide us. His multi-faceted practice encompasses painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, performance and work for the public realm, as well as a varied and intriguing range of artist’s film and video.

Questions of Faith is a programme comprised of four works made between 1997 and 2021, all of which deal in some way with intersections between faith, vision and language. Although not a religious believer, Wallinger has spoken of how the videos explore the desire for ‘faith, innocence and eternal life’, while his deep engagement with music and literary texts suggests a profound attachment to the transcendent feelings evoked by great music and literature.

Angel and Hymn, both made in 1997, are the first and second parts of a trilogy, Talking in Tongues, in which Wallinger assumes the guise of a character called Blind Faith, a figure identifiable by his sightless dark glasses, white shirt and black tie. Both films employ forms of trickery to undermine their own veracity.

Angel, a video run in reverse, shows the artist walking on the spot at the bottom of the down escalator at Angel Underground Station while reciting the opening lines of the Gospel of John in the King James Bible (Wallinger learned to speak the word sounds in reverse and, although ‘righted’ in playback, they have the effect of speech which is not quite human).

In Hymn, shot on Primrose Hill with a view over central London, Wallinger stands on a box like a Sunday evangelist, holding a blue helium-filled balloon upon which is printed a boy’s smiling face – the artist himself at the age of ten. Wallinger’s voice changes, becoming more child-like as he takes breaths from a mouthpiece connected to a cylinder that contains a mixture of helium and oxygen.

Threshold to the Kingdom (2000), is a slow-motion video of people coming through the automatic double doors of international arrivals at London City Airport. The vibrant music of Gregorio Allegri’s ‘Miserere’, a setting of Psalm 51 that evokes a mixture of longing and hope, provides the sound track, transforming the prosaic airport setting into another realm.

The final work in the selection, Testament (2021), observes visitors as they climb the steps of the artificial Marble Arch Mound, a temporary structure commissioned to attract visitors following the pandemic. In Wallinger’s vision it becomes a surreal holy mountain, a place of pilgrimage. The half-hour film also includes observation of the preachers who habitually gather at Speakers Corner, representatives of all the world religions as well as of many minority faiths, gathering to bear witness and give testament.

Mark Wallinger will give an artist’s talk at CAST on Wednesday 3 May, for more details click here.
Hymn video still 1 slide