Last Year's Artist: Contemporary Art, the Christian Conversion and Cancel Culture
This research investigates and tracks, through the study of a series of contemporary artworks, the Christian conversion experience across time, asking how it has remade, reframed and resituated the artist and artistic practice? It addresses how the creative process can serve as a way to understand and advocate for the profound changes in the artist’s self-perception as well as their social and professional identity while connecting and contributing to ideas that are controversial, provocative or taboo.
In an analysis of artworks produced over a decade, I revisit the motivations, intentions and critical reception of my practice. Utilising a practice-based and autoethnographic research approach, I then developed a new work, Last Year’s Artist, giving voice to the transformation in identity due to the conversion in the context of modern-day politics and culture. Utilising varied artistic methodologies such as appropriation, détournement and intervention strategies, the work functioned as a way to come out as a Christian, building a bridge between the old and the new identity. To bypass the institution of the gallery, I published directly onto YouTube which instigated further mass media dissemination and a process of social resolution that, I argue, led to the effective rejection of my work from the officially sanctioned spaces of the art world. As a result, the contentious place of contemporary Christian artists and their art in the art world is considered, and a manifesto offered for the proposal of an alternative platform for diverse Christian voices in a culture of cancellation.
Broadly, this research offers an artistic strategy and model for employing self-reflexive artistic practices in personal, social and professional development while proffering a reinterpretation of cultural perspectives by providing insight into the contemporary Western Christian conversion experience and the resulting personal, social, cultural, political and professional tensions.