The Christmas Tree

view demo

silent video
duration: 1½ min loop

Stations of the Cross, St Stephen Walbrook, London, 2017
Stations 2020, Arts Chaplaincy Projects, 2020

Laura Moffatt, ‘Stations of the Cross and Resurrection’, Art & Christianity, No 90, Summer 2017
Muriel Zagha, ‘From Psycho to Transcendence’, Elephant, 2017
Stations of the Cross | Stations of the Resurrection, Stations 2017, catalogue, ISBN 978-1-5272-0874-2s 

from the series Stations of the Cross

© acknowledgements:
Dragracing 101 – The Tree and Staging (2010)

Commentary by Lucy Newman Cleeve for Stations 2020

The Twelth Station: Jesus dies on the cross

Jesus’ death is perhaps the hardest point in the narrative to depict visually. Again, Dean resists figuration and offers up a silent video loop of footage from the start of a drag race. Modern drag races are started electronically by a system known as a ‘Christmas tree’, consisting of a column of seven lights for each lane, as well as a set of light beams across the track itself. Dean has overlaid and offset the same clip using a difference filter, so that where the two images are the same, the image appears dark; only the variation between the two layers is illuminated revealing a changing light-sequence of the Christmas tree and the speeding cars. The Christmas tree introduces a deliberate pun for the Cross of Christ, placing it at the centre of the action, and the moments of darkness created by the difference filter allude to the ‘darkness that came over the whole land’ when Jesus died.

Whereas in most of the preceding video Stations, Dean has used footage shot through a moving camera that remains focused on a still central figure, in this work he inverts the construct, making use of footage from a locked camera shot of a subject moving at speed. Is Dean suggesting that Jesus’ death inverts the world-order as we know it; that the ‘still point’ which, until recently was acted upon by the ‘turning-world’, now undergoes a change in state and starts to exert its own influence upon that same world?