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Redemption rips through the surface of time in the cry of a tiny babe. Bruce Cockburn

Dominik Schleicher: Abused, No Further

 ArtWay Visual Meditation October 30, 2022

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Dominik Schleicher: Abused – Until Here and No Further

Counterforce

by Patrik Scherrer

The figure of the Crucified One rises up out of the thin vertical. Except his head and arms, his body is rendered by only a few lines: legs, loin cloth, abdomen and chest. The vertical partition of the legs is mirrored in the chest area, where it forms a cross with the bottom of the chest.

The head is turned to the right, the gaze directed downwards. The elevated man has his arms stretched out to the maximum, as well as his hands, raised vertically on the right, bent horizontally forward on the left. The body as a whole forms a towering cross, while at the same time the cross is inscribed in his chest.    

He is not depicted as the suffering Jesus, even though his wounds are clearly visible. He is also not portrayed as one who passively endures pain, but as the compassionate one, merciful and protector of all those who are tormented like him. He has experienced first-hand the injustice of the abused through ridicule, torture and death. Now he defends himself and all: enough is enough. Stop it! This is unbearable!

Jesus confronts the abusers and powerful as the guardian of the abused and degraded: exalted on the cross he places himself admonishingly between the violent and the oppressed. With his upright right hand he simultaneously blesses the victims and commands the aggressors to stop. With his horizontally held left hand he fends off the malefactors. Jesus keeps them at a distance and does not look at them. He, the friend of humankind, rejects them and does not want to be associated with them.

Abuse has many faces and permeates all areas of society at all times. It is closer to us than we may think, when we are stronger, richer, older, healthier or more clever or influential than others (cf. Luke 1:48-53). Power is quickly abused when self-interests are placed above the common good and especially above the well-being of others. No one is immune to this temptation, not even priests or teachers, fathers or mothers, businessmen, employers or politicians. Jesus is against any kind of oppression or patronizing behaviour. The Christ Hymn in the letter to the Philippians (2:6-8) describes how Jesus renounced his unimaginable might in order to be close to people and restore their human dignity through God’s healing, strengthening and saving power.

Jesus’ counterforce against abuse is his love and care, his being there for the wounded. His treatment of them is characterized by respect and tolerance, by appreciation and trust in their capacities and strengths. In his eyes all are equal and in his justice no distinction is made, except that he grants the disadvantaged help and support.

This cross embodies this attitude of Jesus also beyond his death. Also as ‘God exalted above all’ (Phil. 2:9) he remains an enemy of injustice and thus a stumbling block and a sign of resistance for all the selfish inflictors of pain. Through his enormous example of the right and just treatment of others, Jesus empowers us all.

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Dominik Schleicher: Abused – Until Here and No Further, 2021, bronze, ca. 190 cm high.

Dominik Schleicher (b. 1982) is a German sculptor who lives in Fensterbach in Bavaria, Germany. He became a master carver in 2008. Since then he has made sculptures for churches and public spaces, while he has especially applied himself to making high-quality and unique gravestones as permanent ‘life signs’ of the deceased. In the design and implementation of the stone, only materials from the regional environment of the deceased are used, such as stone, metal, glass and wood. http://bildhauer-schleicher.de/

Patrik Scherrer is the driving force behind the German website Bildimpuls. Every fortnight he sends out a ‘Bildimpuls’ or visual meditation, in which he focuses on contemporary Christian and religious art from Germany, Switzerland and Austria. He studied theology and works with mentally handicapped persons. He wrote the book Gott in Sicht? 33 Impulse zum christlichen Glauben aus der Pinakothek der Moderne, Schnell & Steiner, 2005. On the Bildimpuls website there is a lot of information about artists, books, museums, exhibitions and organizations, see www.bildimpuls.de.   

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