Quality is the first norm for art, but its final norm is love and truth, the enriching of human life, the deepening of our vision.


Bergmann, Sigurd: A Liberative Theology of Images

Book info

Sigurd Bergmann: In the Beginning is the Icon: A Liberative Theology of Images, Visual Arts and Culture, Equinox Publishing Ltd – London, 2009.  
In the Beginning is the Icon (translated from the Swedish edition, published by Proprius Forlag in 2003) aims to contribute to raising awareness about the intrinsic value of images and image perception among those who wish to reflect on God and pictorial expressions of different experiences from encounters with divinity in earthly and historical situations. Reflections from iconology, art theory, philosophical aesthetics, art history, and the fairly recent field of anthropology of art intersect with reflections from theology and religious studies.
A central question is how God through human creation and observation of pictures can have a liberating function in images. Within the context of a liberation theological approach to the interpretation of God and an aesthetic that focuses on the love of the poor, the final chapter develops a constructive proposal for a contextual art theology. In the globalised mass production of pictures, the pedagogy of art and iconology have a special significance in contributing to humanisation and the liberation of man. The roles of the hand and the eye for learning make up central and crucial notions within liberation pedagogy. The extended time period that is needed to orientate in the visual sphere is in itself a political counterforce to the violation of natural space and a natural passing of time caused by the acceleration of technological developments.
In light of the impact of both art and religion within a world of geographical and historical relations, and with a critical edge toward Western art reflection and the Euro-centric character of religious interpretation, the chapter about world art is an independent contribution in the book's structure. Even though the research history of ethnography and anthropology also reflects this ethnocentricity shared by art and religious studies, the newly established anthropology of art offers important perspectives for a cross-cultural art theology.
About the Author
Sigurd Bergmann is Professor of Religious Studies at the Department of Archaeology and Religious Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. He is a member of the Royal Norwegian Society of Letters and Sciences and on the editorial boards of the journals Junge Kirche, Blackwell's Compass Religion, Theology, Ecotheology and Norsk Teologisk Tidskrift. He is the author of a number of books, most recently in English, God in Context: A Survey in Contextual Theology (Ashgate, 2003), Creation Set Free: The Spirit as Liberator of Nature (Eerdmans 2005), and Architecture, Aesth/Ethics and Religion (ed.) (IKO-Verlag/Transaction 2005).