Von Hagens Reinvents Crucifix on Channel 4
Controversial anatomist Dr Gunther von Hagens is recreating a Crucifix and will reveal his process and philosophy in a Channel 4 documentary airing over Easter. The film also features interviews with leading art historians and theologians who examine the enduring iconic image of the Crucifix.
The documentary follows von Hagens, who last year revealed that he is suffering from Parkinson's disease, as he undertakes an intensely personal journey to create his crucifix. "What's important to me is that I want to move people's minds and souls," says von Hagens in the documentary. "It's a life's work and I'm at a time in my life when I feel called to see it through. The clock is ticking."
The new piece was made by injecting liquid plastic into bones and blood vessels, from a number of donors' bodies, which then hardens to create casts. The resulting figure, which does not contain any human tissue, was then mounted on a cross cut from a tree felled near von Hagens's home.
The documentary's writer and director, Srik Narayanan, said: "The crucifix is the most recognised symbol in the world. It's an icon - effectively Christianity's logo - which has been reproduced for nearly two thousand years. Gunther von Hagens brings his own unique skills and knowledge of anatomy to bear on the work and he is in a long tradition of artists focusing on the very visceral nature of crucifixion."
The documentary traces the representation and interpretation of the crucifix from illustrations on fourth century tombs, through centuries of church-sanctioned depictions to contemporary portrayals.
Interviewees include: Rev. Prof. Richard Viladesau, theologian and art historian at Fordham University New York, author of two books on the art of the crucifix; Prof. Martin Kemp, Emeritus Professor of History of Art at the University of Oxford, author of From Christ to Coke - How Image Becomes Icon; Canon Prof. George Pattison, Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford; and Bishop John Arnold, Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster.
Crucifixion is written and directed by Narayanan, produced by Liz Collier and Lucinda Duxbury and executive produced by Nick Curwin and Magnus Temple. It is made by The Garden Productions.