Lilith Frakes

Washington, USA

Christ: (¿)the Redeemer(?) by Lilith Frakes
12.5”x26”; magazines, postcards, art books; 2022

Lilith Frakes draws upon the diversity of her experiences living in both conservative and liberal epicenters of the U.S. to explore how political rhetoric is weaponized, particularly in relation to the themes of decolonization, environmental justice, inequality, and psychoanalysis. During the past couple years of the pandemic, she has had the opportunity to examine how the virus itself became weaponized through religious rhetoric, as seen in the free Christian magazines and postcards spread through the mail. A common thread throughout this religious propaganda which Frakes received was the message that God alone is the solution to Covid. The underlying implication, however, is the condemnation of those who did not survive Covid, who died due to their lack of “sufficient belief.” The persistent denial of the true devastation of the pandemic on the part of these religious organizations juxtaposed with the devastating reality of the lives lost to the virus is what inspired her collage Christ: (¿)the Redeemer(?).

Frakes created a triptych with her work, reminiscent of medieval religious panels often found in cathedrals or chapels. Each panel seems starkly separate from each other at first glance, in physical division as well as the ideological divisions of science versus religion. Upon closer examination, these lines become increasingly blurred: “priests wear the protective gear a surgeon might, and sanitation workers scrub down crucifixes with disinfectant…Politicians who call the pandemic a hoax are the first to get vaccinated.” The overarching figure of a healthcare worker evokes the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil with the text from one postcard underneath reading, “the solution to our problems will only come from our Creator Jehovah.” These “words of love and salvation…hide the toxic underbelly that denies covid as a political failure, tr[ying] to claim it as a personal religious one.” Frakes is not only critiquing the reaction of the hyper-religious population to the pandemic, but in blurring the divisions between the scientific and religious ideologies, she is also holding the scientific community accountable for using a similar shaming method to encourage certain responses to the pandemic. As she writes, “Our salvation can’t come through deifying Christ or medicine, but a much more difficult undertaking. Whether your predilection is science or religion, our shared goal is to stop the transmission of the virus, and we need love for each other and respect for science to accomplish it.”