Alexander Terebenin

St. Sebastian 24 Hours a Day

Installation, 2019

Wooden board, LED panel

One of the priority fields in the art of Alexander Terebenin is his work with ready media. A board for knife-throwing in the shape of a person was found in the abandoned and crumbling building of a military academy. The artist identifies the object with the martyr image of Saint Sebastian who lived in Rome, served as a captain of the guards and secretly professed Christianity, for which he was executed. “Emperor Diocletian ordered Sebastian to be tied to a tree in the center of a field, and for soldiers to shoot him until arrows covered his body, and it began to resemble a porcupine…” wrote the Dominican monk Jacobus da Varagine in the 13th century.

In time, the image of Saint Sebastian became notably younger and more attractive: while on the 6th century mosaic Sebastian appears as an aged bearded man, in Renaissance paintings he is a beardless youth. The artists focused on the beauty of Sebastian’s body and not on the number of his wounds. In the 15th century, Antonello da Messina depicts the saint tied to a tree in the middle of a Venetian piazza, while the execution scene by no means disturbs the leisurely calm of the city: a guard sleeps and townspeople take a stroll. A martyrdom against the background of a serene landscape.

The metal pierced the flesh hundreds of times, causing unbearable pain and suffering to the saint tied to a tree. In his poem “Postcard from Lisbon” Joseph Brodsky writes of the “crossbreed of a nude body with a fir tree that produced St. Sebastian”. The history of human civilization is a story of wars and violence which does not stop for a single day. A pine board covered with wounds. A primitive LED display that is mainly used for advertising cheap stores cheerfully announces that the show of St. Sebastian’s tragedy takes place non-stop, 24 hours a day.

Supported by CYLAND Media Art Lab 

Alexander Terebenin (Russia)

Photographer, artist, curator. Born in 1959 in Leningrad, USSR. Graduated from the Architectural College in Leningrad. A professional photographer, Terebenin also creates art objects and installations. He is a participant of over 70 exhibitions in Russia and abroad. His works are held in the collections of the Museum of the History of St. Petersburg (Russia), Kolodzei Art Foundation (New York, USA), as well as in galleries and private collections in Russia, USA, Israel, Germany and Finland. He is the curator of the art projects Conversion (Russia, 2012) and Signal (St. Petersburg, Russia, 2014). He won the Innovation Prize (Russia) for the best curatorial project of 2014 (in collaboration with Peter Belyi). Lives and works in St. Petersburg, Russia.