Fellowship of the Faithless Julie Miller
03 – 15 December 2012
The artist Julie Miller makes pamphlets, small in format and printed on thin paper colourfully framed like the leaflets laid out on the back tables in churches.
‘A love for baking’ describes her thoughts on a bus: ‘I often think when on a bus, what if I just started singing? Would people join in like in the movies?’ In her search to stimulate change she asks: ‘But what if things are different? What if, even just for one day, I did not pretend I was the only passenger on the bus…I could bake for them’.
And like a guide for societal reform, the back of the pamphlet shows a recipe for cupcakes: Baking for the bus.
Julie Miller has written many pamphlets from ’Good Intentions’ to ‘The Perfect Gift’, beautifully designed, each describing a different situation, each offering practical solutions and actions; instructions for happenings, handed out by the artist on the streets of Belfast.
‘Fellowship of the Faithless‘ uses elements of installation and performance, interior design and ritual. Quite like any religious congregation with their attempt to create a different and higher reality? Quite like art one might counter, believing in what?
Born in Northern Ireland, where Christian beliefs are still fundamentally anchored, she investigates how forms of religion shape society, speech, politics and art.
Her work replicates religious forms and rituals and fills it with new content. God is not the centre, but human responsibility, solidarity and mutual help, enacted and communicated through pamphlets, actions and performances. They are displayed in the newly carpeted space of PS², filled with chairs, like a church, like a room ready for small revolutions, a meeting house for neo- dissenters.
Julie Miller writes about her project in PS²:
‘Evangelism, familiar to the people of Belfast is the process of promoting a set of beliefs in attempt to convert others to the same belief. Making something small happen began as a simple exploration of the possibilities that evangelism holds as an artistic methodology.
The work attempts to promote dialogue about evangelism, gift giving and reciprocal obligation. Reciprocal obligation describes the feeling that once a gift has been received one should be given in return. I am interested in how this same obligation functions within Public art in Belfast.
I have used three approaches to explore these themes. The first of these are the tracts, a form of evangelical pamphlet, written and distributed by me on the streets of Belfast. The second is the account given of my experiences during the distribution of the tracts, which takes place on my blog -makingsomethinghappen.wordpress.com. Third is a series of events that deconstruct the traditional protestant church service and investigate how they can be used to address a range of secular needs.
The work is not designed or desired to be spectacular, its strength is in its persistence. I have adopted the passive approach of one particular Christian street evangelist often seen at City Hall, who first sparked my interest in the potential of evangelism as art. This work uses many of the qualities and values that are often attributed to Christianity but reclaims these as an intrinsic part of my secular lived experience.
With this project in PS², I explore what a Fellowship of the Faithless may look like and how it could function, not as a means to exclude those with religious beliefs, but as a fellowship which does not build its foundation on them but rather on art and its possibilities.’