Michael Landy’s 'Saints Alive' exhibit features kinetic religious sculptures that ask viewers to 'torture' them.

Stories of saints and their trials to prove themselves Christianly have been forgotten by much of the secular world. In his newest exhibit, Saints Alive, showing at the National Gallery in London, artist Michael Landy seeks to reengage the public with the history of biblical saints, by letting them torture the holy men and women all over again.

Landy, who is the current Artist-in-Residence at the gallery, was given space to create new works inspired by the gallery's collection. Since it is home to Western European paintings created up to 1900, Landy had to figure out a way to combine his contemporary steampunk aesthetic with the traditional works on display. He was inspired by painting of saints, but modified them into sculptures, built with cogs and wheels, and junk found throughout the country. Landy added an interactive element which let visitors punish the saints as they had been punished in the stories of the Bible. For instance, a statute of Saint Jerome, who supposedly would beat his chest with a rock for penance, comes with a foot pedal which, when pressed, lets the viewer repeat the torture endlessly.

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