Michel Foucault wrote prolifically on many topics including, art, religion, and politics. He also eloquently articulated how power structures are formed and how they also might assist resistance and emancipation. This book uses the hermeneutical lens of Foucault’s writings on art to examine the performative, material, and political aspects of contemporary theology.
The borderland between philosophy, theology, and art is explored through Foucault’s analyses of artists such as Diego Velázquez, Édouard Manet, René Magritte, Paul Rebeyrolle, and Gerard Fromanger. Here special focus is placed on performativity and materiality—or what the book terms the mystery of things. At successive junctures, the book discovers a postrepresentational critique of transcendence; an enigmatic material sacramentality; playful theopolitical accounts of the transformative force of stupidity and nonsense; and political imagery in motion enabling theological interpretations of contemporary collectives such as Pussy Riot and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. In conversation with contemporary thinkers including Catherine Keller, Louise-Marie Chauvet, John Caputo, Daniel Barber, Mark C. Taylor, Jeffrey W. Robbins, and Mattias Martinson, the book outlines this source of inspiration for contemporary radical theology.
This is a book with a fresh and original take on Foucault, art, and theology. As such, it will have great appeal to scholars and academics in theology, religion and the arts, the philosophy of religion, political philosophy, and aesthetics.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1 The Surface of Appearances: A Mystery of Things 2 Velázquez: The Place of Theology 3 Manet: Material Sacramentality 4 Magritte: The Betrayal of Images 5 Rebeyrolle: Theory as Activism 6 Fromanger: Imagery in Motion Conclusion: Marvels and Actions
Petra Carlsson Redell is an Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Stockholm School of Theology, Sweden. She has published multiple times on religion, philosophy and art in journals such as Studia Theologica and The Oxford Journal of Literature & Theology, and in books including Mysticism as Revolt (2014).
‘Foucault, Art, and Radical Theology gives us not only a compelling interpretation of Foucault, but also a vital conception of a materialist and non-representational theology. Petra Carlsson Redell engages Foucault’s reflections on painting, from Velasquez and Manet to Magritte, Rebeyrolle, and Fromanger, to grasp the complex interaction of bodies and things on a surface of infinite appearances. However, unlike the a/theology of Mark C. Taylor, Carlsson Redell emphasizes the political significance of Foucault’s aesthetics, and how it contributes to a materialist theology that refuses transcendence while still infusing transformative political activism. This is a wonderful book that imagines a new future for theology!’ – Clayton Crockett, University of Central Arkansas. Author of Radical Political Theology
‘In this riotously refreshing theopolitics of material performativity, art, ritual and protest generate an entrancing mystery. With her beautiful writing and her companionable theorizing, Petra Carlsson Redell paints a surface –a brilliantly luminous surface—of theology’s radical and ironic potential for political action.’ – Catherine Keller, George T. Cobb Professor of Constructive Theology, The Theological School, Drew University. Author of Cloud of the Impossible: Negative Theology and Planetary Entanglement
‘In Foucault, Art, and Radical Theology Petra Carlsson Redell deftly articulates Foucault’s renewal of painting’s engagement with surfaces, suggesting that it is time to rethink theology in material terms. "Mysteries" can now be understood as carnal and performative liturgies, not simply as secrets of transcendent realities. Carlsson Redell argues forcefully that contemporary interruptions of conventional religion – like the Russian group Pussy Riot – are not anti-religious but embody new forms of sacramentality.’ – Gary Shapiro, University of Richmond. Autho