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I.N.R.I.: Iesus Nazareus Rex Iuderoum; Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. The story of Jesus has been continually reinvented and reinterpreted, in fact and in fiction, over the course of the last two millennia. Yet the visual iconography has remained largely that of the Renaissance. Now, at the turn of the twenty-first century, writer Serge Bramly and photographer Bettina Rheims have turned to photography -- the most contemporary of art forms -- as well as to the original biblical texts and legends to present the life and death of Jesus in a series of stunning tableaux and an evocative, meaningful text.
The words of the apostles are retold in contemporary and accessible language, at once a rereading, synthesis, transposition, and commentary on the four gospels. In the photographs, characters such as Mary and Joseph, John the Baptist, and Mary Magdalene are placed in sites ranging from the beautiful island of Majorca, Spain, to an abandoned hospital on the outskirts of Paris. Jesus' birth occurs in a rough garage, where he is attended not only by the three kings but by people drawn from the surrounding streets; his miracles and cures address the ailments of all times; the Sermon on the Mount is a dramatic piece of performance art; and his crucifixion is that of every man, and every woman. Bramly and Rheims' re-creation of the ancient story is a true modern icon.
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\Bettina Rheims has exhibited her work at museums and galleries in Paris, New York, Boston, Tokyo, Berlin, Munich, London, and Milan. Among her numerous books are Female Trouble, Modern Lovers, Les Espionnes, and Animal, and her work has been published widely in magazines such as Vogue, Paris Match, and Details. In 1994 she won the Grand Prix de la Photographie de la Ville de Paris.
Serge Bramly is a novelist, ethnologist, screenwriter, art critic, and historian of photography. He has published more than twenty books, including Macumba, a study of Afro-Brazilian religions; La Danse de Loup, a historical novel; and several works of art history. In 1992 he collaborated with Bettina Rheims on the book Chambre Close.
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