The Artistic Theology Lab aims to create an inspiring work environment where the religious, academic and artistic communities can meet. The Lab is a space to explore the relationship between theology and the arts, with a specific focus on mysticism and female saints. The Lab is interested in the relationship between the mystical experience and the artistic process, exploring the possibility of treating the arts as a locus theologicus. By recognizing the theological value of the arts and by offering artists a rich language of reflection (using religious traditions as source material), the Lab wants to start a dialogical and hermeneutical process shared by theology and the arts that will address the lack of religious art and religious reflection in contemporary society.
Currently, this lab is working on a project called Beloved Bodies, a transcultural,multi-disciplinary adaptation of the holy lives (vitae) of the Mulieres Religiosae, the religious women (nuns, beguines and lay women) who lived in the thirteenth-century Archdiocese of Liège (current day Belgium). These mystical women challenged the minds of artists and theologians alike, in the past but also in the present day; these women have ‘unfinished cultural business’ – in the words of Leo Brandy, their lives have continuing historical relevance. The project aims to bring these traveling stories to the present day by de- and re-historicizing them using the arts and theology.
This academic art project proposes a collaboration between artists from different disciplines and academics (theologians, philosophers, (art) historians and literary scholars) using academic language to communicate ideas, to explore these unknown sources (the vitae), to reflect on the artistic process and, finally, to evaluate the art (an artistic dance video and a network of other related art pieces). These reflections will be posted on this website. The blog posts will offer an insight into the artistic, hermeneutical process leading towards a video. Furthermore, the blog posts will investigate the specific stories and artistic progress of individual artists or collaborations who work on art pieces related to the common theme (of Holy Women), but who do not work on an artistic video.
Sander Vloebergs is finishing his PhD in Theology (KULeuven) and Literature (UAntwerpen). He is a choreographer and visual artist and the founder of the Artistic Theology Lab. He is currently curating the project Beloved Bodies.