Jesus, Christie’s, 2018
26.75 x 19 x 3”
Christie’s sale catalogue, medical tubes, needles, and blood of an HIV+ undetectable long-term survivor and activist; plexiglass and UV resin
On November 15, 2017, a painting attributed to Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci, depicting Salvator Mundi—Jesus Christ as “Savior of the World”—sold for $450,300,000 at Christie’s New York, making it the most expensive artwork in history. For New York City-based artist Jordan Eagles, the sale of Salvator Mundi constitutes a point of departure for asking how we, as a society, value objects over human life.
Eagles’s latest work Jesus, Christie’s features an original copy of the Christie’s Salvator Mundi sale catalogue, laser-cut to accommodate twelve medical tubes that were used for collecting the blood of an HIV+ undetectable long-term survivor and activist. Catalogue, tubes, needles and residual blood are encased in high-polished resin, mirroring the dimensions of the sold painting to forge a modern-day reliquary.
In creating Jesus, Christie's, Eagles has considered Jesus as history’s greatest blood donor, following the Christian theological stance that he shed his blood for the deliverance of human kind. The work forces us to question whether Jesus would have wanted $450 million to be spent on a painting of his likeness, or instead dedicated to scientific and medical advancement that could help save lives and alleviate illness.
Jesus, Christie's premiered at Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art on November 15, 2018—the anniversary of the Christie’s sale—through the month of December, including World AIDS Day (Dec. 1), ending on February 10, 2019.
Text excerpt by Michael Chagnon, Ph.D.