Unknown (after Raphael)
Madonna della Sedia
One of my works is a 37-piece portrait series called The Miracles. Each image is based on a Renaissance Holy Family portrait of disputed authenticity, or a copy – paintings that have been questioned for their ‘realness’ in a way that parallels how queer families are questioned. All the children portrayed in that work are miraculous: they’ve all been ‘immaculately conceived’.
I began The Miracles at a time when Pope Benedict was insulting queer and other non-traditional family structures repeatedly. So, it started off as a riposte to the Pope, but it ended up being a kind of religious work, because the people in the portraits ended up so beautiful, so dignified, so sweet – so holy.
This particular copy of a Raphael is important to me because I used a print-out of it to guide staging the work’s central portrait. The whole task was to make everyone look like lamps. That very unidirectional light is partly why Renaissance paintings seem so sacred in our visual imagination, as well as the beautiful new pigments people were inventing then in oils – all that glorious richness. This is a very good fake, ’cos boy there are some crummy ones.