Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Object Lesson: Saint Veronica

Saint Veronica is the Saint of Photographers' and so obviously she is a great inspiration for a project.  Saint Veronica is famous for the Turin Shroud, this is the cloth that was offered to Jesus upon his crucifixion to wipe his face. The imprint on of his face transferred to the cloth.  It is believed the Vatican has the shroud and it is one of their most treasured possessions.

'Legend states that as Christ was walking to Calvary, his face dripping with sweat and blood, Saint Veronica, a bystander, was moved with compassion. She approached Jesus and offered Him a cloth, likely her veil, which He accepted and used to wipe His face.

The image of his face was subsequently imprinted on the cloth.

There are no legends from the period which speak of Veronica either before or after her act of compassion. We do not know when she was born or when she died. She is literally lost to history. However, the cloth may still exist today, kept safe at St. Peter's in Rome.' (Catholic Saints Online: 2020)

So Saint Veronica is a bit of mystery but there were copies made of the shroud and it is unclear whether the Vatican has the original or a copy.  This is interesting the problem with photography in now is the reproduction which is prolific as soon as an image is placed on the internet making it essentially lose its value as a unique image.

Jean Baudrillard understood the importance of the real and copy he stated that:  “It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody. It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real” ("The Precession of Simulacra" 2). Baudrillard is not merely suggesting that postmodern culture is artificial, because the concept of artificiality still requires some sense of reality against which to recognize the artifice. His point, rather, is that we have lost all ability to make sense of the distinction between nature and artifice.' (Purdue University: 2002) Interesting as all things are connected Zurbrugg who I was speaking of in my last post was an expert on Baudrillard and edited a book Jean Baudrillard: Art and Artifact (which proudly sits ion my bookshelf - sorry a little aside there! More of that perhaps later.

The point here is from Saint Veronica many ideas have formed and how I could use these in a project need to be explored here, so first thoughts: 

Consider making photographs and outputting these on cloth - they then have the uniqueness of being a material object - the theme would perhaps be on acts of kindness

Consider the idea of reproduction and how this affects photography - either deliberately create prolific reproduction or create something that cannot be copied through the materiality of the image. 

Make something 'real' and something 'copied' and go with Baudrillard's theory that no difference can be seen between nature and artifice. 

Create an article on photography discussing Saint Veronica and the beginning of photography

So here are my first thoughts ... I shall one of these in more depth in my next post.


Catholic Saints Online (2020) Saint Veronica [online] Available from: (Accessed 01/07/20)

Purdue University (2002)  Module on Baudrillard: Simulation II [online] Available from: (Accessed 01/07/20)

Zurbrugg N. (1997) Jean Baudrillard: Art and Artefact, Sage Publications, London

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