Jeffrey Vallance, The Gospel According to Jeffrey, video of the performance at the chapel of Saint-Léger, Geneva, 82’, sound, English, 2012
Jeffrey Vallance (born in 1955, lives and works in Reseda/Los Angeles) is a Californian artist steeped in the counterculture who revisits religious rituals, folklore, and fetishist practices. Alternately an ambassador, an anthropologist, an explorer, a writer, a professor, and an investigator of paranormal phenomena, Vallance is a compulsive collector whose stock-in-trade is informed by personal and collective mythologies. Influenced by his forebear Emil Knudsen (1872–1956), a famous Norwegian medium, he strongly believes in the role of inspiration in his work, often perceived as a conversation with the afterlife. He therefore turns his everyday life into an enchanted world, open to acts of faith, mysteries, and revelations. Raised within the strict Lutheran tradition and versed in a form of contemporary art which borders on heresy, Vallance resolves this apparent contradiction by means of his dyslexic nature which enables him to let contradictory beliefs coexist in harmony. Upon visiting the International Museum of Reformation —during his first stay in Geneva on the invitation of the Centre d’édition contemporaine— the artist was intrigued by the figure of John Calvin, who urged all good Christians to spread the word of God. From five centuries’ distance, he took the message seriously by publishing nothing less than his own Bible – The Vallance Bible. This bold gesture was also marked by a paradox: a spiritual and artistic accomplishment, and a blasphemous, or at least ironic act. Jeffrey Vallance’s exhibition at the Centre d’édition contemporaine, Geneva, is his first solo show in Switzerland. On this occasion, he will present his “personalised” Bible in English, The Vallance Bible (co-edited by Grand Central Press, Santa Ana and the Centre d’édition contemporaine, Geneva, 2011), as well as new drawings and editions, kinds of religious trinkets inspired by religious merchandising. (Eveline Notter, from the press release of the exhibition, Jeffrey Vallance, The Vallance Bible).
For the Videos: new and revisited project and its “Archives” component, we will be presenting the film that was made during Jeffrey Vallance’s performance, The Gospel According to Jeffrey, on March 29th, 2012, for the opening of his solo exhibition, The Vallance Bible, which was held at the CEC from March 30th to May 5th, 2012. The exhibition and performance were organised by the curator, Eveline Notter, Geneva. This event took place in the Chapel of Saint-Léger, a neighbour of the CEC, which was located on the same street at the time. This performance was more like a ceremony, more ecumenical than properly religious. Several experts, academics, curators and religious figures, representatives of Catholicism, Protestantism and Buddhism, such as Jérôme Ducor (former curator of the Department of Asia of the Museum of Ethnography of Geneva, Buddhist bhikkhu, Geneva), Xavier Gravend-Tirole (theologian and researcher, former assistant at the University of Lausanne and at the Institute of Religions, Cultures, Modernity of Lausanne, IRCM), Pastor William McComish (former Dean of St-Pierre Cathedral, Geneva), Gabriel de Montmollin (former Director of Labor and Fides Editions, current Director of the International Reform Museum, Geneva) and Humberto Salvagnin (organist at the Parish of St-Thérèse, Geneva) gathered for a round-table discussion. Following the reading of the chapter, The Gospel According to Jeffrey, by the “humanist celebrant” Julien Abegglen Verazzi, taken from the book co-edited by Grand Central Press, Santa Ana and the CEC, each speaker reacted to Vallance’s very personal gospel and bible. The performance ended with a discussion with the audience, and Martin Luther’s canticle, Ein fest Brug ist unser Gott.
Jeffrey Vallance (1955, Torrance) lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been presented in various solo exhibitions, such as A Voyage to Extremes at the Ampersand cooperative structure, Lisbon (2023); Relics: Blinky and Bloody Blanket at the International Cryptozoology Museum, Portland (2022). He has also taken part in numerous group exhibitions: Lächerlich Deins! at the Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn (2022); Urban Explorer at Knoxville Community Media, Knoxville (2022).
This project is sponsored by the Federal Office of Culture and the Republic and the Canton of Geneva.