Of Burkas & Crosses 

Of Burkas and Crosses
An installation depicting the contradiction between believe and behavior by Mikhail David
AUG 1 – 6, Teater Kecil Lobby, TIM

Of Burkas & Crosses

One of the greatest influences in our lives, a force that moderates and regulates our thoughts and behavior on every level, is religion. Every religion contains rules and regulations, codes of ethics and morality, rites and rituals, and philosophical explanations about the Supernatural and Its presence and relevance to its followers lives and environments. There is no religion that does not Forbid something or other, nor that does not urge its followers to Forget and Forsake “unbecoming” or unacceptable beliefs, actions, and behavior.

Likewise, all religions contain contradictions that only those who have extensively studied and are highly versed in their religion can even begin to attempt to reconcile and explain. The average follower is usually confused and often consumed with guilt because he/she feels that he/she is incapable of properly fulfilling his/her religion’s prerequisites.  This opens the door to  those better educated and more eloquent individuals in a religious society to act as guides or teachers. And yet, neither teacher nor student can ever achieve perfection. In religion there is always an elusive goal, one more step before the final destination.

Every religion contains an element of exclusivity; our version of the Truth, our Belief and our Understanding is the only valid Truth, Belief, and Understanding. All other versions and, therefore, all other religions are wrong. Even amongst the followers of the same religion competing factions hold similar beliefs about their own versions of the truth, beliefs and understandings. The issue is further complicated as religions are born,  formed and shaped by the direct Guidance and Advise of the Supernatural. And who can argue with the Supernatural. 

Many people in today’s world can see these and other contradictions and are aware that their sets of values and beliefs will have to be reexamined and adjusted to fit in with today’s realities. That does not mean that we  have to dispose of our religion and understanding. It just means that we will have to become more tolerant of other religions and understandings and correct, wherever possible, the shortcomings of our own religions.  Unfortunately, there is also an opposite force at work in the world today with many people who feel that they have to impose their Religion, Beliefs and Understanding on the rest of us. 

I have chosen to portray some of the contradictions that I have outlined in the paragraphs above through two religious symbols: the Islamic Burka and the Christian Cross. I have purposely chosen these two religions because, in a way, they can both be seen as “global” religions. They both originated in the Middle East and have both spread to all geographic latitudes and longitudes of the world, and therefore, both represent a sort of religious colonialism where converts adopt beliefs and values and practice rites and rituals often alien to their native surroundings.  Other religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, have historically also exerted their influence as they spread but never achieved a global status.

In this exhibition I try to explore the contradiction between Belief and Behavior. Just because one appears to be religious it does not necessarily follow that one is religious. Likewise, just because one dresses properly it doesn’t mean that one behaves properly. People dress their religions in fashions suitable to them and tend to hang on them all their thoughts, emotions, hopes, aspirations, and actions. They often validate through their religion their behavior and actions. But how does one reconcile “Thou shall not kill!” with the Death Penalty? And how about manipulation, corruption, lies and gossip?  However, I do not intend this exhibition to be a cynical statement against religion. I concede that on rare occasions there are those who practice their religion according to their beliefs and who thus achieve some higher and purer level of existence. What you see is what you get!




JakArt secretariat: Jln. Lebak Bulus II / 20 A, Cilandak – Jakarta 12430, INDONESIA
Tel/ fax: + 62-21-75907687, Tel: + 62-21-70830742,
email: proseni@indosat.net.id