Johanna Householder and b.h. Yael, 2005
Video length 7:45 min
Aramaic and Chinese, with English subtitles
Verbatim recreates the opening scene of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, with shot-for-shot faithfulness. Our strategy is to open up the question about accuracy versus interpretation, a tactic that Gibson used to ensure that the Christian audiences, for whom it was made, would approach The Passion with proper, uncritical reverence.
When Gibson released the film in time for the Easter screenings of 2004, it had already received an enormous amount of pre-publicity around Gibson’s vaunted goal of going for verisimilitude, which included the cast speaking in Aramaic and Latin, but didn’t exclude the studio set for the garden of Gesthemene, flooded with smoke and blue light, or the previously unreported presence of the Devil (herself) on the Via Dolorosa. But then Pope John Paul II agreed: “It is as it was,” he was reported as saying in the Wall Street Journal. This version is as it is.
Verbatim was installed as a video projection at the Fleishman Gallery.