(Religious) Aerobics. A performance by Bouillon Group

(Religious) Aerobics. A performance by Bouillon Group

Aerobics is a modern sport that is a very secular form of public entertainment.

It is deprived of all religious or ritual contexts and driven by contemporary commercialization and the competitiveness of the consumer society. However distant it may be from religious institutions, aerobics still bears the values and cultural spirit of society because sport is a collective form of cultural expression.

The performance (Religious) Aerobics was created in response to the rise of religious fundamentalism in Georgia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The artists incorporated movements of the three most important religions in Georgia, Christianity (Orthodox and Catholic), Islam, and Judaism—such as crossing oneself, kneeling, touching ears with hands—and transformed them into television aerobic instructions which stressed the mundane mechanical process of religious expression in a pseudo-religious society.

The work was presented at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013). Just ten days before this performance, a group of priests beat participants in a LGBT rally on the streets of Tbilisi while the police watched. This demonstrates the increasing self-empowerment of the Orthodox Church. Furthermore, Georgia is a country where often sees believers crossing themselves in the street and where many new Orthodox churches are being built.