South African artist Christine Dixie offers an unusual take on the story of Abraham and Isaac, which she sees as more of a bonding experience than a near-filicide. In the six etchings that make up “The Binding,” a sleeping boy is reborn after dreaming of his own sacrifice. (If you look closely, you can see the outline of a toy gun etched into his blanket, above.) So why is this series in the “heaven” section? Curator Simon Njami notes that not everyone has the same understanding of heaven, purgatory and hell. “These are shifting notions,” he says.
Aida Muluneh is an Ethiopian photographer who graduated from Howard University in 2001. The seven photographs that comprise “The 99 Series,” represent each of the seven deadly sins, which are also featured prominently in Dante’s “Purgatorio.” For Catholics, purgatory is a place where people are purged of their sins before going to heaven, but people also use the word to mean a state of expectantly waiting for something to happen. In this photograph, an ominous third red hand adds a feeling of nervous anticipation.