Warning – images contain nudity.
Saint Sebastian (d.288ad) was a Milanese who joined the army to assist martyrs and rose to become a captain of the Praetorian Guards under Diocletian – whilst staying in the closet as a Christian.
He converted a number of people to Christianity, including the son of the local prefect (who became St Tiburtius) and a mute who gained her voice after her conversion. He was later exposed as a Christian and taken to a field and ‘shot until he as full of arrows as an urchin’
Irene of Rome went to recover his body for burial and instead found him to be alive – she took him home and nursed him to health. Sebastian later took himself to a staircase and harangued Emporer Diocletions
Following this he was taken away and beaten with cudgels and his body thrown into the sewer. His body was collected by Lucina who had it conveyed to the catacombs.
Post-canonisation his image is said to be a defence against the plague, and is a patron of Soldiers, athletes and holy death
Sebastian has been portrayed in many ways – often an idealised, athletic youth – and I wanted to represent this many faces in this Sans Sebastians project.
This was produced to be part of the third ‘Cock Au Soleil (nsfw)’ zine project, which itself was presented at New York Art Book Fair 2015 at MOMA PS1. A huge thanks to the models and scribblers who contributed to the images produced and to Arthur Dumping for commissioning it.
A limited number of copies of San(t)s Sebastians are available. Email me for more information.
Illustration credits: Claudio Parentela, Ronald Kibble, Morticia, Paul Cowie, Rob Robinson, Dean Ashton, Bari Goddard, Richard Lacey-Evans, Dario Fucci, Hugo Qaherabear. Johann Sans Sebastian photo by Carl Kierman.