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Light reigns in Jesus is King

For the set of his short film, Kanye West chose James Turrel’s Roden Crater, a unique space for contemplating light

Published: 27 Nov 2019
Jesus is King is Kanye West’s latest album. Based on religious themes, such as salvation and redemption, the album was released on 25th October, accompanied by a short, 35-minute-long concert film of the same name, directed by Nick Knight that, at least for the moment, is not being distributed in Italy. The trailer – and another video uploaded to Kanye West’s official website – suggest that the film is based on a Sunday Service concert concept that features the tracks from the album being performed by Ye, as the rapper likes to call himself, along with a gospel choir. The concert was filmed inside James Turrell’s Roden Crater, a location whose sense of mysticism and ancestral spirituality makes it the ideal setting for West’s continued exploration of Christianity.

The official Jesus is King trailer

James Turrell’s Roden Crater, where Jesus is King was filmed, is a monumental land art project that is designed to minimally disturb the surrounding natural space. Turrell has been working on it since the 1970s and it is now scheduled to officially open to the public in 2024 (thanks partly to a donation of 10 million dollars by Kanye West to support the extraordinary project). Roden Crater is not invasive because it is located inside the crater of an extinct volcano in the Painted Desert, in northern Arizona. James Turrell has always worked on reinforcing the bond between space and light and Roden Crater is considered to be his masterpiece, the sum of all his previous work and a totally unique project in the panorama of contemporary art.

Roden Crater narrated by the Arizona State University, one of the project’s financers

Roden Crater is therefore the ideal place to admire the stars and the planets and how light changes throughout the day.
When you cross the threshold of the Roden Crater, it is like entering another dimension into an other-worldly space where you can enjoy a truly extraordinary sensory experience. The entire construction is based around an itinerary that alternates between long corridors and spacious rooms that open onto the sky to allow visitors to contemplate the celestial sphere in its many forms. Roden Crater is therefore the ideal place to admire the stars and the planets and how light changes throughout the day. The vision of the sky from the viewpoint of an extinct volcano crater in the middle of a desert is truly unique. When walking through the Roden Crater, your senses and psyche are gripped, and the contemplation of light has unexpected effects on your perception of the inside of the structure, the landscape outside and the passing of time. It is a constantly changing experience that borders on mysticism. This makes the crater the perfect place in which to perform Jesus is King, an album where an expression of the sacred ignites every track and fills every note with a warm and powerful light.