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Agnes Scherer

The Salty Testament

Part 1: Melancholy of the Apostles

14/10/2020

Instead of a regular Background Evening, Honey Kraiwee at 1646 sat down with Agnes Scherer to speak about The Salty Testament –  Part I: Melancholy of the Apostles, Scherer’s solo-exhibition that was on view at 1646.

As the circumstances of the pandemic ruled out the possibility of performing the operetta live in front of an audience, the artist had to try new ways of working. The operetta turned into something different, an experimentation for Scherer to build a narrative installation.

Listen to Agnes Scherer elaborate on her process and how she came up with Christ of the Deep.

 

The Melancholy of the Apostles mobilized sculpture, painting and video to recount and simultaneously prefigure The Salty Testament.

The Salty Testament is a theatrical dance piece that reimagines the narrative of the New Testament under water. This drastic relocation serves to induce a programmatic reenvisioning of the biblical content down to its details. As with the rose of Jericho, the „irrigation“ of the narrative prompts it to unfurl into a liberated, more florid version of itself.

With his charisma and some conjuring tricks, a mysterious triton, the Christ of the Sea, targets a group of pearl divers. He causes them to leave their diving grounds and follow him further and further into unknown depths. The further they follow him, the lower they run on oxygen as they observe the wonders and revelations presented by their fishy master. It becomes increasingly difficult to tell whether they experience is real. Building on the discourse Scherer first addressed with her operetta The Teacher (2019), this piece aims to analyze the psychology of discipleship more specifically within a spiritual dimension.

A central choreography of The Salty Testament and climactic moment of its music – written and performed by Ornella Balhi and Tobias Textor – describes the exorcism of a “madwoman”. This elaborate duet was captured on video and is presented in the back space of the gallery. A questionable act of cure, the exorcism conveys in an exemplary way the ambivalence which characterizes the whole play. This video is complemented by an installation in the front space, made of original props and costume details, which embodies the final scene of the performance. Resembling a crime scene, it serves as a starting point from which the preceding chain of events can be unraveled.

Info

About Agnes Scherer: Agnes Scherer (1985, lives and works in Berlin) develops her own formats of presentation, which allow her to actively ‘show’ instead of ‘exhibit’. Scherer implements hand made artifacts into holistic theatrical frameworks and with her elaborate operettas and narrative installations she unfolds pictorial arrangements in space and time — orchestrating the viewer’s experience and directing their gaze. This way, she produces situations that feel both playful and urgent, raising existential questions and transporting critical discourses. Scherer uses these showing practices to explore how they can lend artists and their works a magical agency. Scherer‘s first operetta Cupid and the Animals was granted the Nigel Greenwood Art Prize in 2015 and within the years 2017/2018 presented at the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, as well as by TRAMPS in London and New York. In 2019, her second elaborate work within this format, The Teacher, was presented by Kinderhook & Caracas in Berlin. The artist‘s narrative installation The Very Hungry at the Berlin project space Horse & Pony, was granted the Berlin Art Prize in 2019. Alongside her artistic practice, Agnes Scherer writes essays within Art History and Cultural Anthropology.

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