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.