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Mdf, wood, paint, tube lights, cardboard, inkjet prints, paper, 2013.
Installation view Sint Augustinus Kerk, Amsterdam.

As part of the art route Lijdensweg West about the 14 Stations of the Cross. This installation represents the 4th station; Jesus meets his aggrieved mother.

During the 40 days of Lent, Kraal opened a window every day, counting the days until Jesus' death. Every self-portrait in the installation refers to Maria.

Shortly before Easter Joost Schouten [organ], Sanne van der Kooij [mezzo soprano] and Doina Kraal [soprano] performed parts of the Stabat Mater by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. The different visual elements refer to the Easter Sundays. The golden marzipan roses on the altar refer to Laetare Sunday, when the pope blesses the golden rose. The two performers covered in purple cloth refer to Passion Sunday, when statues and crosses in churches are covered with purple fabrics. The palm leaves on the organ refer to Palm Sunday, the day when processions of worshipers carrying palms are held.

After the performance - the documentation of which can be viewed at the end of this sequence - the public was offered the golden marzipan roses that lay on the altar.

With this installation Kraal researches the sensual, romantic, yet also chaste and demure image, which exists of the Virgin Mary. In painting as well as in cinema, Maria is often pictured as a lascivious young mother yet also as a suffering, tormented woman.

“At the 4th station, Jesus meets his aggrieved mother and at the 8th station Jesus consoles the weeping women. These are to me the most moving moments in the story of the Stations of the Cross. I can easily place myself in the position of those women. The greatest victim in this story is Maria. This, I believe, is also the reason why every Stabat Mater ever composed is of an excruciating pain and beauty. During Lent, I wanted to identify with Maria by imagining the relationship with her child, by singing, by trying to personify her.”

“The first idea I had to identify with the suffering of Maria and the weeping women, to experience unconditional love for Jesus, was to spend Lent as a nun in a convent. It was also a way to torment myself, since I am not religious. The weeping women undergo and accept the situation just as Maria seems to. They suffer in a very pure form. Even though Jesus Christ is not their own child, they love him unconditionally. The chaste life of a nun is to me also about acceptance, about patience and suffering and of course about that very unconditional love. The nun I could imagine to be though was a nun covered in a layer of icing sugar; living in a beautiful medieval abbey where the nuns would sing, work in the flower garden, bake their own bread. Those kinds of cloisters, those kinds of nuns I know mostly from movies. Maria emits a similar attractiveness. In painting as well as in cinema. Making use of music, photographs, paintings, movie stills and collages, I intend to become Maria.” DK

Photography Gert Jan van Rooij

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