Lecture (11/13) - In my lecture Sacred Spit I will discuss my installation Church I, paintings from my 2018 exhibition Oh God and some of my earlier work that deals with Christian art in particular and the religious feeling in general. Through this I hope to explore the societal and psychological underpinnings that have driven both religion and art. Though unreligious myself, I am spellbound by the spaces and paraphernalia that induce religious feelings. I covet the light, the air and objects that demand a meditation on horror and beauty, on human love, cosmic loneliness, and other existential problems. A few years ago, I decided to build myself a church because I longed for a space that would woo and overwhelm, would induce rapture, but that would be humanist and secular. Was it possible to create a space that would house images and objects about mankind and the natural world without the pit falls of the archive, the mausoleum, the church or museum? Could a churchish space be free of religion, be simultaneously private and public, deeply personal and universal? Could it be at all?
Helen Verhoeven (Leiden, 1974) is a Dutch/American painter and sculptor based in Berlin. Verhoeven grew up in the Netherlands and moved to the US in 1986. She received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute (1995) and her MFA from the New York Academy of Art (2001). In 20052006 she attended the Rijksakademie
in Amsterdam and since 2009 she has lived and worked in Berlin. She received the Royal Award for Modern Painting in 2008, the Wolve-campprijs in 2010 and in 2018 the ABN-AMRO Art Prize for which she will make an exhibition at the Amsterdam Hermitage in March of 2019. Her work has been exhibited internationally in institutions such as Saatchi Gallery, Kestnergesellschaft, the Bonnefantenmuseum, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Gemeentemuseum, the Essl Museum, Dordrecht Museum, Centraal Utrecht Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art –North Miami and the FLAG Art Foundation in New York.
Poster by Dayna Casey
Installation by Natalia Nikoniuk
Sacred Spirit by Helen Verhoeven
The exploration of ‘religious feeling’
Helen Verhoeven writes “A few years ago, I decided to build myself a church because I longed for a space that would woo and overwhelm, would induce rapture, but that would be humanist and secular.” Following that search for an ‘atmosphere’, the ambience of spirituality made me think of medieval religious songs. Heard in the church or in the radio they would always evoke in me a sense of uplifting of the soul. Something powerful managed to survive in those sounds over the centuries that still are able to overcome multiple spaces and crowds. I’ve decided then to fill the central hall with the composition of Hildegard of Bingen who lived at the turn of 11th century in Germany. Also known as Saint Hildegard or Sibyl of the Rhine, she was a Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, polymath, Christian mystic and above all, a visionary. Sixty-nine musical compositions, each including a poetic text survived till this day which makes her repertoire one of the largest among medieval composers. Hopefully the unusual re-definition of the entrance hall will allow the listeners of this week’s lecture to tune into a religious yet non-religious mood and will resonate with Verhoeven’s unique oeuvre.