Artist: Agnes Scherer
Exhibition title: The Salty Testament
Venue: 1646, The Hague, The Netherlands
Date: October 10 – November 15, 2020
Photography: Jhoeko / images copyright and courtesy of the artist and 1646, The Hague
1646 is delighted that Agnes Scherer presents the first part of her solo-project The Salty Testament in October!
The narrative installation Melancholy of the Apostles mobilizes 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.
Due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the complex staging of the full length performance – which involves numerous performers – has been postponed. Thus, the exhibition evokes The Salty Testament from the viewpoint of the left-behind disciples, looking back on it as something that has happened in the past and simultaneously awaiting it as something yet to truly happen in the future, exploring an apostolic mindset in which hindsight and expectation, relics and omens, become indistinguishable.
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.