Holy Mass, The Hague, 2019

The performative installation was developed in collaboration with musicians and visual artists. It was shown dayly during the graduation festival at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.

The Christian Mass connects dramatic and ritualistic elements using choreography, speech, music and audience participation. In the dramatic meaning everything one sees represents chronologically the life of Jesus. The ritualistic meaning is his true presence in the bread and the wine at the Mass after the consecration. 

I was interested in reworking the Christian Mass with the aim to intensify its numinous effect. My starting point was the research of literature that examined the meaning of the liturgy and its transformation throughout history, the visiting of multiple services and conversations with priests and liturgy scholars.

Comparing the mass to tribal rituals I was trying to reduce it to the essence. The script was focused on participatory part, singing and and incarnating expressions. Inn collaborations with musicians we edited scores of a selection of Gregorian chants emphasising simplicity and repetition. Together with a group of visual artist a public courtyard was transformed onto a church. Again we were focusing on the essential elements which contribute the experience. Several paintings and sculptures were made which resemble a contemporary interpretation of the christian narrative.

The authentic presence of the work created much confrontation with both liberal and catholic groups who were trying to stop it. In conversations I was trying to explain my interest in bringing art and religion closer together through their common interest in the sublime.

The Tradition of the Catholic Mass

“The mass is the highest celebration of the Cristian Community. The main aspect of it is a sacrifice. In general sacrifice means an offering or gift to God to show him love and ask for his mercy. Before Jesus Christ has come to our world the Jewish people were using different goods for the sacrifice for example food or animals. The Son of God offered himself on the cross to his Father as the most pure sacrifice, the divine victim of godly nature. He offered himself to free the human kind from their sins. Nothing can be more valuable to God when his own son, therefore for the Christians there can be no other sacrifice after the one of Christ.

When Christians celebrate the mass they represent the divine sacrifice again. Jesus uses the Priest as an instrument to transform the Bread and Wine into his Body and Blood, this is called transubstantiation by the catholics. And because the blood as wine in the chalice is separated from the body in the bread Jesus sacrifices himself again in the moment of the Consecration to free his followers from sins every time we celebrate the Mass. In the communion we consume Jesus Body and Blood to unite with his divine substance.” Priest Sebastian Haller, Uttrecht


Performance script