Church Hymns
Church Hymns
Church Hymns
Church Hymns

Maria Hahnenkamp


Dom Museum Wien


Modern and Contemporary art

On view

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Photo: Leni Deinhardstein, Lisa Rastl, Dom Museum Wien
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A choreography of liturgical dress and chant

Maria Hahnenkampt uses colorful liturgical robes and traditionel hyms for this Installation, which addresses hierarchies and rolemodels in the catholic church.

Ornate embroidered priestly vestments from four centuries are ceremoniously put on and taken off in an endlessly repetitive ritual, accompanied by liturgical chants. In her audiovisual work, artist Maria Hahnenkamp contrasts traditional church hymns taken from Gotteslob, the uniform German Catholic hymn and prayer book, with commentating texts. Over the homogeneous sound of the choir, a soprano solo voice is played back on a second track, paraphrasing the church hymns with found or artist-commissioned texts mostly from the context of psychoanalysis or philosophical literature. Interwoven with the chorus, sometimes overlaying it or freely intoning, the solo voice expands the solemn chant with questioning words.

The work negotiates role images and power hierarchies passed down over the centuries. Taking, through church choruses, an analytic approach to these tenets, which have been perpetuated until today, and processing them in a visual-art context, the artist makes way for their critical reflection.

Visually, the focus of Hahnenkamp’s work is on the liturgical vestments whose magnificent colors and ornamentation make for an essential part of Roman-Catholic scenography. It is a pageant of colorful floral splendor, intertwining vines, and geometrical patterns that passes before the eye. One can almost feel the different materials on the skin: linen, velvet and silk, brocade and damask.

The camera view of the priestly vestments emblematically references the male center and main actor of the liturgical celebration of Mass. The camera angle is so narrow that, except for his hand, the person himself does not become visible—which is quite in keeping with the ritual of the Holy Mass, in which the individual disappears behind the robes, taking on the role of a dignified minister of God.