Marianische Antiphonen I
„Unter deinen Schutz und Schirm fliehen wir“
“The greatest magician would be the one who could so enchant himself, that to him the results of his own wizardry would seem like alien, self-assured apparitions. Could that not be the case with us?”
Friedrich von Hardenberg, called Novalis; fragments
GABRIEL Marianische Antiphonen I „Unter deinen Schutz und Schirm fliehen wir“ [Marian Antiphons I “Beneath thy protection we seek refuge”] is a performative narrative and exhibition by the fictional character Gabriel. It focuses on the search for, contemplation of and refuge in the mythical figure of Mary. Mary in his conception is not only experienced as the Christian mother of God, but also as a powerful symbolic figure representing the female face of God.
The exhibition is a time capsule. We accompany Gabriel – the seeker, pilgrim, artist, activist, human being and friend – on one of his pilgrimage’s stations: to the Templar Castle Convento de Cristo in Portugal.
The authors of the performance and exhibition are Julian M. H. Schindele and Edwin W. Moes – who also embodies Gabriel. The photographs are by Stefan Hähnel.
In the fourth year of Gabriel’s pilgrimage, photographer Stefan Hähnel visited the mythopoet, pilgrim and performance artist in Portugal. Together with Gabriel and his four black dogs, Hähnel experienced everyday life on the streets, in villages, and in the wilderness around the Marian pilgrimage site of Fátima. In the summer of 1917, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to three shepherd children at this place. The encounter between Hähnel and Gabriel resulted in the documentation of a narrative performance in three chapters: The Marianische Antiphonen [Marian Antiphons].
With this exhibition we open the first chapter. Its focus is a performance that took place on August 5, 2019 at the Convento de Cristo in Tomar, Portugal. Founded in 1162 by the Knights Templar, this imposing fortified monastery is located about 20 km east of the ‘epicentre’ of Fátima. Its inner church, an octagonal building, is modeled on the scale of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the old town of Jerusalem. The performance is part of the ongoing Gesamtkunstwerk and pilgrimage WEG, which Gabriel/Moes started on September 15, 2015. WEG again is part of the Mnemosyne-Cycle by Bublitz dedicated to the European culture and memory.
Marianische Antiphonen I is the artist’s first solo exhibition in collaboration with Bublitz. It is an individual mythology, a religious field and overlapping cosms of different European and non-European, ancient and pagan worlds of images, meaning, and symbols.
The title of the performance cycle refers to the concept of antiphons (ancient Greek “counter-sounding, answering”). These are call and response chants in which musical elements are answered by other instruments or voices. The structural openness of Gabriel’s performance art can also be metaphorically understood as an ‘antiphon’. He performs without a stage, without a fourth wall, in public space, without a visor, without (art) institutions behind him, exposed to the looks, actions and answers of others – for better or worse.
Marian antiphons are invocations to the Blessed Mother in the liturgy of the Catholic Church. Gabriel has borrowed the verse Beneath thy protection we seek refuge – Sub tuum præsidium confugimus from the oldest of these hymns. A call and a cry out to the protective Madonna, who, perhaps, gives us, metaphysically homeless, some shelter. “This is my service to Maria,” one note of Gabriel’s proclaims.
Photos © Stefan Hähnel