hocus pocus, hoc est corpus

7 November 2014 – 11 January 2015

Thomaskerk Amsterdam

* Mehraneh Atashi
* Eamonn Harnett
* Aapo Nikkanen
* Smi Vuković

Curated by Julia Geerlings

‘Hocus pocus’ is an incantation used by magicians and jugglers to express some sort of transformation. The origins of the term remain obscure, but some believe it originates from a corruption or parody of the Roman Catholic liturgy of the Eucharist. The phrase “Hoc est corpus meum” meaning “This is my body” is used when the bread and wine transubstantiate in the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Four artists with different cultural backgrounds have been asked to respond to the context of the church and to make a new work that refers to transformations inside and outside the body. The artists show an interest in rituals and research the alchemistic transformations of ideas, actions and materials.

In the work of Mehraneh Atashi (IR, 1980) ordinary objects are transformed through chemical and physical processes to show their mystical and alchemistic qualities. Atashi intervenes in the modern religious building by dripping bread substances on the sacral furniture. In this intervention she is not only referring to the sacramental bread, but also to the social and political history of bread.

Eamonn Harnett (NL/IRL, 1989) is interested in the symbolic structures and ritualistic actions of different cultures. Especially with cultures, such as the Navajo Indians with their healing ceremonies, which have a strong connection with nature. Harnett shows a new video work at the Thomaskerk, which he shot in nature during his residency at Kunsthuis SYB. The video focuses on the microcosm of a wetland, where larvae transform into grown dragonflies.

Aapo Nikkanen (FIN, 1982) places Holy Water bottles inside of Vitamin Water bottles in the church and is questioning with this action the belief of holy water and vitamins. In one of the corners of the church Nikkanen will show a meditative video work with a colour-changing mandala or hypnosis wheel. The work can be seen as a healing tool to achieve a state of trance at the viewer.

In the painting installations of Smi Vuković (CA/RS, 1979) revealing and concealing comes to play by using carefully draped textiles and reflective surfaces. Direct transfers of the body are layered on textile that resembles a shroud, a relic or a prehistoric petroglyph. The installation at the church hints to a tomb or an obscure practice of rituals.

‘hocus pocus, hoc est corpus’ is the third exhibition by the Thomas Open art committee and curator Julia Geerlings that explores ways of placing art back into the Protestant church. The modern religious building is characterized by a sober interior where every corner is symbolic of a ritual that is designed for the Protestant worship. Three liturgical functions are central in the design of the Thomaskerk: the Baptism, the Word and the Lord’s Supper.