Eva Petrič straight in front of the altar of St. Stephen’s Cathedral

For the first time in the history of the notable St. Stephansdom in Vienna, Austria, the leadership of the church entrusted the creation of this year’s Fasting Cloth to the artist from Slovenia – to Eva Petrič, a multimedia artist working in between Ljubljana, Vienna and New York. The inauguration of her art piece titled Collective Heart  will take place at the presbytery of the famous church on Febr. 9 at 20:00.

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Eva Petrič  with her assemblage in Vienna. All photos: Marijan Zlobec

Her Collective Heart will cover the main church altar for 40 days, till March 26, 2016. The project has been curated by the well know Vienna based artist, prof. Joachim Lothar Gartner, the former longtime president of the Vienna’s Kuenstlerhaus.

The art intervention by Eva Petrič consists of a 55 square meters textile assemblage under the title Collective Heart, made of over one thousand recycled handmade lace and crochet pieces that were thrown away, inherited, donated or found and bought at flea markets around the world. The artist exposed the main heart aorta with pieces of lace made in Idrija pattern, »endemic« to Slovenia.

These pieces were donated to her by relatives of an old deceased lace maker who sustained her five children family by making laces. However, at the age of 80 she was not able to sell her laces since her fingers, affected by arthritis, could not make strong enough knots. The artist hopes that these and other donated pieces, included into this installation and also into her forthcoming installation placed under the cathedral ceiling in May, will expose the connectivity among people and generations, for which Eva Petrič believes »is much stronger than we are aware of.«

Eva Petrič cordially invites to the inauguration of her fasting cloth in Vienna

With trans-generational contents of her assemblages working in an archetype manner the artist wishes to leave a Slovene imprint in this famous cathedral. The lace assemblage expresses the tradition of Slovenia, which the artist – by transferring it into her art installation – globalizes it and places it on a universal level.

Vienna’s St. Stephen is not merely a holy place

»St. Stephen is a holy place for me, since it is one of the oldest gothic cathedrals in Central Europe and is visited by pilgrims from all around the world. Among people in Vienna it is the symbol of spiritual place for all good willed people. It has a unique historical value and connotation… We need only to remember the parting of Mozart precisely in this church, after which all physical traces of him were lost.

Whenever I pass this church, I am fascinated by it; it bestows us with the notion of our smallness. I can’t stop admiring this church that lives with the Viennese people even if they are not Catholics, but are visiting it as people with humanistic experiences and aspirations. Probably at least half of its visitors are atheists – the fact that is not valid for other churches in Vienna. Maybe only the cathedral in Salzburg reminds of it.

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Eva Petrič

My installation has been created in a dialogue with the history of this church and its spiritual power. It is especially tied to its main altar. It will cover it functioning as a fasting cloth immediately after the Shrove Tuesday, at the beginning of the fasting Wednesday. This is why a precise date was chosen which cannot be changed not even for a single day in a particular year.

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In these moments my fasting cloth is referring also to the destiny of a large crowd of people around the world, probably about 60 millions of refugees in various countries and regions. These people need not only the symbolic cloth of a settled, safe and optimistic life. They need also stable, socially ordered base, on which to survive in basic terms, and on which to then further create the vision of a home country – even if at the moment there is no possibility of a fast return home.

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Eva Petrić and Joachim Lothar Gartner

The fasting cloth connects the church with the travelling of little Jesus and of Mary and Joseph, and as well the cloth in which Jesus’s body was wrapped after it was taken off from the cross.

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The cloth is a symbol of Veronika, who offered the cloth to Christ at his Stations of the cross to dry his sweat, but we know nowadays that she was herself ready to dry off his forehead of his sweat. She is a symbol of woman’s courage, risking with her gesture her own life.

There are numerous symbols that visitors can feel in their own context and particularly in accordance with their contemplation; and even more so with that which is the base of each and everybody. And these people are in Vienna and in Vienna’s Stephansdom always numerous; and perhaps they are precisely here so varied that we can hardly understand this in its entirety.

My message is the way of peace, my thought is oriented toward the global destruction of nature and environment; towards a world that has lost its compass and does not have enough strength to cut an end into its doing, to see that it represents one of the last generations of people capable to survive. However, it does not think even a century and even less so a millennium ahead.

My fasting cloth is a composition of little pieces, connected and webbed as are connected and entangled the races, colors of skin, ages, genders, different professions of people… Everything is connected and interwoven, since at the end, in spite of all differences, we are all the same people with the same pain caused by injustice. This is even more painful in case of destruction of our home country, not being guilty for it and with no hope and even less love.

The fasting cloth is covering the altar because it wants to tell that the problem lies in religions, which are nowadays less and less reasonable in their adversities and militant requests to people as individuals and as broader state and region communities. It poses a question on what drives the person who is able to kill innocent people just because of their religion and against their religion.

The fasting cloth is covering the beauty of life, which might not exist anymore. It covers all past sufferings, here in Vienna the Vienna sufferings, if we only remind ourselves on bombing of Vienna at the end of the 2nd world war. The elderly Viennese generation still remember this. The fasting cloth covers also all that, which is not beautiful…«

Three projects of Eva Petrič in Vienna until July 6

The art project of Eva Petrič will consist of three projects spanning from Febr 9 to July 6: The first one will be an art intervention in the form of fasting cloth in size 11m x 5 m, made from recycled pieces of handmade laces, called Collective Heart, covering the main altar of St. Stephen’s Cathedral from February 9 till March 26. The second project, the art installation Love – Belief –  Hope, Eden transplanted, consisting of three large lace assemblages in the shape of emotional clouds, floating under the cathedral ceiling, and of light projections in turquoise color, will be on display from May 3 till June 13. The third project will be a parallel exhibition of shadow images with the title Molecules of Emotions, being on display at the Curhaus from May 3 to July 6

Marijan Zlobec

 

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