Das Abendmahl (The Last Supper)
An art project about community, communication, and breaking bread
Imagine a large hall with 10-12 large pictures framed in dark, heavy wooden frames on the walls. The images differ in colour and style, but unite in theme and story. They show 13 people who had come together to break bread with strangers and to share communion. 12 stories of encounters and discussions , one story of a supper that brought them together. a community.
For the last 10 years, I have been dealing with the topic of “community” and the role of the artist in the community. This was done by working artistically with sub-communities or subcultures, thereby enabling their inclusion in the general discussion. “Subcultures”/social groups I have worked with include Russian and Ukrainian mothers, adults with autism, Syrian refugee children, Swiss women leaders, Belarusian LGBTQ, and people with dementia.
A direct side effect of these art projects was the possibility of an informal shared intellectual experience through art with all participants. This often resulted in a strengthened personal self-awareness, which led to a constructive “we-feeling”. For me personally, this feeling became the main motivation for my art.
The series of projects mentioned was brought to a halt by the corona pandemic. After a break of almost three years, I was able to visualize a new art project in early February 2023:
Inspired by an article that explained that: When a couple sits together with their smartphones on, their brain actually sends a feeling of loneliness, so they are actually lonely even when they are together. I took an old idea and worked on an “intimacy” project, portraying couples and asking them what intimacy means to them.
Inspired by an article that explained that: When a couple sits together with their smartphones on, their brain actually sends a feeling of loneliness, so they are actually lonely even when they are together. I took an old idea and worked on an “intimacy” project, portraying couples and asking them what intimacy
A key question that emerged from the project was whether our children could achieve the same intimacy that we can in the face of digital media and AI deluge. If they could even muster the patience and perseverance that is necessary to make a steadfast relationship possible?
The developments in the field of AI over the past few months and the more profound insight into our general relationship with technology that I have gained through the project have paved the way for the start of a new art project that I feel is of great urgency.
“Das Abbendmahl” is intended to pursue the emergence of a congregation through art. From the creation of small family cells through the small communion process with 13 people, to the common self-awareness of a church with 150 members, which is very diverse but has a clear – if only artistic-cultural – common denominator.
The project should address two main questions:
How are communities formed?
Will we be able to form or sustain a community under the influence of AI and the increasingly advanced “communication tools”?
Whether the project can actually create a community remains to be seen. However, the project was intended to bring people together both on the ground level and on the meta-level, both in the context of the smaller “Last Supper” events and in the context of the final installation.
The basic idea:
By painting different group pictures with 13 people each and putting them together to form an installation, a community with 120-150* members is created with the help of art.
In reference to the story of the “Last Supper of Christ” and its artistic traditions through the millennia, 13 people are invited to supper. In an art action somewhere between performance and installation, this «last supper» is captured in all its facets as quickly as possible.
Such “Das Abendmahl”* events are repeated throughout Switzerland, each time with new guests, until a total of around 150 people have been painted (i.e. 10-12 times).**
By means of an installation of the various “Das Abendmahl” pictures and an event where all participants can come together, a new community will ultimately be created and celebrated through art.