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Is new life possible after death? The myth of the Phoenix bird, which rises again from its own ashes, stands for this possibility of a new beginning after collapse - just like the passion story of Jesus Christ, who rises again after his death on the cross.


At the beginning of the Passion season, which commemorates the Passion of Jesus Christ, the Belgian artist Kris Martin takes up the Christian resurrection myth artistically: Beginning with Ash Wednesday, Kris Martin shows words painted from ashes that refer to the Passion of Jesus Christ in an enigmatic way: DOVE, BREAD, FISH, LINEN, TABLE, BED, VINE, SNAKE, MAN... - painted on the gallery parapets and in the apse of the church, each made from the ashes of those objects and living beings to which the words refer. Kris Martin shows the process of their burning in a video in the sacristy of the church.

In this way, Kris Martin comments in a subtle way on the Reformation controversy over images, which began 500 years ago at the beginning of Passiontide in 1522 in Wittenberg: Are images in churches legitimate against the background of the biblical ban on images? Martin Luther and his colleague Andreas Karlstadt were divided over this question, among others. Kris Martin's word installation strictly adheres to the ban on images - and yet produces images: Inner images that arise involuntarily when the words are read. It is not the artist but the viewers who create images.

At the opening of the exhibition as part of the Artists' Ash Wednesday (2.3.2022, 6 p.m. in St. Matthew's Church), the Berlin art historian Horst Bredekamp will unfold in his "artist's speech" the topicality of the Wittenberg picture controversy for the present-day handling of pictures - not only in churches - with a view to the work of Kris Martin.

To accompany Kris Martin's exhibition, a series of sermons entitled "Nothing but Words" will be held in St. Matthew's Church from 6 March to 15 April 2022: On each Sunday of Passiontide at 6 pm, the sermon will focus on one of Kris Martin's words: DOVE, BREAD, FISH, LINEN, TABLE, BED, VINE, SNAKE, MAN... - In addition, on 10 March 2022 at 7 pm, there will be a talk on the biblical prohibition of images: As part of the series "BILDERSTREIT! - What is allowed to be shown?", the President of the Academy of Sciences Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Christoph Markschies and the image scientist and curator Prof. Dr. Almuth Bruckstein will discuss the question of "GOD" in the image.

The room installation "Phoenix" is a cooperation with the König Galerie.

St. Matthew's Church is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm.

The room installation can be visited free of charge.

(Program in German)
Additional information
  • 3 March to 18 April 2022, St. Matthew's Church in Berlin's Kulturforum.
  • Opening on 2 March 2022 at 6 p.m. in the context of the Ecumenical Ash Wednesday of Artists