From Iceland — ArtMass: Art As Religion And Religion As Art

ArtMass: Art As Religion And Religion As Art

Published March 9, 2016

ArtMass: Art As Religion And Religion As Art
Gabríel Benjamin
Photo by
Katrín Lilja Ingudóttir Jónsdóttir

Katrín Inga Jónsdóttir Hjördísardóttir has been performing her ArtMass in various spaces and on multiple occasions since 2009. The latest space to host three performances of ArtMass is the Ekkisens gallery. Consisting of art psalms and sermons, the piece offers guests the chance to worship art in all its varied forms.

We called Katrín to ask her more about this enigmatic show, and found out that it’s about religious freedom.

Where did the idea of the ArtMass come from?
Where didn’t it come from? It was in the air… in dialogue with the subjects of art and religion, and most of all the dialogue here in Iceland about government and religion. It really started though in 2009 at a group exhibition in Kling & Bang, which was open during Easter and Good Friday [a day when it’s illegal to have any public event], where the artists had an all day and all night performance; that’s where my Mass came from.

You’ve been performing it for many years now, has it always been shown around the time teenagers have their confirmation ceremony?
Nope. It was born around that time, but the Mass has been performed at various times of the year.

In what way has it evolved over time?
It’s challenging to frame it, but the performance has not evolved per-sé, while the meanings—the context and surroundings—have. The sermon that’s one part of the ArtMess is a text montage taken from various sermons from Icelandic priests’ Sundays masses from 2008-2009—a time when everyone was suffering from the post-economic trauma.

How much of the ArtMass is mockery of religion, and how much is about paying respect to art?

It’s always about respect. I believe it’s healthy to make fun of yourself and your beliefs—humour is one element that keeps you alive and gives you hope for a better world! The ArtMass is reflection on the paradox that characterises religion—and in many ways the art too—because art is a religion. 🙂

The ArtMass is performed today at 20:00, and on Sunday at 15:00 at Ekkisens, Bergstaðastræti 25b. Admission is free!

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