Mysterious, serene, mysterious, unearthly and elusive: associations that the term ‘mystic’ often evokes. A theme as old as humanity, which carries spirituality, faith, awareness and hope. A theme that has a special place in Limburg with its rich religious past. At the same time, right now – under the heading meaning – it is very topical; especially in the wake of the pandemic, which brought us to repentance and quieted our hectic lives.
The Mystique – Rituals exhibition. Silence. Ecstasy. can be seen in the Limburg Museum from 15 October 2022 to 19 March 2023 and appeals to several senses in a playful way. Centuries-old classical works from the museum’s collection are combined with works by contemporary artists such as Rineke Dijkstra, Les Deux Garçons, Hans Op de Beeck and melanie bonajo.
Stimulate your senses
Thanks to the region’s Catholic history, the Limburg Museum’s collection contains many religious works: from photographs to relics and from devotional prints to books. These collection items form part of the starting point for this exhibition. The museum adds a wide range of contemporary painting, sculpture, installation, design, video and photography. Sometimes modest, other times exuberant. The mystical is not tangible, but something that must be experienced in the exhibition’s three rooms, which stimulate your senses with their own atmosphere: rituals, silence and ecstasy.
“This theme is as old as humanity. Close your eyes and look inside. Or look outside and feel one with the world around you. Everyone is still searching for the meaning and essence of existence. That search, that is the essence of mysticism.” Guest curators Edwin Becker and Laura Adams.
The interior of the first room is inspired by the calm architecture of Dom van der Laan, known for the monastery of Mamelis (Limburg). Catching the eye is the monumental painting The Last Judgment by Hubertus Goltzius. On this stand the many vulnerable, naked figures who are waiting in panic for God’s final judgment. In the same room are the sculptures of a crucified chimpanzee flanked by two monkeys: one praying, the other admonishing silence. This work by the Limburg artist duo Les Deux Garçons is a reference to the usual arrangement of Mary and John next to the crucified Christ in Christian iconography.
This space invites the visitor to self-reflection. Just as prayers and rituals in the religious sense can lead to conversion, this space displays contemporary artworks that make the visitor reflect. In the center of the room is a large installation by Hans Op de Beeck. This Belgian artist believes in the old idea of catharsis: the tragic and problematic but at the same time consoling power of the image. Through a mist of gray tones, his work draws the visitor into a supernatural dream world.
The final space is dominated by ecstasy: the enthusiastic state in which contact with the divine is experienced in many religions. The expressive colors give this room an atmosphere of excitement. The works show how the intoxication of ecstasy is expressed in different ways. Like the Limburgers who celebrate the festival and are captivated by the carnival music and costumes. Or like the young Spanish bullfighters in Rineke Dijkstra’s photos. These toreadors, caught just after their fight with the ‘beast’, experience a moment of relief exhausted and at times affected by the intoxication of battle. Or as in Melanie Bonajo’s Fake Paradise, where the substance ayahuasca is at the center. The people in the video search through trance for new rituals, a new relationship with nature and their gender.
Performances and presentations
In addition to the exhibition, the Limburg Museum organizes a program of performances and presentations. Its interpretation is an exciting combination of historical heritage and contemporary performances, both in the museum and in a number of strikingly mysterious locations in Limburg. From yoga and meditation workshops and tarot card readings to activities at places such as the pilgrimage site Clemensdomein in Brunssum, the church in Wahlwiller with paintings by Aad de Haas and the Cuypershuis in Roermond.
Studio Job, Wim Delvoye, Ted Noten, Les Deux Garçons, Dirk Braeckman, Hans Op de Beeck, Julius von Bismarck, Koen Vanmechelen, Rineke Dijkstra, Marcel van Hoef, Chris Berens, Gilles Polet, melanie bonajo, Luc Peters, Geert Noij and Ramon Gieling.
Artists from the Limburg Museum’s collection:
Hubertus Goltzius, Aad de Haas, Armand Bouten, Schillings Collection, Gène Eggen and a rich collection of devotional images and figurines, rosaries, relics, costumes, videos and much more.
Source Limburg Museum.