Wash Cycle

Spatial and video installation 2017

We must interpret the title of the spatial and video installation “Waschgang” (Wash Cycle) absolutely concretely, because dirty laundry is actually being washed. In the process, connections play a central role in this work of art. On both a symbolic and a concrete level, a connection is created between two places in Munich that are both not far from the main train station, but could hardly be more different: the gallery of the German Society for Christian Art (DG) at the headquarters of Siemens AG and the parish church of St.Paul, which is only a few metres away from the Theresienwiese and closes off the station quarter to the west.
 Empfangshalle has collected clothing left behind in and around St.Paul’s: The items left behind in front of the church – most of them discarded by day labourers from Eastern Europe who camped there in makeshift camps – forgotten clothing of church visitors and clothes donated by parishioners for the artwork, as well as liturgical garments worn by the altar boys and the parish priest, so that the collected pile of laundry in fact represents the entirety of the people who work and live around and in the Paulskirche.
 In the gallery rooms of the DG reception hall a washing machine has been installed, in which this mountain of laundry is gradually cleaned. In the drum, the individual items of clothing lose their history, their social stigma. The hierarchies represented in the clothes begin to disappear. The soiling is loosened from the fibres, diluted – and yet it also interacts with everything else. The garments are all treated alike in this rotating tub and washed with the same water. They rub up against one another, they share a space in which they are cleaned of the dirt from their very different usage histories. And after the wash, they hang on steel ropes stretched across the gallery to dry – a pair of hotpants next to a priestly tunic, a sleeping bag with a perforated lining next to a silk scarf – so that they can be used again after the end of the art installation.
 During a wash, the rotating laundry drum was filmed and the video projected onto the circular, majestic rose window over the west portal of the Paulskirche. The church thus appears as a gigantic washing machine. This references the symbolic level at the centre of all religions: the concept of purity, immaculateness has always played a central role in them – the repetitive rituals of purification that are carried out by the clergy and have to be strictly adhered to, were evolved for this purpose and are performed by the clergy for all to see. In these liturgical actions, body and soul are closely linked with each other, and questions of representation are part of the essence of the rituals.
In this installation, Empfangshalle also addresses all these questions by linking the private with the public through its symbolic visual language, the spiritual with the concrete, the artistic with the everyday.

Markus Ostermair

Solo exhibition at two locations

in the Galerie der DG and in the Kirche St. Paul Munich
9. –  11.11. 2017