Madonna Mia I
1991 – video installation for 2 monitors
Two monitors stand across from each other at a distance of approx. 10 meters. One is on a black wooden pedestal (1.2 m. high) the other is on an "altar" (a 1.5 m. high and 1.8 m. wide wooden box covered with a marble patterned plastic sheet. Artificial flowers have been placed at the foot of the "altar". In the center of the "altar" stands the monitor. Candles (sanctuary lamps) burn to the left and right of it.
On the video altar, a "Madonna" (Evelyn Plank) attempts to keep her composure. The one across from her (Axel Meinhardt) struggles as an "Admirer of the Madonna" to attract attention to himself. He calls to her, sings pious songs that honor her, toasts her, smiles, courts her favor. The "Madonna", however, only rarely gives in and makes little reactions. A wink, a slight sigh, a smile, a wrinkle of the nose, a questioning side glance. It's not easy to be a statue! And sooo boring ...
A very Bavarian video installation. Bavaria, you pious land! Madonna mia, Patrona Bavariae! A woman is admired in two (or more) ways. It is no real accident that the "Madonna" appears to us in a television set. We pray to it and everything on it that appears to be "heavenly"; the apparatus enthroned on little "house altars". A tongue-in-cheek devotion.
To make the video the "Madonna" as well as the "Admirer of the Madonna" had to act or keep their composure in front of the camera for the length of an hour. The establishing shot is never changed; there is no editing.
This installation could be seen on 28 May 1991 in Munich, Steinseestraße 2, as part of the proT-Theater series "Mariandacht - die letzte" (Admiration of Mary - the Last) by Alexeij Sagerer. Every night in May 1991, as in the years before, Alexeij Sagerer and his colleagues performed the same play; a piece reminiscent of the actionist performance of the '60s. Each night a different artist was invited to take part in the performance in his or her own way - or to present something in contrast to the play. My one-hour video installation stood to the left and the right of the first row of seats. It began at the same time as Sagerer’s action and lasted only a few minutes longer than the piece. Just as my installation related thematically to the Bavarian "May devotions" phenomenon, my video actors also seemed at times to react to the plays developments. Some examples would be an annoyed look aside or the "Admirer of the Madonna" using his beer glass to toast in the direction of the stage.