We (Gabriel Widing & Áron Birtalan) are excited to announce that our project 𝑳𝒐𝒗𝒆’𝒔 𝑺𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒏 𝑵𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒔 is one of the awardees for The Church of Sweden’s cultural prize in 2023. The award consists of a grant that will help us in the initial stage of the project, studying, rehearsing, wayward dreaming.
⛓️ ✨ 🪨 🔥 🌱 ⛲ 🌀
We plan to make Love’s Seven Names a participatory piece that guides audiences through a series of collective contemplations, inspired by the poem of the same name*, by the 13th-century Beguine mystic Hadewijch. Part erotic lovesong, part theological treatise, 7 Names is a dazzling piece of poetry, whose secretive language can be seen as both a manyfold encounter with the mystical bodies of God, and as a clandestine manual for spiritual techniques that mix more accepted forms of piety with some seriously daring stuff, bordering on magical practices.
By the 1300s, the Church’s attitude towards Beguine women’s communities and their ‘DIY Catholicism’ became more and more hostile. Communities were closed, and women were forced to give up their way of life for fear of punishment. A fellow Beguine, the French Marguerite Porete was sentenced to die for refusing to renounce her book and mystical manual, The Mirror of Simple Souls.
The story of the Beguines ties into a long history of bodies and practices marginalised, silenced and killed by the religious powers that be. In the voices persecuting Beguines, one hears echoes of orthodox Christianity waging wars upon Gnostic and Cathar heresies in the centuries before Hadewijch; as well as the horrors of the witch trials at the hands of both Catholic and Protestant patriarchies in the centuries following. Collaborating on this project with a mainline church body presents a challenge that we are both yet to live through, and at once feel an urgency to take on. We thank the Church of Sweden for trusting us as autonomous artists, opening a dialogue without expecting anyone to ‘clean things up’. Looking forward to what next year brings.