The Oude Kerk in Amsterdam is the city's oldest building, historically the place where the poor would receive food and shelter and today a center for contemporary art. Revisiting this past, the Oude Kerk initiated a project on the meaning of 'mercy' today. Curated with Michiel van Iersel, Misericordia developed into a research, series of performance nights and a publication.
"Right now there is a pressing and urgent call to our sense of 'mercy'. But what does the age-old adage 'love of your neighbour' mean today? Who is our neighbour in this day and age? Would those in need of help benefit most from more or less empathy? And aren't we primarily helping ourselves by doing good?"
As part of the project, five researchers have been commissioned to explore and question the meaning of mercy today. They spoke with givers and receivers of mercy, and wrote personal reports and essays. They take the reader to places where mercy is either present in abundance or nowhere to be found, from Amsterdam's business district to the fringes of Europe.
These stories formed the inspiration for a series of new art projects at the Oude Kerk, ranging from intimate encounters between strangers and virtual reality installations allowing to step in someone else's body, to sonic deconstructions of everything that has to do with mercy. All texts, art works and reflections have been collected in the publication Misericordia: in search of new mercy.
In collaboration with researchers Amal Alhaag, Merve Bedir, Jeroen Smit, Mirjam Vossen and Maarten Zeegers, artists BeAnotherLab, Natalia Dominguez Rangel, Luca Hillen, Lada Hršak, Lina Issa, Tina Cake Line, Alaa Minawi, Cathalijne Smulders and Manolis Tsipos. Photography by Khalid Amakran, graphic design by Maarten Kanters.