Lourdes (part 1), 2021
A live (online) video essay

On summer holiday I passed Lourdes and spent a number of days wandering the streets with my camera. Now that the crowd stayed away I was able to watch the structure, the mechanism and the social behavior of this famous place of pilgrimage with a pleasant distance and tranquility.

Apart from the daily routine, full of rules and rituals such as the eucharistic celebration (in several languages) and the Maria procession, all kinds of agreements were also made about what people believe and accept as normal. For example, you agree that water from the Lourdes tap will remain sacred, even if you use it at home or refill the bottle with regular tap water.”

I get slightly jealous when I talk to people about being religious, like in Lourdes. It must feel wonderful, at a time when people doubt the veracity of news, politics, the future, to be able to place a 2000+ year old framework on reality, step into this framework and say: “This is my truth. I believe this. I'm getting support from this.

This new work, a live (online) video essay, is a form of thinking-out-loud and casting a tentative gaze on the meaning of Lourdes in this age. But by clicking and scrolling through my materials, I myself am also looking for the reason why I chose to visit this particular place. 

Duration: approx 45 min

Try-out at Gallery les Filles du Calvaire, Le samedi 6 février de 15h à 17h.

Set-up livestream, de Brakke Grond, Amsterdam, 2021

Livestream at De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam (NL), 2021

Livestream at De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam (NL), 2021

Livestream at De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam (NL), 2021

Fragment Nuns in a grid, video, Lourdes, July 2020

Nonnen weten niet waar ze moeten staan, totdat een vrijwilliger ze op de juiste plek dirigeert. Nonnen in een grid!

Notebookpage (Nuns in a grid), Lourdes 2020

Fragment Umbrella and praying, Lourdes, 2020


Review in Theaterkrant (NL) / Moos van den Broek

13 december 2020 Roughly translated:

[...] "Of a completely different order is the work of visual artist Paulien Oltheten, who zooms in on the phenomenon of Lourdes. She films a woman approaching the holy place on her knees. But especially the woman's handbag seems to make a fascinating journey. It produces a scene that is as painful as it is hilarious, which also raises moral questions. Film becomes theater and theater becomes film. "

Candle, c-print, Lourdes 2020

Chaplain, c-print, Lourdes 2020

Chaplain on bench interview - Useful footage - talks about pandemic in Lourdes - rosary - during interview putting facemark off - after putting on again - nice follow up homeless sits down - next to him - having mercy visibly doesn't work - turning away from each other

Notebookpage (Chaplain) + Translation, Lourdes 2020

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© Paulien Oltheten, 2021