about misericordia


In the autumn of 2016 Oude Kerk is organizing a program about ‘new mercy’. In the coming months, the Seven Works of Mercy will be critically held up to the light from the perspective of diverse cultural traditions and future perspectives. Just like the Italian painter Caravaggio, who depicted the most renowned Seven Works of Mercy and had normal people pose for them, we will be talking to people from different parts of society.

Political, economic and climate-related developments around the globe have resulted in growing chasms between safety and insecurity, between prosperity and poverty, between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. Right now there is a pressing and urgent call to our sense of ‘mercy’. But is this centuries old ideal of mercy in the year 2016 still relevant and realistic? Isn’t it time for a reassessment? How can we prevent that the need for mercy results in empty promises and half-hearted deeds? And who is your neighbor in a life in the midst of refugees and so-called Facebook friends?

By way of this investigation, Oude Kerk wants to strengthen the relationship between art and society by involving a broad group of people in the exploration of ‘new mercy’ through art, debate and research. The aim is besides the one-off donations for disaster relief or relief campaigns on Facebook to look for forms of mercy that are unconditional. The plan is to take a journalistic approach to the subject and send different ‘reporters’ out, in the Netherlands and beyond, to investigate the state of affairs with regard to mercy. For example, what role does charity play in the Islamic faith or for bankers at Amsterdam Zuidas (business district)? How does mercy show itself in the contemporary refugee crisis? What is its everyday relevance?

Conducted in association with social organizations and media partners, this fieldwork serves as the prelude to an elaboration by five different artists and other interpreters. The outcome will lead to a series of new works of mercy in the form of ideas, visualizations or activities for new and alternative forms of mercy. These will be presented in Oude Kerk in the autumn through a series of public gatherings and will be published on this blog. The project will also continue to evolve in 2017.

Misericordia is a collaboration between Oude Kerk and Non-fiction and is made possibly by the help of The Art of Impact fund, Ars DonandiFundatie van de Santheuvel, Sobbe, Iona Stichting, Protestantse Kerk en Diaconie Amsterdam, Stichting RCOAK, Fonds Sluyterman van Loo, Stichting de Zaaier