Innsbruck, August 9th, 2022 (KAP) Edith Stein – canonized philosopher and mystic, Jewess and Christian nun, women’s rights activist and victim of the Shoah – is the focus of an exhibition from August 10th to December 11th in the Museum Stift Stams on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of her death. The local Cistercian abbey, the Ecclesiastical University of Education (KPH) Edith Stein, named after the martyr, and the diocese of Innsbruck are thus implementing a suggestion made by the art historian and bishop Hermann Glettler. With contemporary works from galleries and museums across Europe, the show “Losing by Winning” spans an arc of female mysticism from the Middle Ages to the present day, the Innsbruck Diocese announced on Tuesday.
Curator Hubert Salden collects more than 30 works by Gustav Metzger, Luc Tuymans, Marcel Odenbach, Louise Bourgeois or the Tyrolean artists Thomas Riess and Franz Wassermann. Loans come from Antwerp, Berlin, Barcelona and Vienna. According to Salden, social aspects of today’s society and their correspondence in Edith Stein’s lifetime are discussed, as well as the possibilities of the visual arts as an expression of the spiritual in a pluralistic society shaped by diversity.
An open dialogue between art and church is a corresponding concern of Bishop Glettler, who is also an artist. “Quality art draws people out of their reserves, provokes and calls for responsibility,” says Glettler: “Anyone who engages in conscious perception, serious looking and considering in our nervous times, gets on the track of faith.” Contemporary art can provide an impetus to “leave familiar territory in order to be open to an encounter with the deepest secret of our existence”. For the bishop, Edith Stein is also “a leading figure in reconciliation, because her biography reflects all the challenges and fault lines of the 20th century.”
Evangelization in dialogue with art
The Stams abbot German Erd and Bishop Hermann are certain that the church can pursue the urgent task of evangelization, especially in serious dialogue with contemporary art: “As a church, we must not say goodbye to the present and only look backwards to the traditional heritage regard. Contemporary art is an inspiration and a mandate to try to convey the Christian faith authentically with a critical eye on the present. Quality art exposes the doubts and hope potentials of today. Art and faith stand for an ancient, not always conflict-free but definitely inspiring fraternity.”
Especially young people invited
In the new school year in particular, the initiators are hoping for many teachers from the fields of history, philosophy, religion and art education to visit the exhibition with their school classes and thus offer young people access to the conflicting areas of faith and knowledge, mysticism and world responsibility. The introduction to the life and work of Edith Stein in the cloister of the monastery is intended to facilitate this confrontation with Edith Stein.
The show will open with around 30 exhibits on Tuesday evening in the Stams Abbey Museum, before which a festive service will be celebrated at 5 p.m. in the Abbey Basilica. The opening times are Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays and public holidays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.