Edition of 750
155 × 220 mm
‘I had heard that some had been so wrought up by the play as to become temporarily insane, and run about town haunted by wildest hallucinations.’
— Joseph Krauskopf, A Rabbi’s Impressions of the Oberammergau Passion Play, 1900
In the 17th century, when the Bavarian village of Oberammergau was struck by the plague, its pious citizens came together and made a covenant with God. If he halted the disease, they would reenact The Passion of Christ every ten years for eternity.
When the deaths ceased, the villagers delivered on their promise. A makeshift stage was erected, and the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ was presented for the first time. The performance, like many others of its era, put the blame for Christ’s agonies on what was considered to be his evil opponents: the Jews.
Three hundred years after its inception, Adolf Hitler attended Oberammergau’s special Jubilee and declared the Play a cultural treasure.
The 1934 performance is the starting point for Regine Petersen’s image-text based narrative that unfolds on two levels: that of the world’s most prominent Passion Play and its inherent antisemitism, and that of daily life in the National Socialist village. Postcards of the Play’s protagonists are interwoven with travelogues, local police records and denazification protocols, gradually undermining their propagandistic function and blurring the boundaries between the solemn stage and a disquieting historical reality.
Composed as an allegorical tale with satirical nuances, Petersen’s Passion Play is a virtuosic reprisal of History’s passions for propaganda, populism and moral corruption in their shifting albeit ubiquitous manifestations.
About the Artist
German photographer Regine Petersen (b.1976) uses photographs as a personal vehicle for contemplation. She sets out to take pictures, but not with a definitive goal or end-point, giving her the space to be continuously reflective and allowing the work to develop in unpredictable directions. Her images have an aura of ambiguity, holding many tensions in a single frame. Petersen was awarded the National Media Museum Photography Awards for her series Find a Falling Star, a continuation of a project on meteorites which is to be published in a book. It will include studio-based typologies, observations at the sites of meteoritic events, accompanying text and historic images, following the idea that a meteorite can be looked at from many different angles: cosmological, astronomical, geological, philosophical, historical and emotional. The various aspects will be edited together to form an associative journey through the world of meteorites, and to investigate what they can tell us about the world we live in.
About the Publisher
The Eriskay Connection is a Dutch studio for book design and an independent publisher. They focus on contemporary storytelling at the intersection of photography, research and writing.