Lauryn Youden, '"My Love” a series of sonic rituals at a time of illness and death', 2021

Lauryn Youden

“My Love” a series of sonic rituals at a time of illness and death, 2021


Saturday 29 May 2021


“My Love” a series of sonic rituals at a time of illness and death is a performance series that invites a group of people to come together and engage in the mercurial intimacy of listening to music as a collective.

On 29 May 2021, the day of the performance, Mercury went retrograde. As Mercury is the planet of communication, when retrograde all methods of communication are reversed, flipped, mirrored and a queering of language, articulation and correspondence takes place – where dialog is located in a liminal space and the technologies of the heart become tools of communication. Where rituals, touch, movement, rest and listening are how one navigates this space/time and allow one to connect with others.  

It is within this same space that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, while Constanze Weber, his bride to be, was deathly ill, he prayed for her life to be saved - making within that prayer a vow to compose a mass in exchange. This piece of music would later come to be known as the ‘Great Mass in C Minor, K.427.’ The act of composing a work in exchange for the life and health of a loved one is a queer mercurial ritual. As is the devotional gesture of writing into the composition the part of the mezzo-soprano, including solos in the “Christe eleison" section of the Kyrie movement and the aria "Et incarnatus est", specifically for Constance, a respected mezzo-soprano, to sing once recovered. And it is a reincarnation of these very rituals every time the mass is performed and listened to.

We also know this history of the Great Mass in C Minor, K.427, through yet another queer mercurial navigation tool: letters written between Mozart and the members of his family - that leave this piece of work in an aura of love and devotion. These same letters confirm that Constance did live to sing the work at its premiere and assume that the first performance of the mass took place at the St. Peter’s Church, Salzburg, as the Salzburg Cathedral in the eighteen century would not allow women to partake in the musical performances of church worship - which speak to the state of the times and how radical Mozart’s rituals and compositions were at this time.

Included with this event is the artwork I’d rather idealise romantic acts of care, then grieve the loves I have lost to compassion fatigue, 2021, which is a list of questions and instructions the audience is invited to engage in during and after the performance.

The ‘Great Mass in C Minor, K. 427’ score has been played and performed innumerous times throughout history, each uniquely. It has remained latently archived for over two centuries, a suitable illustration of the performativity of archives and how they persist. In the context of The Archive Show at E-WERK Luckenwalde, a project that itself stems from the institution’s century old collection of records, Lauryn Youden’s performance proposes a very intimate encounter, a new score to be re-performed, as well as an enactment of a new intricate collective composition.

Lauryn Youden is a performance and installation artist and poet based in Berlin, Germany. Her practice derives from her research and navigation of modern Western medicine, the medical-industrial complex, ‘alternative’ healing practices and traditional medicine for the treatment of her chronic Illnesses and invisible disabilities. By publicly presenting her personal experiences and re-evaluations of the history of medicine through a feminist, Crip queer lens, her work illuminates and advocates for repressed, marginalized and forgotten practices of care and knowledge.

In 2016, Youden was awarded the Berlin Art Prize. She has since been awarded artist-in-residences at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (DE) in 2020 and has upcoming residencies at Rupert, Vilnius (LT) and Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge (UK) in 2021. She has performed and exhibited internationally at institutions including (selection): Shedhalle, Zurich (CH), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (NL), Frye Art Museum, Seattle (US), Volksbühne, Berlin (DE), Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart (DE) and recently exhibited at Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau (CH) as part of the exhibition Kosmos Emma Kunz: Eine Visionärin im Dialog mit zeitgenössischer Kunst.

The performance by Lauryn Youden is part of the culture program related to Canada’s Guest of Honour presentation at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2020/21 and is supported by the Embassy of Canada, Berlin.

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Lauryn Youden, Grüner Salon, Volksbühne, 2020. Image courtesy of the artist.