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celia renée meissner

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the altar |

where am I? 2024 |

the altar

My walk-in installation for the group exhibition“Marriage Stories” consists of two objects facing each other: A pew and a light altar. The light altar consists of a wooden box with a luminous front, which is covered by a centrally positioned white wedding dress.

With my installation I question the idealization of the wedding dress and weddings under the simultaneous influence of church and capitalism.

The bridal gown takes on the role of a saints’ depiction in classical altarpieces and is presented in a sublime position. It is something desirable and pure, flooded with light as a symbol of the heavenly and good. The altar is accompanied by the old pew. Viewers sit on it and perhaps dream of standing in front of the altar in a white dress. The pew enforces a certain direction of view, as a symbol of the enormous influence by the Christian church on what counts as worthwhile ambitions in life.

Young women in particular still often grow up believing a white wedding is a prerequisite for a “successful” social life. Often unrecognized, this still has oppressive characteristics such as the symbolism of the white wedding dress representing virginity, which was and is expected of women in certain cultural areas. An unmarried woman is only considered valuable as a virgin.

For me, there is also the huge influence of social media symbolized by the altar, which leads to an extremely booming “wedding” business. It is a digital competition between “influencers” who generate and direct the desires of real people, driven by a seemingly toxic combination of church and capitalism.

This project is based on my recent personal experience as the maid of honor of a close friend of mine. It was an equally exhausting and bewildering experience, and the most dominating thought in retrospect is: I do not identify with the “bride in white” role model.



The work was part of the "Marriage Stories" exhibition at Campo&Campo gallery in Antwerp, Belgium.

2023