Kind, Kleid, Krone (Child Dress Crown)
Design of a gown and a crown for the Enfant of Prague
2012, screen printing on silk (gown)
watercolour and photography (crown)
The church of our Lady of Victory is the oldest Baroque church of Prague that has been serving during the last centuries as a monastery of the Discalced Carmelites. The order takes its roots in the 16th-century Spain, where the main attraction of the church - a statue - comes from. Its wooden core is covered with a fragile (originally coloured) wax; enclosed in an ornate silver case reminding of an altar, the statue, about 50 cm tall, wears a long baroque-styled robe. „Jesulatko“ , the sculptural depiction of an infant Jesus, is the main attraction of the church, serving as its material self-interpretation. It was crafted in Spain and came in 1556 to Bohemia as its owner Dona Maria Manrique de Lara married the Habsburg Ober-Chancellor Vratislav von Pernstejn: the sumptuously dressed doll - her wedding gift - should have soothed the young lady´s life in the inhospitable North. It was only in 1628 that the daughter of by that time deceased Dona Maria donated the statue to the newly-founded Monastery of the Discalced Carmelites in Prague. In 1655 the Bishop of Prague embellished the doll with a crown.
Whereas the crown of Jesulatko is firmly attached to the wall behind him, hovering over the infant Jesus and standing for the eternity of gloria dei, its dress is actually worn and regularly changed.
To be sure, children’s' clothes are changed frequently and irregularly for natural reasons: as naturally as such changes begin, they also cease to happen when the childhood gives way to the adulthood. In contrast, the dress changes of Jesulatko are ritualized rather than practically sensible (with the four main colours of robes corresponding to the liturgical seasons) and take place for several hundred years, involving more than one hundred costumes and turning the child’s living innocence into the Divine eternal perfection.
Some of the costumes kept in the Closter’s museum are incomplete or unusable, and other, being in a perfect shape, are either never worn or taken off his body after a short period of time.
The imaginary identity of the Child is created by the real observers – the nuns, the church visitors and other believers, and the mystification of his subjectivity involves an alternative system of dress perception. Indeed, the spectacle of childhood requiring perpetual dress changes is performed by no one else but childless nuns who sublimate their motherhood in observing the nudity of the fictitious body. This way the robes and mantles of the Child outgrow their pure functionality and inscribe the Child into the sacred history.