Unternächte

2018–ongoing



“Unternächte” is the term my grandmother and great-grandmother in Bavaria used for the time around the longest night, between Winter Solstice and Epiphany – a time known in other parts of Southern Germany and Austria as “Rauhnächte”. Here, life and death, light and darkness, good and evil meet, and a door opens to the otherworld. This time, where the old has not yet entirely faded, but the new has not fully risen, is seen as a vacuum, both dangerous and cathartic, requiring specific rules to ensure a safe transition from the old chaos into a new order.

During these nights, when magic and divination are said to be the most efficient, the women in my family have practised specific customs to get a glimpse into the new year and to keep the family safe. The legends told in this time still serve as warnings and guidance. The “Unternächte”, marking the renewal of the solar cycle, are a tangible metaphor for life and death, and an opportunity for introspection.

Exploring mortality and generational transition through ideas of ritualism, magic, dreams, and clairvoyance, tied to my female lineage, I want to invent new rituals and expand the myths I grew up with. Local customs, family history, and personal experiences are woven into dreams and fantasy, in an attempt to grasp a full circle.

Mark