November 2, 2018
KHG (Katholische Hochschul Gemeinde / Catholic University Community), St. Johannes XXIII church, Cologne, Germany
Audiovisual Performance, 60mins
The KHG, located in Cologne-Sülz, is one of the five colleges of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cologne. This college is a place for all students in Cologne who are interested in spirituality and faith regardless of their subjects, although its basic ides is based on the Catholic faith. It is open to collaborate with various cooperation partners such as music, art, media arts, sport and applied science colleges.
As a Catholic college, they invariably have a church for services. This church was built in the same style as the surrounding buildings, a brutalist architecture made of concrete in the late sixties. Today it is common to use concrete for architecture, but at the time it was avant-garde to use this material as a design tool. The sculptor Josef Rikus was commissioned to build this church in 1964, inspired by the shape of a tree rooted in the cave of the crypt. Sedilia, tabernacle stele, ambo and altar were created by heavy wood, and a wooden sculpture stands in the center of the church as a trunk. The surrounding concrete structure represents the branches of the tree.
For the second performance venue, they chose the John XXIII Church and organized this performance themselves, asking the person in charge of cultural events in the church. Because of this Christian religious place, it was not easy for Navid Razavi to negotiate with them, who does not have a typical Western name, but rather reminded them of a Muslim name. The rift between the church and Navid was not about personal issues or artistic practice, but about the long-term religious conflicts between Christians and Muslims. The prejudice and fear of religious imagery made it at first difficult to proceed to plan the performance on the same level. Why do we have problems about identities and roots, although on the biological level we are basically the same people?
Since the interior architecture of the church is tree-shaped, it was not easy to create an audiovisual performance, as they always do. Thanks to the good improvisation of the artists, they found a solution: they placed the speakers in the middle of the building (stem) and used the roof for projection. The visitors could walk through the installation, but they preferred to lie on the floor.