NGBK Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst

The Urban Cultures of Global Prayers

12 Nov 2011 - 08 Jan 2012

Collage: Katja Reichard
The Urban Cultures of Global Prayers
18 November 2011 - 8 January 2012

In Lagos, the largest Pentecostal church provides room for five times as many believers as the world’s biggest soccer stadium; a very own City of God is emerging on the outskirts of the metropolis. In Beirut, Islamist organizations are taking charge of rebuilding the quarters destroyed in the war and control the provision of housing. In Rio de Janeiro, movie theaters are converted into churches, while in Mumbai public spaces temporarily become stages for religious spectacles. Religious communities demonstrate their presence and occupy urban spaces via loudspeakers and posters, in motorcycle conveys or processions, through their own television stations or in cemeteries.

New religious movements are playing an increasingly important role in cities. They are transforming the urban topography, appearing as economic as well as political players, and not seldom replacing the role of the state—across all regions and religions of the world. At the same time, urban cultures are being permeated by new religious practices such as Islamic hip-hop or Christian Nollywood movies.

Gilles Aubry (CH), Sabine Bitter / Helmut Weber (AT), Lía Dansker (AR), Aryo Danusiri (ID), Katja Eydel (D), Frida Hartz (MX), Magdalena Kallenberger / Dorothea Nold (D), Verónica Mastrosimone (AR), Rika Collective (KE), Sandra Schäfer (D), Surabhi Sharma (IN), Sevgi Ortaç (TR), Jens Wenkel / Lagos Film Workshop (NG), Paola Yacoub (LB)

The international art exhibition the Urban Cultures of Global Prayers offers a differentiated view of the interrelations between urban development and sacred practices, between promises of spiritual redemption and social liberation. Beyond ideological debates on the “regained strength of religiosity,” it becomes evident in the works of the artists from twelve countries that big cities are also always places of religious innovation. The show particularly addresses the cultural and urban practices of globally active new religious movements, allowing viewers to experience the urban settings, strategies, and productions of meaning of religious players and communities in metropolises of the Global South such as Lagos, Mumbai, or Rio de Janeiro—but also in Istanbul and Berlin. The main emphasis of the exhibition is on the visual and media formats of photography, video installation, and soundscape.

Following the presentation at the NGBK, the show will be on view at Camera Austria in Graz (January 27 through March 31, 2012).

The exhibition at the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst takes place in the framework of the transdisciplinary cultural and research project global prayers • redemption and liberation in the city, initiated by metroZones. In close cooperation between artistic and academic researchers, Global Prayers explores how new policies, economies, and cultures of faith function in urban space, which kinds of images and sounds, spaces and practices, religiosity under the strong influence of globalization produces. The project focuses on the question as to how religion generates and transforms urban spaces, but also on how urbanity creates new religiosities. The investigations are dedicated to themes such as the relationships between new urban religious communities, urban planning and statehood, self-organization, mediality, cultures of everyday life, and the localization of transnationally operating players. In the process, scientific, ethnographic, and audiovisual research endeavors are combined with documentary and artistic works newly developed for this purpose.

In Berlin, the exhibition format is complemented by the four-day global prayers theme days at the House of World Cultures (February 23 - 26, 2012), in which discursive (symposiums) and performative (concerts, performances, films) aspects of the project will be at the fore. Moreover, in regular Saloons, the “politics” of knowledge will be discussed.

global prayers is accompanied by a series of publications. The volume Urban Prayers – Neue religiöse Bewegungen in der globalen Stadt (metroZones, Verlag Assoziation A, Berlin/Hamburg 2011) has already been published. On the occasion of the exhibition opening on November 11, a two-language exhibition guide will be available. Currently under preparation is an English publication on the theme of artistic research (metroZones, Berlin 2012). At the end of 2012, a comprehensive documentation volume with the results of the entire project will be published.

metroZones | study group the Urban Cultures of Global Prayers: Jochen Becker, Christian Hanussek, Anne Huffschmid, Nadine Jäger, Stephan Lanz, Oliver Pohlisch, Katja Reichard, Kathrin Wildner

Scenography: ifau - institut für angewandte urbanistik
Graphics: image-shift - büro für gestaltung

An exhibition by NGBK within the framework of global prayers • redemption and liberation in the city
Global Prayers is a project by metroZones – Center for Urban Affairs, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Europa-Universität Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder and a research project at the Forum Transregional Studies - co-produced with Goethe-Institut, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung and Camera Austria, Graz.

Tags: Sabine Bitter / Helmut Weber