Welt vor der Schwelle, 2012
film installation, two 16mm films and exhibition architecture

During the first decades following the destructions of World War II in Germany hundreds of churches have been reconstructed or build anew. While the hardship of the immediate post-war years demanded for the construction of those new churches to be extremely economical, the on­set of the Wirtschaftswunder in the middle of the 1950s caused an epochal boom in the build­ing of new church architecture. Seeking after a contemporary form for the sacred it developed an affluence of form previously unknown, expressing not only an altered relationship to the divine but also a new understanding of the role of the faithful and the church in a secular society.

Welt vor der Schwelle (World at the threshold)(1) is an installation that consists of two 16mm films. The first film O.T. (Kirchen), 2012 portrays the interiors of three exceptional churches built in post-war Rhineland: the church Johannes XXIII by Josef Rikus in Co­logne (1968), the Wallfahrtskirche by Gottfried Böhm in Neviges (1966-1968) and the church St. Anna by Rudolf Schwarz in Düren (1951-56). The film recordings of the churches were shot through a 14mm lens. Technically this focal length is supposed to resemble a field of vision most congruent with that of the human eye. A computer generated voice-over recites passages from a publication on guidelines for new church architecture compiled by Otto Bartning and Willy Wyres(2) in the 1950. The passages comment on practical as well as aesthetical questions, such as the use and effect of artificial lighting, the creation of good audibility, or on how size and position of windows will affect the concentration of the faithful.

The shots of the church interiors are structured by short animations based on diagrams found in the book Vom Bau der Kirche (The Church Incarnate)(3)by Rudolf Schwarz, published in 1947. The diagrams illustrate Schwarz’s idea of the religious community as a dynamic process, which goes through different stages in its relationship to god and society at large. Each one of them represents a particular stage of the ongoing transformation of the communal form.

The second film in the installation focuses on the three senses that allow the individual to relate to architectural space, that is optical sight, hearing and tactile sense. O.T. (Language, Truth & Logic), 2012 shows the ears, the eyes and the hands of a young man reading passages from the book Language Truth & Logic(4) by A.J. Ayer from 1936. In this book Ayer promotes the concepts of “Logical Positivism” and introduces his notion of a verification principle as the central tenet of any philosophy. Ayer argues that meaningful assertions are only those verifiable by the senses. He claims that neither the existence nor the non-existence of God can be subject of a philosophical argument, for both assertions “can not be demonstratively proved”.


(1) Rudolf Schwarz, Kirchenbau. Welt vor der Schwelle, Schnell & Steiner, 1960
(2) Weyres, Willy / Bartning, Otto, Kirchen: Handbuch Fur Den Kirchenbau, Verlag Georg D.W. Callwey, 1959
(3) Rudolf Schwarz, Vom Bau der Kirche, Heidelberg, Verlag Lambert Schneider, 1947
(4) A.J. Ayer, Language Truth & Logic, London, Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1936