(Venice) Provocations are the "business" In the context of the Venice Biennale, a bi-annual international art exhibition. For the first time a sacrilege takes place as part of the Biennale. "A mosque has not yet been added to the more than a thousand-year history of Venice," wrote the Venetian daily Il Gazzetino just a few days ago. That was yesterday. Today Venice has its first mosque and indeed this coming November 22, in the framework of the Biennale.
Profanation of a Church as "Art" - Koran Verses, Mihrab and Prayer Rugs
The real challenge, however, is that the mosque was set up in a Catholic church, namely in Santa Maria della Misericordia in Cannaregio district. Although the church is closed to worship, it is still a consecrated place of worship. Now, however, it has been desecrated. That the he Church of "Mercy" falls into these calculations may be a coincidence, but it meets with the so-called "new Mercy", the not uncontroversial keyword of the current pontificate.
In the Church there is everything: the Islamic prayer niche, Arabic panels with Koranic verses, the floor is covered entirely with carpets, including small green prayer rugs facing Mecca. The mihrab, the prayer niche in mosques, was built so that it covers the large crucifix of the church. The new adaptation of the church is to be disturbed by nothing Christian. On the Baroque façade only the inscription "Allah u Akbar" is missing. The original intention was to install it so it is visible far and wide. Ultimately fees were waived because the city administration, as they say, had exerted pressure to omit the words.
Mosque installation as a Contribution by the Icelandic Consulate
And who came up with the "brilliant" idea? The mosque in the church was organized by the Icelandic Consulate at the Biennale. Of course, everything strictly covered under "artistic" creativity and under the panacea "artistic freedom".
With the transformation of the church into a mosque, moreover the Swiss artist, Christoph Büchel, was commissioned by the Lutheran Republic of Iceland. He called his "art concept" The Mosque . According to the official statement the "installation" is to be a "message against Islamophobia." The only question is why the Catholic Church prefers victims of such politically correct "messages". The Icelandic Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Illugi Gunnarsson, explained that the idea to bury a mosque in a church is in order "to stimulate dialogue" - as the Minister - which is "open" in Iceland.
Gunnarsson is representative of the Liberal-Conservative Independence Party, which together with the CDU, CSU (Germany) and the ÖVP (Austria) in the International Democratic Union (IDU), in the European Parliament but seated with the British Conservatives and the German AFD in the Group of European Conservatives and Reformers.
Born in Basel, artist Christoph Büchel has become known mainly through provocations. He is known for "institutional critique", which seems highly unlikely if he accepts government contracts, such as those of the Republic of Iceland. In 2010 Büchel installed "an area for sex culture" in the Vienna Secession. He designed the room in a swingers club. During the day it was visited by museum visitors, and at night a Viennese Swinger Club moved its horizontal activities in the museum.
Mohamed Amin al-Ahdabd, the president of the Islamic community of venice showed himself to be enthusiastic about the Büchel Initiative in Venice. Amin al-Ahdadb realized, probably before anyone else, the importance of the event. "This project surpasses, in effect, a hundred conferences on dialogue between cultures," said the Islamic representative.
A mosque is not ordained like the Catholic Church and therefore not a religious building. It is a meeting place that can be intricately designed more or less. In theory, however, any room is suitable as a mosque. Therefore, the Installation awakened not only the appearance of a mosque, but is for Muslims a mosque, as the zealous prayer activities show.
Patriarchate Protested Against Illegal Use and Profanation of the Church
Although a Catholic church is being utilized for the "dialogue artwork", the responsible Patriarch of Venice, Msgr. Francesco Moraglia was never asked for permission. There is great vexation in the patriarchate. There is talk of "abuse", which is made worse because the Church was not only made available without permission, but was profaned.
Art as a sacrilege? The church has been closed for worship since 1969. However, this does not matter, because the church was never profaned. "The church is closed to worship and is no longer part of the church. It has fallen since 1973 to private ownership," says the Patriarchate in an official statement. Nevertheless, it said in the statement, "each usage deviating from the Christian Catholic cult needs permission by the ecclesiastical authority, regardless of who is currently in possession of the church. This permission was neither requested nor granted."
The church of Santa Maria della Misericordia has been in use since the year 936, but could be even older. The original church was byzantine in design. In the 13th century it was renewed church gothic. Around 1650, the Baroque facade was built. In the church are works of Bernini's pupil, Clemente Moli. During the Napoleonic domination, the church was, like many others, desecrated and left to decay. The second half of the 19th century was followed by renovation work. In1890 the church was rededicated and reopened for worship.
Biennale sat down randomly over patriarchy away
Patriarchy was also know that "was asked in February about asking other churches in the city for this mosque installation. The patriarch, however, refused. "was not even asked for the church of Santa Maria della Misercordia. Since there was no permission, the Biennale director set aside the very decision of the diocese. An "act of arbitrariness", says the Patriarchate. The attitude of the Church is not being respected.
The city administration emphasizes that the speech was only an "exhibition", but not by a church. The Directorate of the Biennale tried to pour water on the fire. The "project" it says "was approved as an artistic installation on condition that it was implemented in a exhibition that is accessible for all".
The Patriarchate accuses the city administration of rank superficiality. Such a matter would have "required greater attention in the test phase" and would " be considered and approved not only by its artistic aspect". The patriarchy also directed its criticism at the Biennale in charge: "The decision to use a church closed for cult, does not resolve this issue, as it is still effectively a sacred site, but this was ignored."
Catholic Organizations are Calling for "Immediate Evacuation" - "The Installation Isn't an Invtation to Dialog but War"
Several Catholic associations and the media have meanwhile demanded the immediate evacuation of the mosque installation and the restoration of the church. "The fact that the art is used as a pretext to justify any ideological profligacy is not news. But the transformation of the church of Santa Maria della Misericordia into a mosque as an artistic expression of the struggle against Islamophobia goes to far. Only an idiot can seriously think that the conversion of a church into a mosque could be understood as an invitation to dialogue. Rather, it is an invitation to war, the conquest and occupation of the churches and at a time when in several countries there rages a brutal war of Muslims against Christians and ever day churches are conquered, repossessed and transformed into mosques," said the chief editor of the Nuova Bussola Quotidiana .
The Patriarchate has raised protest. Not only because the matter is contrary to common sense, but because it is against the law. The patriarch would have to grant his permission. He has not granted this permission. He was not even asked. That's why this installation is as if it 'does not exist'. This is noted but it's not enough. Such a provocation can not be dismissed so that they protested one day, but everything stays the way it is. The symbolism is too strong. The Patriarchate should demand the immediate removal of the installation. No ifs and buts. Should the Biennale defend this disgrace and false message, peaceful resistance should be passed over for active resistance, such as the way the Veilleurs occupy a square and a church, or by holding a silent prayer vigils. Everything left as it is, would be to send a signal of unconditional surrender to Islam, which plays into the hands of the most radical branch of Islam. It doesn't change the matter when th entire thing is packed as "artistic"and "on behalf of the freedom of art" happens, because these do not interest the Islamists in the least.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Nuova Bussola Quotidiana / Chiesa e postconcilio
Image: Nuova Bussola Quotidiana / Chiesa e postconcilio
Trans: Tancred firstname.lastname@example.org