《What happened to god》 Halle14, Leipzig
3. März bis 1. April 2012
HALLE 14, Zentrum für zeitgenössische Kunst


Artist: Julia Benkert, Peter Beste, Marc Bijl, BORIS+NATASCHA, Chan Sook Choi, Boris Eldagsen, GODzilla-Productions, Christian Jankowski, Helmut & Johanna Kandl, Cristina Lucas, Rory Macbeth, Txema Novelo, Nii Obodai, Dan Perjovschi, Per Teljer

Whether we believe in a god or not, whether we identify ourselves as theists, atheists or even anti-theists, our world is profoundly influenced by concepts of god and the divine. The image of the divine, the absolute and the human pursuit to bring oneself in harmony with a ”higher power,“ condensing these things into an image of a transcendent, benevolent creator, using these things to find protection, solace and happiness through collective worship, but also to maintain relationships of power, are as old as humanity itself. Why doesn’t such a higher consciousness prevent or relieve suffering and misfortune in the world? This central, critical question that has occupied believer and non-believer alike since the beginning of religion finds its culmination (so far) in the formulation that it is God who allowed Auschwitz to happen.

The urgent issues of the 21st century – religious and ethnic conflict, terrorism, the struggle over natural resources (and the associated poverty and famine), globalization and the lack of rational solutions to save the world – on the one hand, appear to correspond to a heightened religious awakening, to a growing commitment to other religious cultures, to a partially fanatical, radicalized adherence to faith and religiousness. On the other hand, renunciation of the church, lack of belief and misuse of belief are no rarity. People lose their faith, dedicate themselves to other forms of spirituality and search for new meaning in their lives that seems worth holding onto. It seems that the person without belief is not truly human.

Nevertheless religion becomes ”the sigh of the oppressed creature,“ ”the heart of a heartless world,“ ”the soul of soulless conditions“ and ”the opium of the people“ (Karl Marx), and one can reach a higher level of humanness through completely stripping away western Christianity with a ”transvaluation of all values“ (Friedrich Nietzsche), by criticizing it just as the culture of belief itself is contested by numerous scientists, historians, psychologists and ethnologists – those who in past decades rejected any form of religion, irrationalism, superstition or pseudo-science and lobbied instead for a world that is dominated by rationality and intellect in lieu of irrationality and religious hatred. Those who count themselves among the faithful: what have they found? And those who look for something new: what do they aspire to? Does a shared vision of a utopic Paradise on Earth unite them? Do they share a common dilemma of the untraceableness of this place, while they search for their salvation in different vanishing points? What does God offer them? What has happened to God in a world in which the disillusioned abandon him, others know only to defend him with violence, and yet others turn away in anguish and horror, and consume, but still disregard, the images of religiously motivated violence that have become commonplace?

To be an artist, to live out a commitment to art, does this not also mean to be a practicing believer, a monk, to operate with the goal of giving new meaning to one’s own life and those of others? Does art know the answer to the question: What Happened to God? In this exhibition fifteen artists are tracing the fascination and contradictions of faith and religion and their earthly and heavenly manifestations.