Yesterday i visited the Dorotheenstädtische Friedhof in the Chausseestraße1. Besides the graves of famous people like Bertolt Brecht, Borsig, Hegel or Christa Wolf, the graveyard has an interesting chapel. It was built from 1927 to 1928, was destroyed in the Second World War and reconstructed during the GDR based on the testimonies of contemporary witnesses. In 2013, the chapel was renovated and an opportunity was taken to contact the light artist James Turrell; one of the key artist of the Light and Space Movement.2 Together with the Berlin based architect bureau Nedelykov Moreira3, the inner walls were newly arranged to support the vision of James Turrell, who works location based.
Normally the chapel is only used for memorial services but you can visit it with a small guided tour around 30 minutes before dusk. The first part is a short introduction about the cemetery, the chapel, James Turrell and the light installation. The second part is just enjoying the art of the light installation.
Unfortunately, taking pictures inside the chapel it not allowed. I went there almost blindly, wondering what to expect, but i guess my expectations were too high. You really have to be in a certain mood for that and i think the light installation is supposed to work like a sense deprivation tank because you sit there in silent contemplation and let the colors wave over you.4 At first i thought it is a bit pretentious and i anticipated more but when i had my mind swift slowly into a meditative state it kinda works. It was said that the milk glass will shift colors over time which is only due to the colorful after image of the human eye. The effect was not that strong for me, but there were some interesting effects later. The altar and the apse shifting colors over time and it was fascinating to see certain colors where i am not sure how they were created because you only saw them when you are in certain angle.
It is an interesting installation, but i guess it really kicks when you are in the mood for a meditative experience.
Pics shot on Polaroid SX-70 and Smartphone
In hindsight, this shouldn’t have suprised me. The Light and Space Movement is about capturing the Sublime. You are supposed to feel the timelessness which is hidden in the ethereal phenomenon of light itself. ↩︎