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metroZones (ed.)

metroZones (ed.)



the Urban Cultures of Global Prayers metroZones 11 / b_books

metroZones 11


Movie theaters being converted into prayer rooms in Rio de Janeiro as well as in Berlin, Christian gospel within Nollywood Cinema, Islamic HipHop in Istanbul, Hindu ceremonies as mass spectacles in Mumbai: What is the inluence of confessions of faith on the spatial organisation of big, highly dynamic metropolises? How do diferent religious movements adopt cities as stages? What kind of meaning do they establish, how do they transform urban cultures and, on the other hand, to which extent are religious movements informed by the urban environment? „Faith is the Place“ ofers a diferentiated view on the connections between urban cultures and religious practices, between the promise of salvation and social liberation. Based on close cooperation between artistic and scientiic researchers „Faith is the Place“ explores how the new policies, economies, and cultures of faith in urban spaces are operating. It also highlights the pictures and sounds, spaces, and practices created by the religious in the light of globalisation. The publication „Faith is the Place“ has emerged out of the traveling exhibition „the Urban Cultures of Global Prayers“, creating knowledge and experiences of religious movements in urban space and generated with the means of artistic research. Within „Faith is the Place“, the contributions presented in the exhibition by artists from eleven countries are complimented with further research results and alternate with essays on city and religion, on art and science. With inputs from von Gilles Aubry, Jochen Becker, Matilde Cassani, Ayşe Çavdar, Lía Dansker, Aryo Danusiri, Amanda Dias, Helmut Draxler, Katja Eydel, Christian Hanussek, Frida Hartz, Gerda Heck, Anne Hufschmid, George Jose, Magdalena Kallenberger/Dorothea Nold, Stephan Lanz, Verónica Mastrosimone, Victor Okhai, Sevgi Ortaç, Rika Collective, Klaus Ronneberger, Laura Roush, Joseph Rustom, Sandra Schäfer, Surabhi Sharma, Helmut Weber/Sabine Biter, Jens Wenkel, Kathrin Wildner, and Paola Yacoub.



Faith is the Place the Urban Cultures of Global Prayers







All the Others, Ourselves





Sacred Interiors in Profane Buildings




Missing the Place






Moving Towards Redemption




All Will Be Well: Religion-Industries JOCHEN BECKER

106 Industrial Light & Magic



124 A Culture of Division 130 Power KATJA EYDEL


140 Treasures Squandered on Heaven? PAOLA YACOUB

154 Saint Dimitri (Civil War) ANNE HUFFSCHMID

164 Another Way of Knowing



Faith is the Place* The Urban Cultures of Global Prayers Staging



The Skinny One


Cheap synth sounds ra/le from the speakers. At a party in one of Rio de Janei-


ro’s favelas, baile funk sets the tone, this mixture of Miami bass and Brazilian


"Don’t Leave Me Unprotected"

rhythms that has long become known as the soundtrack to drug violence and


sexism in the poor quarters of the metropolis at the foot of Sugar Loaf Mountain. But here, the MC does not rap about the bloody death of a gang boss or the bodily


The Enactment of Exile in Migrant Mumbai



Mungiki Camp




208 210


The Laman Encounter




man distributes flyers amidst the hustle and bustle. Are they ads for special



254 254


266 278


The Fold

mobile phone.

The Urban Production of Faith If one follows French social theorist Olivier Roy, the new forms of religiosity currently booming in metropolises around the world are characterised by deterIgnorance” (2010), Roy speaks of the genesis of a new religious purism that can be inserted in any cultural context. In the wake of secularisation and globalisation,


Pentecostal Lifestyle and the Urban Everyday Culture (RIO DE JANEIRO)

healer offering his services. On demand. Reformation for those in the Diaspora, who have strayed from the path of the Lord. Appointments can be arranged by

ritorialisation, deculturalisation and individualisation. In his book, “The Holy


I want to believe

convoy to publicly demonstrate their belief in the prophet.

offers, as is usual here? When reading the sheet, it becomes clear: It is a religious



enjoy the speed, but in honour of Mohammed. They drive through Jakarta in a

of stalls selling fruit and vegetable, cheap clothes and electrical appliances. A


on the set of 1978ff

dozens of small mopeds press ahead into the gaps between cars, lorries and busses. Pedestrians shrink back. Young men, oOen in twos, are si/ing on the two-wheeled



Our Reach Stops where the World Stops

God and the wish to resist all earthly temptations. There is heavy traffic in the streets of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta. All of a sudden

Dalston Market in East London: People, mostly of African descent, jostle in front


Pluie de Feu

assets of his girlfriend; instead, his machinegun rhymes relate the encounter with

vehicles. Every Saturday evening, they step on the gas, not only because they


The Sound of Global Prayers


religions have been forced to understand themselves as autonomous, and abandon specific territories and their respective cultures: “It is the relationship between religion and public life that is changing, for religious revival in the public sphere


no longer takes on the form of cultural visibility but becomes a display of religious



“purity”, or of reconstructed traditions.“ (Roy 2010: 5). But if religious movements



become isolated in so-called ghe/os. To confront this threat, they seek new cultural


dispense with any kind of cultural embedment in society, they are threatened to markers and in doing so quite frequently resort to youth cultures. It is today precisely the cities in which religious movements find their new cultural, political and economic embedment. To become visible and be able to assert

themselves, the “retraditionalisation” of the religious must be expressed in spatially

religious spectacles, spiritual street performances, pop-modern gospel songs, or

bound practices and at least interact with social, political and also cultural set-

the excessive religious media production (see Victor Okhai’s contribution) be read

tings. As general venues of innovation, cities ensure that those religious practices

as a continuation of religious art production? These questions must remain open

that materialise in them are also subject to permanent transformation and must

for the time being. At least the architecture of the palaces of faith appears to

therefore be reinvented time and again. Religion in the city is in a constant field

have receded to the background. In regard to his national headquarters, a leader

of tension between being “polluted” by other religious or non-religious influences

of the Nigerian megachurch Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) says: “We

and a “new purification”. In this manner, the religious becomes hybridized, trans-

are not building churches, we are planting parishes.”

gresses and secularises itself in the metropolises. Adrian Ivakhtiv (2006) speaks of

Particularly in the cities of the Global South, which most of the contributions

a “postmodernisation” of religion that not only intensifies its individualisation, but

deal with, religion has remained in a state of constant flux, engendering hybrid

now also increasingly destabilises the borders between the sacred and the profane. Several contributions in this book address these instable borders between the

religious practices “from below” that do away with fixed orders and outdated 7


hierarchies. Magic and cult are no anachronisms in this context, but refer to his-

two “spheres” and the expanding liminal zones between them.

torical and local rootedness. The examples of the Santa Muerte cult in Mexico

By unfolding in urban space, religious practices become new cultural practices;

City (see the works by Frida Hartz and Lia Dansker, as well as Laura Roush’s

they are focused on here primarily as urban and less as religious cultures. There-

essay) and the Mungiki movement in Nairobi (see the contribution of the Rika

fore, the texts do not deal as much with the practice of religion in the city and the

Collective, Christian Hanussek) in particular show how variably they are created

city as the venue of religious practice, but are instead more concerned with the

and used – in everyday acts and also during mass performances in public space.

intertwining of both dimensions and the resulting diversity of configurations. The

The division between cultural and religious practices, between people’s religion

central question is how religion as a practice of mediation between the notion

and everyday culture, and frequently between politics, economy and religion as

and experience of supernatural forces on the one side and everyday life (cf. Meyer

well, are abolished – not least for the purpose of individual and collective self-

2009) and the city on the other are interwoven as a dynamic ensemble of mate-

assurance and empowerment. But hybrid manifestations of popular spirituality

rial, social and symbolic spaces and constellations that are constantly negotiated

such as Mungiki or Santa Muerte, which cannot be comprehended by juxtaposing

anew: At issue is always also a “making of urban religion” and a “production of

sacred versus secular, are usually denied the character of genuine religiosity in

religious urbanity”.

mainstream discourse. They are oiandedly consigned to historically practised

All positions compiled here show that new forms of urban religion are indeed no

pigeonholes classifying the urban poor in terms of “organised criminality” or the

longer linked to traditional forms of cultural self-understanding, thus confirming

“culture of poverty”, for example, thus invariably reducing their complexity.

Olivier Roy’s propositions. Instead, they interact with present-day social, economic and political practices and scenes in urban space. It turns out that the religious

Religious practices always respond to certain spatial constellations and territo-

expands to all other (supposedly secular) areas of the permanent production of

rialize themselves within them. In the process, religiously motivated strategies

urbanity in such a way that it becomes increasingly difficult “to say where religion

of appropriation or recoding alter urban space and everyday life. Similar to the

stops and where it begins” (Meyer 2009: 21).

today much-cited “creative avant-gardes”, religious movements and communities


world – in accessible industrial areas or vacant inner-city buildings, in former or

temporarily or permanently appropriate spaces everywhere in the cities of the In an urban context, “culture” is oOen understood as social and ethnic diversity

still operating cinema houses. On Broadway in New York, the Manha/an Masjid

and, in the sense of “multi-culture”, either celebrated or dismissed. What we mean

Mosque uses the spaces of a multifunctional gym basement on an hourly basis.

by “urban cultures” beyond an ethnically defined concept of culture, however, is

Aryo Danusiri’s work shows that even before the last believers put on their shoes

urban everyday life and the production of public space, on the one hand, and cul-

again, a Chinese table tennis club starts with their matches. Using the example

tural productions in urban-religious space, on the other. Moreover, “urban cultures”

of various religions of immigrants in Barcelona, Matilde Cassani describes the

refer to the artistic practices of exploring these urban-religious cultural complexes.

appropriation of profane spaces and how they are religiously coded. Whether

The question must now be raised to what extent “cults” can be perceived as

this takes place anonymously behind closed doors with codes understood only

“cultures”, “culture” or “art” in the first place, that is, as rituals, everyday culture

by the initiated or ostentatiously with advertisement on the facade, flyers, wall

or also aesthetic practices. Does art in the current religious spectrum still play a

paintings, and graffiti, depends not least on the social and legal recognition that

role that is as significant as commissioned art in clerical-feudal times? And, can

the religious diaspora communities enjoy in their respective “arrival cities”.

Not only the process of materially converting specific venues interacts with the

migrants and their spatial niches or struggles to assert themselves, as the contri-

urban context of the respective city, but also the process of believers converting

bution of Magdalena Kallenberger and Dorothea Nold reveals. With the “creative

from one religion to the other, or professing to a religious community for the

classes,” religiosity has now reached those milieus that in public discourse repre-

first time. In an evermore dynamic and globalised market of faiths, there is above

sent Berlin’s celebrated metropolitan urbanity, se/ling in spaces that are highly

all one thing that can be observed in all new religious movements competing

charged with youthful and subculture capital – the club scene, an arthouse cinema

with each other: nowadays, conversion takes place foremost as an individual act.

or a co-working space. In these cases, it is less the minimal interventions in the

Based on the example of a favela in Rio de Janeiro, Stephan Lanz’s text reveals

actual secular rooms – light, sound, religious symbols, spatial arrangements – that

that the motivation and the course of conversion – which is oOen experienced

lend them a sacred atmosphere than the spirit of the religious communitas

less as a quasi heroic act than as a multiply broken, painful process – cannot be

conveyed and experienced in community rituals, gospel music or the discourse

understood if they are separated from their geographical and social environment. It is the everyday culture of the favela, whose urban se/ing is today characterised by structures of violence and the drug complex and the accordant burdens,

of professing one’s faith. 9


The urban design and lifestyles of the Islamic gated community complex Bașakșehir in Istanbul, which Sevgi Ortac’s contribution explores, can be read

options and social experiences, that seems to shape the path of religious reforma-

in a complementary way. On a global scale, they also belong to the most mod-

tion and the character of the local revivalist churches more than anything else.

ern representations of late-capitalist urbanity – in this case, however, in its

Most Pentecostal parishes in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, or in the poor districts of

consumer-oriented, technocratic and modernist form. Bașakșehir was built by

other Latin American or African metropolises, have li/le in common with the

the Islamist city council as a model se/lement for a new religious middle class

megachurches that usually represent the public image of these churches. The

and must be understood against the backdrop of the transformations that urban

innumerable small Pentecostal churches instead reflect the precariousness and

Islamism has undergone in the past two decades: While its grassroots were ini-

informality of the local everyday culture.

tially in the gecekondus, the informal poor se/lements of Anatolian migrants, it is today a political-religious force sustained by the devout middle classes and

Public streets and squares are likewise popular places of representing religious

predominantly representing their interests. This post-Islamist urban milieu

communities; there in particular they leave their marks in urban space and every-

distinguishes itself from both the restrictions of a traditional religious culture

day life. New signs of religious representation can be found in layers on walls,

and the allegedly miserable conditions of the informal city, which the discussion

streetlamps and pavements – and these surfaces are highly contested. In Rio,

between Ortac and author Ayse Kara makes clear. Rather, they compete with

the Pentecostal churches known for their intolerance scratch up the posters of

secular urban groups for a greater degree of modernity and cultivate an individu-

Afro-Brazilian religious communities. In Lagos, the numerous prayer camps try

alistic and consumer-oriented lifestyle.

to outdo each other with billboards and entrance portals visible from a distance. In addition, streets and squares are temporarily sacralised by indeed competing

The fact that massive religious movements can significantly transform cities on

religious sounds that pour out of mosques, churches or residential buildings in

the level of the material production of space is shown in another example, to

the form of prayer songs or gospel pop (see the contribution by Kathrin Wildner), or

which two contributions are dedicated. The RCCG, the largest Pentecostal con-

by the “crusades” of Pentecostal parishes that blend religious rituals and events

gregation in Lagos, succeeded in erecting a huge “Prayer Camp” before the gates

such as sermons, prayers and pop concerts.

of the city, with an arena for several hundred thousand believers possessing the

The Hindu Chha/ festival in Mumbai, which Surabhi Sharma’s contribution

aura of an endless aircraO hangar rather than that of a conventional church. This

stages, shows how religious and political mobilisation can merge. In the past

religious new town built as a gated community for well-to-do RCCG members, the

years, the socially marginalised community of North Indian immigrants, which

subject of Jens Wenkel’s as well as Sabine Bi/er’s and Helmut Weber’s contribu-

Hindu nationalists hostilely deem alien, transformed this religious ritual – origi-

tion, can be read as a novel urban prototype of a “City of God”. The church, acting

nally celebrated more in a private frame than in public – to a religious-political

as urban developer, developed this self-sufficient religious se/lement explicitly

mega-event resembling a Bollywood production. Organised on Juhu Beach, one

modelled on Vatican City as a divine alternative to the megacity defamed as a

of the most glamorous and symbolically charged secular locations of the city, the

den of iniquity. It meanwhile has its own schools, hospitals, banks, a university,

North Indian immigrants use the festivity to claim their right to the city.

and paramilitary security forces. At the same time, the RCCG camp serves other,

Even in Berlin, a city which sociologist Peter Berger once called the world capital

less powerful Pentecostal churches as a model for erecting their own cities of

of atheism, religious dynamism is no longer limited to the diaspora religions of

God. The Lagos-Ibadan Highway is already lined with various prayer camps, thus

reminiscent of a religious version of the Las Vegas Strip. Following Asonzeh Ukah

It would religiously bias the understanding of art to consider it exclusively as

(2011), Bi/er and Weber interpret the way in which the most powerful revivalist

a space of sensory, spiritual or aural experience. Many contemporary artists

churches in Lagos, and also in Rio de Janeiro, mass produce the “city” and have

work in a research-based fashion, they conduct interviews, produce mappings

simultaneously become the gravediggers and heirs of the fallen urban cultural

and observe events with the camera in a participatory way, they document and

industries of modernism – the old cinema palaces – as a religious industry.

deconstruct, reflect on visual politics and representation strategies – all highly

Approaching Urban Religious Culture and Spatiality

critical artistic modes of working in post-war modernism.

We believe and claim that urban cultures of religious actors can only be explored

It would amount to an equally constricted understanding of cultural studies and

in a transdisciplinary manner. This implies an understanding of transdisciplinar-

social sciences to generally dispute their capacity, aOer all their turns (not least

rational methods that have evolved under the sign of conceptual and institution-

ity that does not stop at the borders of academic disciplines – for instance, urban anthropology or urban sociology, architecture or urbanism – but includes new

inspired by art practices and art studies), to generate knowledge, experiences and 11


insights beyond purely text-based discourses and systematic considerations. This

paths of research. In the exhibition, “the Urban Cultures of Global Prayers”, and

applies not only to the field of religion, by the way, but to social phenomena in

this book, art is at the centre of the explorations and the “generation of knowledge”.

general. Research practices have long emerged, albeit mostly at the academic

But what does it mean to pursue urban research with the means of art and to

fringes, a/empting to avoid the trap of objectivity and the obligation to verify

understand art as an epistemic practice (cf. Bippus 2009)? And what does it mean

inherent to institutionalised sciences. They operate with images, spaces and

to (artistically) explore religiously motivated practices in the first place? Also,

sounds, explicate subjectivities, test new narrations – and oOen cooperate with

does “the religious” not necessarily remain a kind of blind spot or black box when

artists. Alongside systematically sounding things out, what plays a pivotal role,

perceived “from the city”?

like in art, is intuition, oOen the decisive factor in determining where research

First, one must discard the notion that seems to suggest itself, namely, that

starts and what it dwells on.

image-producing art automatically comes closer to the aura or spirituality of the

The dichotomy between art and research – which have constituted themselves in

religious than any scientific research. This notion is based on the idea of art as an

strong dependency upon each other as “divided cultures” (see Helmut Draxler’s essay)

already quasi-spiritual, pre-discursively configured sphere rooted in the senses

– has long lost its hegemony, the boundaries have become blurred and permeable, and

that can be situated in a structural analogy to religion, so to speak. This analogy,

the most interesting things tend to occur in the border regions and interstices. This

which would then be placed in opposition to a hyper-rational science, is based

is the area in which the Global Prayers project and this publication are located.

on an essentialist understanding of art that disregards the complex historical relationship between the fields of art and religion.

But art does not approach its subject ma/er in the form of research from the


For what supplements the various methods of exploration (which can indeed

same side as even qualitatively and self-reflectively “turned” scientific research. As a look at the history of art and churches reveals, what is at work when build-

resemble each other) are the more art-related dimensions such as experiment

ing places of worship is not only an art intent on arousing emotions and spiritual

and intervention, but above all aesthetic questioning and aesthetically reflected

overwhelmingness, but also a religious aesthetics of rationality. Beside Counter-

staging, the specific (spatial and temporal) features of experienceable works.

Reformation “propaganda painting”, the Baroque architecture of a Francesco Bor-

Artistic methods offer the possibility of observing and showing, while (as yet)

romini emerged that dispensed with any kind of embellishment – empty, white

not enunciating – a knowledge, mode of thought and analytical potential not nec-

and grey, a “pure structure”, as it were. The notion of the modern Western art

essarily mediated through texts and discourses. The materiality, mediality and

world having become secularised – several centuries aOer its dependence on com-

performance of semiotic processes can be reflected upon (see the contribution by

missions by the clergy – to such an extent that religion is merely treated as a relict

Anne Huffschmid). Hence, art manoeuvres more along the edges and ruptures of

of past times or relatively remote cultures, does not go far enough. Especially in

fields of knowledge, in zones of uncertainty, ambiguity and non-linearity, all the

recent years, faith and spirituality have been recurring motifs of art exhibitions.

way to non-knowledge and invisibility. Its basic material is ambivalence.

And even if the new urban religions do not appear productive in artistic terms,

Therefore, art is not the other of discourse, or the sciences, yet it enables differ-

they have indeed liberated themselves, at least partially, from traditional icono-

ent, expanded accesses and approaches to the subject ma/er of new religious

graphies and developed new, culturally hybrid, medially and globally enriched

movements and phenomena in urban space. As is argued here, this does not

picture languages and practices.

automatically expose the spiritual core of these movements, but it does reveal

the complex interlacing of interior and exterior spaces, of media and bodies,

At a panel in February 2012, documentary filmmaker and anthropologist Filip de

motifs and discourses.

Boeck mentioned “empathy” as a crucial factor for researching a religion. 1. One

The space itself – here: the exhibition space – becomes the object of artistic

can sense such an empathetic a/itude in the artists especially when they delve

design. In a dialogue with the team of curators, the scenographers of the Institut

into stigmatised or even criminalised religions, as is the case with the Rika Collec-

für angewandte Urbanistik (ifau) developed a spatial concept for the show, “the

tive from Nairobi that addresses the ostracised Mungiki movement, or Lía Dansker

Urban Cultures of Global Prayers”, that addresses the pair of opposites of glaring

and Frida Hartz who deal with the denounced Santa Muerte devotees in Mexico

white artificial light and the darkness of night (cf. Jochen Becker’s contribution)

City. The artists seek to counter the widespread negative image of these groups

and the accordant metaphors of light, as well as the standard museographical

and for this reason try to understand them based on their own logic. The Rika

spaces, white cube and black box. In the succession of artificially illuminated and

Collective goes as far simulating a fictive representation of Mungiki. Dansker

dark spaces, these questions related to the (artistic) staging of religiously charged

considers the Santa Muerte devotees themselves as a sort of artists’ collective

space are shiOed into each other.



working on the saint and her image, and – as the title, “I want to believe”, also reveals – would like to take part. In her photographic search for the legacy of

Artistic Practices Approaching Religious Urban Practices

the activities of liberation theology among the poor in Buenos Aires, Verónica

There are historical references to the artistic research approaches to the city and

Mastrosimone is also concerned with establishing closeness, visualising what has

religion compiled in this publication. Photographer and urban sociologist Camilo

so far barely been elucidated. Artists Kallenberger and Nold, in turn, approach the

José Vergara, for instance, expanded his photographic work by sociological methods

young Christian groups in Berlin, with whom they already maintain a close rela-

to systematically document urban changes in the poor quarters of US-American

tionship, with deliberately distanced and fixed camera angles; the services, the high

metropolises. He supplemented his oOen long-term picture studies with inter-

points of the gatherings of young Christians, are not included in the artists’ videos.

views and texts of his own, thus achieving a complex and dense description of the phenomena. In the documentation, “How the other Half Worships”, published

Fascination and mixed feelings appear to fuel those artistic positions that

in 2005, Vergara examines the churches, religious practices and social networks

a/empt to convey the power of collective, spiritual experience: in his sound

of the American urban poor. He is interested in both the architecture and urban

installation, “Pluie de Feu”, Gilles Aubry mixes recordings of a service during

embedment of religious communities and in their inner workings – thus providing

an evangelisation campaign of the Pentecostal Libambu Ministry in Kinshasa

a direct link for the Global Prayers project.

with soundtracks of local video productions, and Jens Wenkel leads us through a redemption session of the RCCG in Lagos in a long tracking shot. Both artists

In a systematic approach reminiscent of the works of Bernd and Hilla Becher,

add recordings of discussions on location to these emotionally charged scenes:

British photographer David Spero documented the spaces of charismatic congre-

Wenkel talked with documentary filmmakers about their relationship to religion,

gations in London over a period of two years. He focuses communities beyond

and Aubry with prospective pastors about proselytization based on a photograph

the British official church that hold their services in former warehouses or work-

taken during colonial times.

shops in the city’s de-industrialised zones; hidden sites where one would assume many things, but not spirituality. In his search for objectivity, Spero withdraws

Many artists use documentary material and methods, yet in doing so they strive

his own person until he all but disappears; the photos are sober recordings of

for more than simply reproducing the imagery of the new urban religious

urban moments that hint at the energy of the spatial self-organisation and self-

movements. For them the issue is to challenge the image production of reli-

presentation of these new spiritual communities.

gious communities, like for instance Paola Yacoub, whose photos reveal voids and depict places whose special meanings are not conveyed on the surface. Her

Similar to the perspectives of Vergara or Spero, those of the artists participating

pictures of a Beirut cemetery do not indicate that under the paths between the

in “the Urban Cultures of Global Prayers” also remain external in the sense that

graves there are mass graves from the times of the Lebanese civil wars. The

they rarely shed light on the examined religious groups from the inside, from the

actual content thus remains invisible, and viewers ask themselves, what they

perspective of their members. It is therefore the respective aesthetic strategy and practice that essentially determine in which way the artists deal with the religious phenomena. Depending on the relationship between artist and religious community, one can discern in the works variegated strategies of access.

1 In the framework of Global Prayers – Redemption and Liberation in the City – Theme Days at the Berlin House of World Cultures from February 23 to 26, 2012, a three-day event with lectures, photography, discussions, sounds, and films.

actually see. In her essayistic video installation, Sandra Schäfer approaches the

things, the international workshops in Berlin (2009 and 2010), Lagos (2010) and

relationship between political and religious movements during the Iranian

Beirut (2011).

Revolution in 1979 mostly by commenting pictures produced at the time and the

Based on this continuous debate with researchers and artists, we, as a team of

meanings they had in interviews with filmmakers and photographers.

curators, developed a kind of conceptual grid representing a discursive parallel structure. AOer a long filtering process, the keywords “power”, “enterprise”,

Other positions approach the new urban religious communities from a distanced

“staging”, “communitas”, “rupture”, and “trans/mission” emerged. They are by no

and primarily analytical perspective, concentrating on the structures or architec-

means to be understood as closed discourses but as providing headings for poly-

tures produced by the religious actors or institutions. Sabine Bi/er and Helmut

valent conceptual fields that can be of varying importance to the questions and

Weber, for example, explore the spaces of Pentecostal churches in Lagos and Rio

phenomena addressed here. As a curatorial position, this grid with its semantic

against a foil of cultural theories and concepts. In their “figures” they arrange

clouds contextualises less the individual positions than the field created by the

photos of predominantly church interiors and other buildings to theme clusters. Their forms then again capture ornamental pa/erns of historical mass choreog-



artistic works, linking it to conceptual fields, referring to discursive interfaces and overlappings, and offering – without defining any kind of linear structure –

raphies, thus allowing a reference to Siegfried Kracauer’s aesthetic reflex in the

suggestions in regard to reading and connecting the individual works.

Mass Ornament. Katja Eydel collected photographs from Internet catalogues for

In their ambiguity, they are localised in a field of semiotic tension that integrates

Christian religious garments. S he detached them from this context and arranged

the complexity of the artistic approaches. For example, the concept of staging

them first according to classifications specified in an Excel table. The resulting

refers not only to the performative elements of religious urban cultures, different

coordinate system formed the grid by which the pictures were then mounted on

forms of temporarily appropriating public spaces, or political manifestations in

the wall. Through the detour of a “scientific” method she produces an alienation,

urban arenas, but simultaneously – in a more metaphorical sense – to appearing

which renders the pictures of the exhibition as familiar or exotic, depending of

and disappearing, to zones of visibility and invisibility. Or the conceptual field

the viewer’s perspective. The garments, looking and feeling at once antiquated

of “enterprise”, which includes, on the one hand, the understanding of faith as an

and contemporary, become symbols of a certain body image and its adjustments.

entrepreneurial resource generating and catering to a competitive market and,

The fact that the bodies of those, who have worn these garments for generations,

on the other, forms and issues of governance, discipline and self-disciplining,

are absent in the photos makes them eerily present.

which in turn lead to the production of ethics and morality. This tension becomes perhaps most evident in the conceptual field of power, where questions related


to the political power of the religious (see Klaus Ronneberger’s contribution) are

The artistic positions presented in this book were worked out in the framework

raised, but also allusions to energy, industrial aesthetics and the – always ambiva-

and with the means of the culture and research project Global Prayers - Redemption

lent – imagery of light and enlightenment.

and Liberation in the City and presented for the first time in the exhibition „the Urban Cultures of Global Prayers“ at the Neue GesellschaO für Bildende Kunst (NGBK) in Berlin Kreuzberg. Global Prayers was initiated by the Berlin-based project office metroZones; the project venues are the Berlin House of World Cultures



and the Viadrina University in Frankfurt an der Oder. It is funded by Forum Transregionale Studien, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and various Goethe Institutes. In field studies conducted in different metropolises, social and cultural theorists as well as artists and cultural producers examine how religious movements transform urbanity and vice versa, how urban space triggers religious innovations and which transnational links result from this. 2 At issue from the very start was to intertwine artistic and scientific research. The space and time available for the exchange among the participating artists and scientists enabled, among others

2 An overview of current works and positions in the research field of new religious movements is provided in the book Urban Prayers edited by metroZones (2011).

* The title of the book, “Faith is the place”, alludes to the title of Sun Ra’s experimental jazz record, Space is the Place (1972), and the eponymous film by John Coney (1974), in which Sun Ra and his “Arkestra” play a central role. The jazz composer recorded hundreds of albums and as a poet and philosopher advocated an Afro-futurist theory of redemption and liberation of African-Americans in outer space.


Bippus, Elke (2009): Kunst des Forschens. Praxis eines ästhetischen Denkens. Zürich: diaphanes. Roy, Olivier (2010): The Holy Ignorance: When Religion and Culture Part Ways. New York: Columbia University Press.


Ivakhiv, Adrian (2006): Towards a „Geography of Religion”: Mapping the Distribution of an Unstable Signifier. In: Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 96.1, pp. 169 – 175. Meyer, Birgit (2009): Introduction: From Imagined Communities to Aesthetic Formations: Religious Mediations, Sensational Forms, and Styles of Binding. In: Meyer, Birgit (ed.): Aesthetic Formations. Media, Religion and the Senses. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1 – 28. Ukah, Asonzeh (2011): Die Welt erobern, um das Himmelreich zu retten – Pfingstkirchen, Prayer Camps und Stadtentwicklung in Lagos. In: metroZones (ed.), Urban Prayers. Neue religiöse Bewegungen in der globalen Stadt. Berlin/Hamburg: Assoziation A, pp. 109 – 130. metroZones (ed.) (2011): Urban Prayers. Neue religiöse Bewegungen in der globalen Stadt. Berlin/ Hamburg: Assoziation A.

metroZones 1

Space // Troubles Jenseits des Guten Regierens: Scha3englobalisierung, Gewaltkonflikte und städtisches Leben Jochen Becker und Stephan Lanz (Hg.) Juni 2003, b_books, Berlin | ISBN 3-93357-51-8

metroZones 2

Learning from * 17


Städte von Welt, Phantasmen der ZivilgesellschaB, informelle Organisation Redaktion: Jochen Becker, Claudia Burbaum, Martin Kaltwaser, Folke Köbbeling, Stephan Lanz, Katja Reichard Herausgeber: Neue GesellschaV für Bildende Kunst Oktober 2003, NGBK Berlin | ISBN 3-926796-86-3 metroZones 3

Hier entsteht Strategien partizipativer Achitektur und räumlicher Aneignung Jesko Fezer und Mathias Heyden (Hg.) August 2004, b_books, Berlin | ISBN 3-933557-52-6

metroZones 4

Self Service City: Istanbul Orhan Esen und Stephan Lanz (Hg.) Januar 2005, b_books, Berlin | ISBN 3-933557-52-6

metroZones 5

City of COOP Ersatzökonomien und städtische Bewegung in Rio de Janeiro und Buenos Aires Stephan Lanz (Hg.) November 2004, b_books, Berlin | ISBN 3-933557-54-2

metroZones 6

Kabul / Teheran 1997 ff FilmlandschaBen, Städte unter Stress und Migration Sandra Schäfer, Jochen Becker, Madeleine Bernstorff (Hg.) Juni 2006, b_books, Berlin | ISBN 3-93357-55-0


metroZones 7


Architektur auf Zeit Baracken, Pavillons, Container Axel Doßmann, Jan Wenzel, Kai Wenzel Juli 2006, b_books, Berlin | ISBN 3-926796-66-6

Faith is the Place the Urban Cultures of Global Prayers EDITED BY: metroZones – Center for Urban Affairs SERIES TITLE: metroZones 11 CONCEPT OF SERIES: Jochen Becker und Stephan Lanz Berlin: b_books, 2012

metroZones 8

Verhandlungssache Mexiko Stadt UmkämpBe Räume, Stadtaneignungen, imaginarios urbanos Anne Becker, Olga Burkert, Anne Doose, Alexander Jachnow, Marianna Poppitz (Hg.) September 2008, b_books, Berlin | ISBN 3-933557-89-6



This book is published on the occasion of the exhibition the Urban Cultures of Global Prayers, Neue GesellschaV für Bildende Kunst, Berlin, November 12th 2011 – January 8th 2012 and Camera Austria, Graz, January 27th – April 1st 2012. 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 Transregionale Studien coproduced with GoetheInstitut, Heinrich-Böll-StiVung and Camera Austria, Graz.

metroZones 9

Funk the City Sounds und städtisches Handeln aus den Peripherien von Rio de Janeiro und Berlin Stephan Lanz, Gese Dorner, Katharina Gaber, Nele Harlan, Nadine Jäger, Sigurd Jennerjahn, Birke Ooo, Swantje Plähn (Hg.) November 2008, b_books, Berlin | ISBN 3-933557-91-9

AG THE URBAN CULTURES OF GLOBAL PRAYERS: Jochen Becker, Christian Hanussek, Anne Huffschmid, Nadine Jäger, Stephan Lanz, Oliver Pohlisch, Katja Reichard, Kathrin Wildner EDITING: Anne Huffschmid, Oliver Pohlisch, Katja Reichard COPYEDITING: Birgit Kolboske DESIGN: / visual communication & other missunderstandings COVER: Collage by Katja Reichard PRINT: agitdruck GmbH, Berlin

metroZones 10

Urban Prayers Neue religiöse Bewegungen in der globalen Stadt metroZones (Hg.) August 2011, Assoziation A, Berlin/Hamburg | ISBN 978-3-935936-78-1

© TEXTS: the authors and translators © IMAGES: the copyright holders © DESIGN: image-shiV This book is published in cooperation with the Heinrich-Böll-StiVung (

metroZones/media 1


Made in “Nollywood” Digitales Kino in Westafrikas Metropolen Julien Enoka Ayemba 2011, b_books, Berlin

metroZones/media 2

stagings Kabul, Film & Production of Representation Sandra Schäfer Oktober 2009, b_books, Berlin

ISBN 978-3-942214-04-9 www.

Metrozones (ed.): Faith Is the Place  

Metrozones (ed.): Faith Is the Place. Published at b_books.