Quasi Hierusalem: symbols and cities


‘The aim of the exhibition is to portray the cultural and symbolic configurations, by means of which many towns and cities, especially in the medieval and early post-medieval periods, displayed the religious awareness that they had of themselves. There is a direct symbolic and dynamic continuity which links the circular form of representations of the cosmos, the analogous topographical plans of Jerusalem and of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the circular layout of Jerusalem the celestial city. The religious awareness of towns and cities has, in fact, been sym-bolically based upon the concept of the cosmic order, of the histo-rical and supremely holy city of Jerusalem, and on the idea of the celestial city. Meaningful religious experience, placed in the context of culture and vitality, have the power to generate signs and symbols which become part of the collective consciousness. Jerusalem scene of the most significant events of Christianity, the death and resurrection of Christ, is the prototype for this process. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, with its circular symmetry, has been taken as a model in many cities, and represents the memory and indication of a sense of religion which has grown to involve the whole urban structure. At the centre of the exhibition, a series of slide projections illustrates the symbolic urban archetype (cosmos – Jerusalem, celestial city), whilst a number of photographs and designs depict the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem; other important cities are represented by additional materials. Rome constructed its own particular image after having been designated the seat of the Roman Catholic Church; Constantinople concentrated its religious consciousness around the Basilica of Saint Sophia, the symbolic figure of the cosmos and of divine wisdom; Moscow, full of churches and monasteries, found full symbolic awareness in its icons. Florence, with Saint Pancras and the rite of the “colombina”, based its symbolic image on the relationship between Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulchre; Bologna, with the church of Saint Stephen, reproduced the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Milan based its urban design on the image of the cosmos, placing itself, with the Cathedral, under the protection of the Blessed Virgin, as did Strasbourg; and Venice, between West and East, expressed its extraordinary sense of religion with the Basilica of Saint Mark, and the Procession of the Cross, which made it the image of Jerusalem and a promise of the celestial city. The exhibition concludes with a series of questions about modern cities; is a sense of religious awareness possible in the contempo-rary metropolis? Can places which recover the religious image of the city still be found or created? Is the religious experience capable now-days of providing symbols which can express a religious awareness which involves the whole city? The aim of the exhibition is to open a discussion on these questions, both at the ‘Meeting’ and in the cities which it will later visit.’


20 Agosto 1988 - 27 Agosto 1988


Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions