Founded around 1213 and consecrated in 1306, the Oude Kerk (Old Church) in Amsterdam has undergone many changes to its appearance throughout its existence. Most dramatically, during the iconoclastic fury of 1566, statues were removed or demolished and frescoes were overpainted.
Seeing the Oude Kerk as it appears today, ‘empty’ and devoid of decorations, contemporary Italian artist Giorgio Andreotta Calò (b.1979), accustomed to Catholic church interiors, could hardly believe it was still functioning as a living place of worship. Between 25 May and 23 September 2018, he created an installation alluding to the once-present images in the building. Titled Anastasis (Greek for ‘resurrection’), his work sought to explore what the effect of the return of these lost images (as though ‘from the dead’) would be (Oude Kerk 2018).
Anastasis was a temporary exhibition, in which all of the church windows were covered with red foil, and following which a semi-permanent installation in the Holy Sepulchre chapel replaced the clear window glass with coloured red glass. This chapel once housed a sculpture of the Entombment under its baldachin: a reminder of Christ’s Passion and of the blood shed on the cross. Calò’s red light alludes to this sculpture’s ‘presence’: once physical, now virtual in the eucharistic rituals which continue in the church.
The red light also evokes a photographer’s developing room, in the phase where captured images have not yet appeared on paper. Such images are as ‘in between’ as they are in the Oude Kerk: present and not present at the same time. In fact, during the exhibition period, the church literally functioned as a developing room for photographic prints Calò made of the only surviving pre-Reformation stained-glass window (Oude Kerk 2018).
Proverbs does not refer to particular nations or faith communities. There is a universalism to its use of light as a metaphor for developing wisdom (‘the course of the righteous is like morning light, growing brighter till it is broad day’; v.18).
Though its title draws from Greek Orthodoxy, Anastasis reflects this universalism, as ‘resurrection’ is translated into a more general visual language of light. By changing the light, Calo encouraged visitors of all backgrounds, whatever their particular experiences and quests, to transform their perceptions of what was in front of them (and what was once there but no longer). To see things in a different light.
Oude Kerk. 2018. ‘Giorgio Andreotta Calò–Anastasis’, www.oudekerk.nl, available at https://oudekerk.nl/en/programma/giorgio-andreotta-calo/ [accessed 25 January 2020]
4Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain insight;
2for I give you good precepts:
do not forsake my teaching.
3When I was a son with my father,
tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
4he taught me, and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live;
5do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Get wisdom; get insight.
6Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
7The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.
8Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honor you if you embrace her.
9She will place on your head a fair garland;
she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”
10Hear, my son, and accept my words,
that the years of your life may be many.
11I have taught you the way of wisdom;
I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
12When you walk, your step will not be hampered;
and if you run, you will not stumble.
13Keep hold of instruction, do not let go;
guard her, for she is your life.
14Do not enter the path of the wicked,
and do not walk in the way of evil men.
15Avoid it; do not go on it;
turn away from it and pass on.
16For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
they are robbed of sleep unless they have made some one stumble.
17For they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
18But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
19The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know over what they stumble.
20My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
21Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
22For they are life to him who finds them,
and healing to all his flesh.
23Keep your heart with all vigilance;
for from it flow the springs of life.
24Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
25Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
26Take heed to the path of your feet,
then all your ways will be sure.
27Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.