This is Galschiot’s biggest project so far. By using the enormous sculpture installation ”Fundamentalism”, he wants to launch a dialog process between the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
This dialogue includes the religions’ believers and practitioners, as well as those who only feel culturally attached to the religions or have prejudices about them.
The three religions are often called “the people of the book” as they all acknowledge Abraham as their joint forefather. So one could say that the disagreements between these religions are some kind of family disputes between “The children of Abraham”.
The FUNDAMENTALISM sculpture
The finished sculpture is built of 8000 cobber books that are stacked to make 14 separate letters, forming the word “FUNDAMENTALISM”. The letters are placed on a circle shaped plinth which has a diameter of 9 meters. The grand size of the sculpture, (it is 4 meters high and made of 14 tons of cobber and steel) gives it a monumental appearance.
The sculptures’ letters are divided between the religions. 4 letters are made of copper Bibles, 4 of copper Qurans and 3 are made of Torahs. In respect of the religions’ Holy Scriptures, the books are modeled by hand in wax. They were never real Torahs, Bibles or Qurans.
On the outside of the circle 14 flat screens are mounted. Around the clock they display the ‘brightest’ quotations from the Torah, Bible and Quran. On the inside of the sculpture 14 flat screens display the religions’ ‘darkest’ quotations.
There is only one entrance to the interior of the installation: a small corridor in the plinth by the letter ‘F’. Above the entrance, a sign says 'Welcome'. One can only exit the installation through the same corridor, but by the way out a sign says 'NO EXIT'.
Pillars of scriptures
As a teaser for the project, Galschiøt has created ’The Pillars of Scriptures’; 10 cobber sculptures, which are exhibited indoor and make basis for starting the dialogue elsewhere. The sculptures are one meter broad and two meters high. They are very beautiful and have a kind of meditative appearance as they recite the quotations endlessly on the screens. These ‘Pillars of Scriptures’ are exhibited separately or as a part of larger exhibitions with the big Fundamentalism-sculpture.
Dialogue, information and breaking down prejudices.
The sculpture is staging all three books - the Torah, Bible and Koran - contains so many beautiful and bright statements that one can build a very beautiful, harmonious and benevolent society on the basis of each individual book. But on the opposite hand, each of them (the Torah, the Bible and the Quran) contains so many inhuman and totalitarian statements that one can build a totalitarian society from each book.
The sculpture functions as a kind of educational project about religions. And it initiates a dialogue that can help to break down a lot of prejudices about each other.
The artist himself has experienced this degradation of prejudices in connection with his work on the sculpture. "I, myself, was very surprised at how hard Christianity is on the female sex. And how relatively gentle the Quran is toward women. I actually thought that it was the opposite" says Jens Galschiøt and continues "It is my impression that it is not the religious scriptures, something is wrong with. It is more of a question of who interprets the books and which position the individual human chooses: the ‘dark’ or the ‘bright’ side of their religion"
Is this an anti-religious project?
About the reason for creating the sculpture installation Galschiøt explains: This project is not anti-religious. I think religion is basically humanity's attempt to understand the meaning of one’s life and existence. Religions are not fundamentally bad for humanity. All of the monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have, at times had positive societal impacts. Especially regarding compassion for the poor and other basic guidelines to promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
But there are, as well, a large number of outdated and insensitive rules, which belong to a surpassed way of life and culture in an inhumane civilization. If one take every part of the religious writings literally and obey their every word, people and society alike risk ending up being insensitive, uncaring and callous.
For me, it is important to create a dialogue on the premises that the books are not essentially the culprits when wrong is done in their names. It is the fundamentalists who use the books without regard for the progress of civilization and without a tolerant, humane attitude towards other people. One can easily read and interpret the books in humane ways if one takes that standpoint. It is equally feasible to defend an inhuman interpretation of the same books. This is the essential point of the art project ‘The Children of Abraham’”.
Use us - help us
The art and dialogue project ‘The Children of Abraham’ is to start a debate through art. Therefore it is necessary that people know about the project and use it as point of departure to discuss how religions influence us, and to increase the knowledge about the religions of others.
Tools: We are developing a lot of new exciting tools, (e.g. our ‘Quiz on Quotes’) in order to share the knowledge about the project and the monotheist religions. Most of these tools can be used completely independent of the fundamentalism-sculpture. They can be used to start exciting debates and conversations. Get the material at our ‘Children of Abraham’-homepage www.fundamentalism.dk
Exhibitions: We are continuously exhibiting the 10 ‘Pillars of Scriptures’ and other activities at schools, art forums, neighborhoods and religious forums. If you are interested you are welcome to write or call.
You must nourish the ideals which you support… Galschiøt has financed the production of the Fundamentalism-sculpture and the 10 ‘Pillars of Scriptures’ by himself. He is running out of money and he has ‘slaughtered the last calf’. Don’t hesitate if you have a good advice or can contact somebody who might help financing this ambitious art– and dialogue project.