to close in or close down

Exhibited at Greeenhouse studios Petersham, 2022. 

A rumination on the church and institutionalised religious practices in relation to space….

When does my own space feel impeded on by a religious setting?

When do I impede on a religions space?

When do institutions and groups of people oppress?

When do they inspire community?

To close in or close down space.

Each Sunday I used to squeeze into a church pew, my mother insisting we all sat together… The only way to make a fast exit would be to jump out over the top of the pew over other people, to run past the congregation, past the minister talking, and through a back door.

What am I advocating for?

Walking through a back street in north sydney I intruded on a Synagogue on a Saturday. In a space that I was not aware of I became a concern for those present. I question the dozens of photographs that remain on my phone of places of worship all over Europe and Asia. Is it my right to be where I may be in space?

To play the devil’s advocate against the catholic or church of england is perhaps to ignore other religious spaces, does this further perpetrate western centric thought and discourse?

The devil’s advocate resides in the city I grew up in. Mona lights up the town red, my mother frowns at the upside-down crucifixes by the water, people indulge in a night long black mass an antithesis of religious worship a stand against an institution. The advocate is in fact played by David Walsh a man actively perpetrating patriarchal structures whilst building further institutionalised spaces of his own.

My mother gives me a calendar from her church each year. It’s filled with photographs taken by the community. Each month is surmised by a bible verse.  I change gods’ pronouns and write all my deadlines in it.

I went to a quaker school, supportive and open to people from all places and religions, we would sit in silence for an hour once a week. Meditative and calm we were asked to act with integrity.  Ironically the integrity I had as a teenager was not well accepted by the school, brash communication, and lacking the perception of consequences were not considered attributes to the quaker lifestyle.

Around me some spaces welcome me and others I sit uncomfortably in. Le Corbusier suggested units of measurement be based off the ideal height of a French man 6ft/1.83m. A city designed for ideal men, the height of a church, steps, and gutters too giant for those any shorter. Perhaps the space of most things holds influence over the way we move.

To open up…

The falsity that we can exist with or without religion or other institutionalised forms of being is maybe inseparable from my understanding of how one moves through a space.

Can an embodied relationship to a religious space around me ground me in myself, to find myself apart from the mechanisms of power operating around me? Or are these mechanisms inbuilt to me and my environment... inescapable.

The church as an institution has often scared or angered me but in a different circumstance, a different setting, a different religious space perhaps there is an element of wonder, a height and space to explore…

Where does this element of exploration and wonder fit into my critical mindset, and what does criticism lack when exploring the intricacies of people’s relationships to institutions, religions, and spaces.