The fortified faith – church castles in Transylvania
Sometimes a project starts on a detour, so that even its authors seem to be surprised about its origin. Jürgen van Buer’s interest in fortified churches goes back to his youth. At that time an aunt had given him a book about the fortified churches in Transylvania. On a trip to Transylvania he rediscovered the fortified churches as an adult: this time not only in book form, but directly and originally. In Dinkelsbühl, where some of van Buer’s paintings had already been shown in 2014, he finally got to know Josef Balazs. Both decided on a joint project, an exhibition about the fortified churches and an exhibition volume on the subject.
The exhibition, which will be shown from Thursday, 15 November 2018 under the name “The fortified faith – fortified churches in Transylvania” (rum: Credința fortificată – Cetățile bisericești ale sașilor din Transilvania) in the Teutsch-Haus, shows the photographs of Jürgen van Buer from the years 2014, 2015 and 2017. He has photographed 39 church castles. They are exclusively in black and white and offer many exterior views, but also numerous detailed photographs of the cultural heritage that is so characteristic for Transylvania. The design in black and white was deliberately chosen: Thus, the view is increasingly directed towards the arrangements and structures inside and outside the fortified churches. These would lose themselves in a colour version or at least be less accentuated. It was important to the photographer to trace the path of the visitor, who discovered the fortresses bit by bit and opened them up for himself. The pictures are now presented for the first time in a large format of 70 cm x 100 cm.
In February 2018 the exhibition volume was published, which brings together the photographs and five texts about fortified churches. The volume has three parts: The first is entitled “Nach-Spüren” (“Tracing after”), in which Josef Balazs first traces the links between Lower Saxony and Transylvania with his text “Transylvania and the Transylvanian Saxons – a Historical and Geographical Curiosity”; the legend of the rat catcher of Hameln plays an important role here. The second text by Konrad Gündisch describes the historical connections around the church castles from their origins to the end of the Turkish wars. Part 2 of the volume “Nach-Schauen” (“Looking After”) presents the 260 photographs in 12 episodes.
In the third part, “Thinking after”, the reader finds three contributions: Thus, Andreas Kohring explains that the interpretation of photographs always lies with the viewer. Thomas Düllo, finally, takes up the perspective of cultural studies and addresses the spaces of communication and interaction that photographs offer viewers.
“Created for Remembrance” says a quotation of the introductory text of the exhibition volume: Talking about the photographs that tourists, visitors otherwise take in everyday life. With the black-and-white photographs of the fortified church landscape of Transylvania and the accompanying exhibition volume, this unique heritage is remembered in a special way.
The vernissage of the exhibition “The fortified faith – fortified churches in Transylvania” will take place on Thursday, November 15, 2018, at 5 p.m. in the Teutsch-Haus. The exhibition itself will run until 31.03.2019.
Text: Aurelia Brecht