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EXHIBITION PROJECT


FORMER SYNAGOGUE GLOCKENGASSE
for the Jewish Cultural Festival of Rheinland

STAGES of COLOGNE, OPERA



In my work, I examine and compare the signs used in abstract communication systems. These come from areas such as history, ethnology, writing system research, religion or the natural sciences and cover a period dating from prehistoric rock drawings up to modern-day electronically data processing. It is the graphical qualities of these signs, which is most important for me and not the philosophical content or scientific significance.

There is hardly another German city with such long associations with Jewish history as Cologne. Even in Roman times, a Jewish community is mentioned here in a decree of the Emperor Constantine from the year 321. Since that time, a Jewish community has again and again been accepted in Cologne or driven away, its synagogue rebuilt and again destroyed. Only from 1798 was it possible for Jewish citizens to settle permanently in Cologne, after receiving permission from the French administration of the city. The first small synagogue was built in Glockengasse in 1804, on a part of the secularized grounds of the convent of the Order of St. Clarissa. During the following years, due to the large number and the economic importance of the Jewish inhabitants of Cologne, a more appropriate synagogue became necessary. In 1857, at his own expense, Abraham Freiherr von Oppenheim had a big synagogue built by the Cologne Cathedral architect, Ernst Zwirner, covering the entire site of the former convent in Glockengasse. Like the other Cologne synagogues, it was destroyed in "The Night of the Broken Glass". In 1957, the new Cologne Opera House was built on part of the synagogue site in Glockengasse. The foundations of the former sacred building and its ritual bath are preserved under Offenbachplatz. Today only, a bronze plate on the lateral façade of the opera house recalls the former religious significance of this "space" in Glockenspiel.

With my exhibition project "Former Synagogue" in the foyer of the Cologne Opera House during the Jewish festival in the Rhineland, I want to remind people of this religious significance and bring it back to its original location for a limited time. The title of the exhibition is like the first line of the Torah (Genesis Chapter 1, Verse 1) In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth.

 ERSTE ZEILE DER THORA

As described above, with my exhibition project I want to recall the former religious and sacred significance of the "space" in Glockengasse. Due to its different use today, this former significance has almost completely vanished from our consciousness. By choosing the sacred Hebrew letters and their colours, this significance returns to this "space" for a limited time. The letters and the colour are part of the Torah and the Tallit; they are signs of religious thought and ritual activities, which were once present in this "space".

Johannes Senf                                                                                                                                                                                         Cologne 2002

                                                                                                                     translation from German by the translation office Denzig Cologne
HEBRÄISCHE QUADRATSCHRIFT
HEBREW SQUARE SCRIPT
1996; Kremepigments, acrylic, Archespaper; 22 parts, each 27 3/4in.

AUSTELLUNG BÜHNEN DER STADT KÖLN, OPER
NACH OBEN