In a small room a little further, hands are displayed on a wall. It is the hands of the people who contributed to the church shelter in the Bethel Church at that time and their voices are also heard: “Here and now”, “Here and now”. Someone sent the song en masse Here and now by Nick & Simon, which is also included in the soundtrack and makes a pleasant dissonance with the responsible work.
If you open the top fold, you will find a label sewn into the cloth around the chapel sanctuary of the Bethel Chapel in The Hague, what it was about, what it was for and how long it lasted, and that this tapestry is the first official movable appendix of Bethel Chapel in The Hague. Continuous service The work is called (Continuing Celebration) and Margherita Moscardini gave it this question: “Can sculpture give continuity to the extraordinary time and place created in the Bethel Church in The Hague?” (Adapted from the press release on the show’s website, gmcg.itmy translation.)
The exhibition opened on Sunday March 26, 2023. After Margherita Muscardini’s visit to the Bethel Church and to Steak in The Hague, we have had intense contact in recent months about this sculpture and the underlying ideas. The rite came surprisingly quickly and I asked Theo Hetema, who was the chair of the church’s general council during the church’s refuge in 2018-2019 and with whom I spoke.
It was very special to meet face to face at her work. It is strange to hear her tell the visitors as accurately as possible about the church sanctuary in Bethel Church and how “a masterpiece” it was in her eyes. The statue invites you to touch it, and everyone wants to feel it, to open it. At the same time, this work is inconvenient precisely because it calls into question the possibility of the continuity of this unusual space-time. In my experience, sculpting is such an intense, here-and-now utopia. Necessity and promise, mission and gift, possibility and impossibility – all at the same time.
The gallery thus accommodates an inverted gallery: the work of art reveals itself only when the visitor reveals itself, exhibits itself. Whoever reveals this intricate work reveals the annex of the Bethel Chapel and must therefore be believed, as we ourselves had to believe when we began the continuing celebration. Whoever reveals this work may also remove humanity from all the layers with which we keep the other away from us. Can humanity simply unfold, humanity evolve?
With this work, Moscardini wants to explore the possibility of creating a temporal space for “people who have the right to have rights”, but who cannot exercise this right. Moscardini draws inspiration from the work of the 20th-century refugee and philosopher Hannah Arendt. He analyzed sharply how those who are most in need of so-called universal human rights, cannot rely on them because those rights must first be granted to them. Universal human rights do not appear to be rights that human beings are naturally entitled to because they are human or because we are human.
During the Church’s refuge in Bethel Church, I sometimes compared the constant observance to the expanse with which God in Genesis 1 separates bodies of water. For creation is also separation and distinction. If everything comes together, creation is “formless and void”; Thanks to the extension there can be no separation. Then dry land arises, so that people may live and celebrate the good together.
Ethics has everything to do with creation and discernment: our Earth was created so that people could live well there. In the same way, the liturgy in continuous celebration can be heaven created separation. Thus, thanks to and during this constant celebration, Bethel Church could not only be a safe place for the Tamrazian family, but it could also be a place of promise for all who wanted to build and celebrate this good life.
Can Margherita Moscardini’s sculpture give this safe place a “mobile continuity”? Could opening up this fabric create a space where people are safe? Can this statue turn away the wild and chaotic for the people who desperately need their human rights, but still can’t attract them? Who will open and deploy the first mobile facility for the Bethel Chapel? Where will that happen? here and now?
Dirk Stegmann is the Director of Stek. He served as Coordinator and Spokesperson for the Church of Asylum at Bethel Church from October 2018 to February 2019. More information can be found here: Continuous Service – Gian Marco Cassini Gallery.
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