Sunday, 27 November 2011

schwarzer freitag

After a disappointing and rather tiresome shopping foray (though I exaggerate the disappointment and I was feeling the imperative of gift-giving reinforced by a talk-radio psychologist's interview that compared exchanging gifts--from the people first on one’s list to co-workers, postmen, bosses--to the human need for communication), I stopped in a church on the way home. It was nearby and one that we had seen many times before, but always awe-inspiring to marvel at the high Mary Magdalene altar, with its gracefully-turned wooden antennae projecting to the ceiling. Just the suggestion of an impending holiday or sale draws great crowds to shops but the activity never turns uncivil or cut-throat, like the Black Friday sales tradition in the States. I certainly hope that trend never spreads, where one needs to be packing pepper-spray in order to get the best bargains, and I wonder what tacit message that gifts got under those competitive circumstances impart.
For a donation of a euro coin, one can have this whole apse illuminated and meditate on and marvel at the installation. The craftsman Tilman Riemen-schneider (DE/EN) was prolific and has commissions throughout this area. This work pictured from 1490-1492 represents some of his earliest creations and captures the transition from late Gothic to Renaissance style. In his day, as Bรผrgermeister of the city of Wรผrzburg, Riemenschneider sided his own contemporary Occupiers, sympathizing with plight of the peasants during their revolt (Deutscher Bauernkrieg). Tragically, his support ended up costing Riemenschneider every thing, when his former patrons inprisoned and tortured Riemenschneider and other leaders of the movement in Marienburg Fortress in Wรผrzburg, and broke his hands so he was unable to make any more art. Fortuneately, his distinct and beautiful creations are still around and continue to inspire, and mostly in situ and not confined to museums, the major exception being, ironically, the Festung Marienburg which now is a museum with a lot of examples of Riemenschneider’s art.