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Luther's Thinking Space

Luther's decision of conscience is made tangible here in an auditory, walk-in and spatially encapsulating textual installation, 'Luther's Thinking Space'. 

This walk-in thought construct is a direct experience for the senses, enclosing nevertheless the manifest, actual space within the narrative arc presented here as a reflection of the sheer breadth of thinking that Luther embraced. 

The Thinking Space, drawing: Constanze Illig 
The Thinking Space, drawing: Constanze Illig

Luther may well have been, from time to time, a pawn in the machinations of juxtaposed interests, and his familiar sayings have indeed been used and abused for all manner of causes, but he alone dared to take a stance against the concentrated claim to power by the sceptre and the cloth, and in his 'No!' proclaimed a deafening 'Yes!' for individual freedom of conscience as an inalienable tenet of the modern age.

This constitutive instant of emancipation at the Diet of Worms took place in the chambers of the Bishop's palace, which no longer stands today. It was there that Luther was asked, on 17 April 1521, to recant his writings.


Luther responded: "That I may answer correctly at no peril to my salvation", asking for a period of reflection. He was given time to consider until the next day. This historical moment of conscionability therefore lasted around 24 hours.

Visitors to the former Bishop's palace are given the very personal opportunity to place themselves in Luther's position at this venue of the historical decision. Reflecting these 24 hours, visitors are invited to use 24 places around the park to ponder their own response to the predicament. In doing so, they are given occasion to search their own consciences.

24 loudspeakers with small, but easily recognisable, softly pulsating light sources are spread across the park. Movement sensors detect visitors as soon as they approach, activating loudspeakers that broadcast questions of conscience. There are 24 questions, one for each location. These questions for 'today', which germinated from a moment 500 years in the past, prompt answers of contemporary relevance.

Visitors can use the park to enter a personal decision space. They can meander through the park and listen to one question, or to them all. In deciding to embark on this path, the questions allow visitors to experience a space of contemplation as they range through an actual, physically enclosed counterpart. Invited to ponder the implications of decisions, they move through a realm thought not dissimilar to Luther's own, and inexorably step out into a space that demands action and decisions.