Fragen stellen. Impulse setzen. Reformation verantworten

The Francke Foundations in the Anniversary of the Reformation 2017

Graphic of the annual exhibition 2017 »Du bist frei. Reformation für Jugendliche«

It rarely happens that the explanation of complex world events can be condensed into a single person. For Martin Luther, this is an obvious choice. With his theses, his writings, his utterances and not least his deeds, he undoubtedly set things in motion that have changed the world. In the run-up to the 500th anniversary of his famous Thesenanschlag, a whole decade of changing annual themes were set in connection with his Reformation impulses. Proclaimed as a Luther Decade, however, the realization matured at an early stage that this was not a Luther jubilee to which we are heading, but rather a remembrance of a comprehensive movement which can be illustrated in the person of Luther, but which reaches far beyond him. The limitation of the Jubilee to the historical person of Martin Luther is seductive in so far as it allows for strong simplifications, also seductive because it makes the Reformation more tangible, gives it a face and a name, a bell shield so to speak, and can be added to the narrative of a highly complex event things that may serve at first glance as an entertaining illustration, but are able to distract from the serious search for the understanding of Reformation events in an unpleasant way.

The realization that the Reformation was not limited to the historical person Martin Luther opens our eyes to the fact that a multitude of people and chains of events played their part in it and that the Reformation is to be understood as a permanent process. As in a relay race, the ideas and impulses of the Reformation were passed on from generation to generation, thus developing and shaping the Reformation process in different ways. Pietism also offers examples of how the ideas of the Reformation were taken up again by contemporaries of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The starting point of the movement was the demand for an inner revival of the Lutheran churches. In order to return to the personal examination of questions of faith and Bible study, conventions were created in which Christians came together, regardless of social status and educational level, in order to read the Bible with one another and to exchange views on it. Nobles, scholars, citizens and craftsmen sat there together, women were welcome. The measure was the Christian disposition of the individual and not his status. In this way, a religiously motivated initiative became a movement that was able to question the social fabric in the twinkling of an eye. The parallels to the beginning of the Reformation are obvious. Pietism took up its emancipatory impulse again and continued it. It was also Halle's Pietism that 200 years after the beginning of the Reformation began to systematically carry Lutheranism beyond the borders of Europe, so that the Great Jubilee of 2017 was perceived and celebrated as a worldwide event.

In order to keep the Reformation alive and not to dismiss it as an event of times long past, we have to take up its basic ideas again today, question them about their relevance in our present and for our current problems and challenges, and derive our own impulses from them. To mark the anniversary of the Reformation, we therefore set ourselves the task of passing on the baton to the next generation. In our theme year we wanted to make the Reformation comprehensible and formable for young people and to invite young people to examine the impulses that began 500 years ago for their relevance today and to let them come to life for themselves. The annual exhibition »Du bist frei« (You Are Free) was the only exhibition in the Reformation jubilee explicitly aimed at young people. It was an experiment, a modern theses. In groups, the young people went through an interactive parcours that transferred the themes of the Reformation, such as fear, community, values and new media, to the present day and invited them to help shape the exhibition itself. The group only found their way out of an escaperoom together; role models and modern virtues could be examined on the hero wall and the Wert-O-Mat, and the Reformer's songs could be mixed with groovy beats on a mixing console. What is important to us? What frightens us? Do we have role models? And what does freedom actually mean to us? The accompanying program to the exhibition also posed such central questions. On Franckeplatz, a special space was created for this: the word cube. It was a workshop, exhibition space and stage all in one. Together with numerous partners from Halle's young scene, workshops, events and activities took place there. The Freiraumgalerie, HaSi - Hafenstraße Sieben, Postkult e.V., the BeatGemeinschaft and many more invited to discuss, design and conquer open spaces. On Museum Night 2017, the KLUB7 artists' collective also reflected on »Du bist frei« on the Museum Night 2017, and used the inspiration for a live performance in the Freylinghausen Hall. Together with the Miramode Orchestra a spectacular work of art made of colour, light and music was created. At the Lindenblütenfest under the motto »From the depths of the Middle Ages into modern times« we took young and old into a late medieval world, which Luther turned upside down with his 95 theses: a world full of soulful hardships and yet ready for new ideas.