Installing ‘Imagining the Divine’ #6: 10th October

Jaś Elsner and Stefanie Lenk are blogging from behind the scenes during the installation of the Ashmolean Museum’s exhibition Imagining the Divine: Art and the Rise of World Religions, opening on October 19th. 

Stefanie Lenk, 10/10/17, installation day 7

Installing this exhibition feels like a fortnight-long Christmas day. Of course, there is the element of unwrapping and admiring plenty of very desirable objects. And as we chose all our ‘gifts’ ourselves, there are no undesirable ones.

Unwrapping our presents.JPG

For sure, the analogy isn’t perfect, but there is a festive atmosphere in the air. All year long we have waited for this time to come. Every action has been carefully prepared long ago, praying everyone will be happy; and success on the day depends on being able to carry through the plan. Now, the scene: maybe 10 people clustered together, excited as a new object arrives. A day later, and the scene has changed. People patting each other on the back over the course of the day, enjoying the fruits of communal effort. It all looks so beautiful! This community spirit thing is so very Christmas. Ready or not, the hustle and bustle starts at 9am and we’re all in it together.


When everyone at once is busy making someone else happy, they all end up tired and maybe just a little bit on edge. Every 5 minutes, something else requires your attention which just cannot wait. Everyone has an agenda in pursuit of happiness, and we all defend it, highly concentrated, in solemn earnestness. It’s a perfect mess.


I absolutely love it. Have always done so. And now Christmas has already started two months early! Today, more than ever, because today our exhibition catalogue has arrived! All of the Empires of Faith team, as well as our Edinburgh colleague Yuthika Sharma, and Miriam Frenkel from Jerusalem, have put a huge amount of energy into it over the last year and a half. It looks fantastic.


One simply cannot get enough presents!


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