(B2-23) Media figurations between the poles of religion and politics: sacral buildings and public monuments in Central and Northern Europe around 1700

The courtly and court-oriented representational culture in European seats of power around 1700 is a particularly fruitful topic for investigating the question as to the extent to which “processes of mediation, negotiation and symbolisation between religion and politics” are depicted and constructed in “media figurations” (field of research B). This is due to the very general political and religious conditions: at one pole were the different religious constellations, which not only amounted to a polarity of “Catholic” vs. “Protestant” but which could also include denominational oppositions between territorial princes and the majority of the population. At the other pole, the international system took root as a fabric of sovereign states in which “old” monarchies with territories whose lords aspired to royal dignity competed for power and prestige. This facilitated a basic approximation of standards in representational culture, in which above all papal Rome and Louis XIV’s France served as guiding models. In this stage, which was particularly important for the formation of the seats of power, the ambition to refill the cities’ public space with religious and political signs hit a new peak. This means that an area of conflict opened up in which the media figurations of architecture and pictorial art gained a key role “in the definition, implementation and problematisation of discourse systems” in the fluid border area of religion and politics. The sacral building – with its dome – dominating the urban space and the monument giving distinction to the public place are among the most important media of contemporary representational culture.

In contrast to previous research, the chosen approach is innovative insofar as the focus is not on the secular courtly sphere but, instead, explicitly on the religious or, respectively, above all religiously connoted secular area. Furthermore, interest is not aimed at the various artistic ‘design tasks’ in a court but, instead, on the analysis of the planning and implementation of certain genres and tasks in a comparative perspective – focusing on six seats of power that appear to be particularly significant with regard to the political and religious parameters outlined above: Vienna, Dresden, Berlin, Turin, Munich and Stockholm. To what extent can artistic models of predominantly Catholic origin be utilised across political and denominational rifts for new tasks and claims? What are the specific characteristics that a media figuration ‘come across’ entails and that shift it outside the commitment to the respective political denominational context? What are the ensuing conflicts with regard to the new context, and how were they tried to be resolved?

The Project is part of coordinated project group Figurations of the religious and the political.