Tanja Bürgelin-Arslan


Over a period of two years, Tanja Bürgelin-Arslan collected prayers of Christians from all over the world.
 Prayers are the connection between mankind and God.
The entirety of Christians forms the church of Jesus, and this art installation shows the church of Jesus praying: 
Like a cloud, the prayers rise from earth to god.
 They are very precious, therefore, they are made of very high-quality material, i.e. of mirror-polished stainless steel.
 On the ceiling, there is a round mirror from which the prayers hang on transparent threads.
 Below, on the floor, there is another round mirror of the same size suggesting spatial depth and infinity, thus symbolizing the connection between heaven and earth: It shows the infinite depth of the relationship between god and mankind. 
In addition, one hears prayers spoken and sung:
 Several sound track are played in parallel as “The Church Praying”
One prayer fades in and out again as if one were passing a praying person. Then another prayer fades to the foreground.
 “I would like to bring prayer more into our consciousness again, it is always lost in our hectic times. Prayer is and remains the connection between us humans and God, at prayer we are quasi online.”

Visual and acoustic installation, 2013

Materials: Mirror-polished stainless steel and glass mirror

Dimensions: Mirror diameter 1.5 m
 Height approx. 5 m

Audio: Sung and spoken prayers in tongues: 11 min

The installation Prayers from Around the World was first exhibited in 2013 at the PROvocate exhibition at the Filter4 Cultur Affairs gallery in Basel. After that, among others, in Rome.

There is also a video for this work.

Listen to prayers in tongues

The Idea for this installation came during a church service when the whole church was praying in tongues.
The fact that God himself speaks though us people fascinates me, in particular:
 It is a holy language, also a very intimate prayer language between believers and God.
 I sensed this was a sublime moment and, before my inner eye, saw the prayers rise up like a cloud. This vision accompanied me ever since, and I had the desire to realise it artistically.

It took over two years until the idea had matured to a point where it could be realised: It was not easy to find believing Christians who were able to speak in tongues and were prepared to have their prayers recorded.
 At the same time, I asked friends to send me prayers in their own language or any language they spoke – be it popular prayers or their own personal ones – in writing.
The middle “column” symbolises God in the names ABBA, JAHWE, YESHUWA, ADONAI.
 This inner foundation is surrounded by the prayers. 
In German, there is the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer Jesus gave us.

Then there are the prayers friends gave me in various languages such as Swahili, Farsi, Afrikaans, Arabic, Turkish, Finnish, Swedish, Italian (including the very well-known Psalm 23), Spanish, French, German, Malagasy, Polish, Englisch (a children’s prayer), Hebrew (JAHWE NISSI, JAHWE ROI, JAHWE ROPHE …), Greek (KYRIE ELEISON) and Latin (AGNUS DEI QUI TOLLIS PECCATA MUNDI).

A total of almost 70 people were involved in the project.
It pleases me especially that the installation touches non-Christians. In awe, they gaze at the mirror that symbolises the depth and infinity of the relationship between God and mankind.
 It is through my art that I am able to share my view of the relationship with God with others.
 Since prayer seems to have been forgotten by so many in these hectic times, it is my intention to remind people of it again.

It is and will always be the connection between us and God. When we pray we are virtually “online”.
 And the use of prayers in tongues imparts a whole other dimension to the installation.
Tanja Bürgelin-Arslan

Praying in tongues – the heavenly language:
The Bible: Acts 2, 1-13

At Pentecost, the disciples were baptised in the Holy Spirit and suddenly began speaking in new tongues.
These were languages actually existing at the time. People of different nations heard them declaring the wonders of God in their own language. And they also spoke in this heavenly language we refer to as speaking in tongues.

The exhibition of the sculpture Prayers from Around the World in Basel aroused public interest.

In 2015, Sozialwerk Nazareth in Norddeich, Germany commissioned Tanja Bürgelin-Arslan to create a prayer sculpture * to fill the provided space at their Friedenskirche church. This was inaugurated at Easter 2015 at Friedenskirche in Norddeich.

See more about the Prayers Sculpture in public spaces (FRIEDENSKIRCHE NORDDEICH)

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