Luther in Autumn

By Philippe François, pastor, and Elisabeth Schlenk, photographer

In autumn 1517, Martin Luther published 95 theses against the corrupt use of indulgences, setting off a chain of events that led to the Protestant Reformation.

On 31 October 2017, Protestantism celebrated its 500th anniversary. For the occasion, Philippe François proposed a conceptual art exhibition illustrating, in the form of photographs and paintings with text, the traces of Lutheran-Reformed Protestantism in Alsace-Moselle, a predominantly Lutheran Protestant Concordat territory (225,000 parishioners in 247 parishes). Historically, French-speaking Protestantism has always been reticent about the use of images; this is why this exhibition offers a playful, benevolent look at contemporary images of Protestantism, in a sort of reversed perspective.

“Luther in Autumn” is an allusion to the season during which Luther wrote his 95 theses, but it is also a tribute to the great poem by Alsatian poet Jean-Paul de Dadelsen, titled Bach in Autumn (1955), a work evoking Alsatian Protestantism, and, finally, more remotely, a reference to the film Deutschland im Herbst (Germany in Autumn, 1978), a collective work by eleven directors from the New German Cinema movement.

Credits: © Ph.F. / E.S