Here I Stand: Marketing and Remembering the Reformation
Religion & Liberty Online

Here I Stand: Marketing and Remembering the Reformation

I just couldn’t pass this one up.

Below is an ENI story on the installation of 800 “colourful miniature figures of the 16th-century Protestant Reformer Martin Luther” in the market square of Wittenberg.

Just as last year there was a good deal of academic and commercial interest around the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, you can expect a great deal of activity leading up to the 500th anniversary of the traditional date of the dawn of the Reformation in 1517.

There are some more details on Ottmar Hörl’s installation here and at his personal website.

Martin Luther: Hier stehe ich
Ottmar Hörl, Martin Luther: Hier stehe ich, 2010 (Foto: Christoph Busse/Sven Hoffmann)

Here’s a video of the removal of the original nineteenth-century Luther statue upon which Hörl’s installation is based, in preparation for its restoration.

Mini Luthers to stand in Wittenberg market square
By Anli Serfontein

Trier, Germany, 3 August (ENI)–Eight hundred colourful miniature figures of the 16th-century Protestant Reformer Martin Luther will soon be on display on the central market square of Wittenberg where he lived and worked.

The installation by German artist Ottmar Hörl is part of the Luther Decade celebrations that commemorate the period between Luther’s arrival in Wittenberg in 1508 and the beginning of the Reformation in 1517.

“My installation aims to make it possible once again to understand and experience the unqualified relevance and significance of the person of Martin Luther,” Hörl said in advance of the opening of the installation on 14 August.

Luther is said to have nailed his 95 theses protesting against corruption in the Roman Catholic Church on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on 31 October 1517. Within a month his theses had been reprinted in Nuremberg, Leipzig and Basel.

Scholars point to the invention of the printing press as being key in enabling Luther’s writing to be distributed through Germany and beyond.

The Luther figures, which are approximately one metre (39 inches) in height, are based on an 1821 statue of Luther that normally stands on the Wittenberg market but is currently being restored.

“My installations in public spaces, in which a model is multiplied, may be compared, in their artistic idea and intention, with printing,” said Hörl, who has previously set up mass installations in Nuremberg and at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

“It is only through the production of multiple copies that a text, a picture, a phenomenon becomes visible, becomes accessible to a wider public,” he said.

Hörl said he wanted to stress Luther’s role, “as a translator who, in his day, could not have been effective without the invention of printing.

“When his translation of the New Testament from Latin into German was published in 1522, 3000 copies were sold in that year, and over 200 000 within 15 years.”

The installation, which lasts until 12 September, is titled, “Martin Luther: Here I Stand”, after a statement attributed to Luther in 1521 in the city of Worms, Germany, when he was called upon to defend himself before Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor.

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Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of the First Liberty Institute. He has previously held research positions at the Acton Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and has authored multiple books, including a forthcoming introduction to the public theology of Abraham Kuyper. Working with Lexham Press, he served as a general editor for the 12 volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series, and his research can be found in publications including Journal of Markets & Morality, Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Faith & Economics, and Calvin Theological Journal. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.