Unfolding the Proposed World We Can Inhabit Together: ‘Belonging’ in Art and Theology

Saturday, November 2, 2013
First author:
Emmanuel Nathan
Reciprocity & Friendship I


Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies,  KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
All authors:

Emmanuel Nathan

Alienation, reciprocity, indwelling


To use input from the visual arts in order to come to a theological reflection on the ‘art of belonging’ as it pertains to disability.


1. Introduction with film fragment, Gattaca (1997) and drawing, Moon Landscape (Petr Ginz, d. 1944): depict alienation and non-belonging. 2. Main body of paper - Two separate corpora: (1) the artwork of young persons with mental and physical disabilities contained in the catalogue Eine Welt Ohne Mauer (1999), and (2) Jörg Niederberger’s Apsidengemälde (2006) in the Dreifaltigkeitskirche (Bern): separately depict the active desire for belonging in a world without walls and mutual indwelling. 3. Hermeneutical/theological framework: Normativity of the Future (Bieringer and Elsbernd, 2010), now applied to disability and belonging.


The experience of disability, in particular the alienation brought on by exclusion and non-belonging, is a catalyst towards discerning cultural scripts (the visual arts being one of them) that can inspire hermeneutical and theological reflection.


The visual art under discussion ‘unfolds a proposed world to be inhabited’ (Ricoeur 1991: 86) in which there is mutual indwelling and belonging with others.


Bieringer, Reimund and Elsbernd, Mary (Eds.). Normativity of the Future: Reading Biblical and Other Authoritative Texts in an Eschatological Perspective. Annua Nuntia Lovaniensia 61. Leuven: Peeters, 2010. Herzog, Christiane (Ed.). Eine Welt ohne Mauer. Bundesweiter Schulmalwettbewerb des Haus am Checkpoint Charlie. Berlin: Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, 1991. Ricoeur, Paul. From Text to Action: Essays in Hermeneutics II. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1991.