© Carlo De Rosa
God(s): A User’s Guide offers a journey through contemporary religious practices. A free exhibition that welcomes everyone! Based on an original concept developed by Tempora and approved by an international scientific committee chaired by the historian Elie Barnavi, a totally new version of the exhibition has been specially adapted for Geneva.
Both scholarly and artistic, it presents the religious experience in its universal (its questions) and specific sense (its many practices), looking at religion from the perspective of secularism through a themed approach (Divinities, Places, The Beyond and so on). We encounter the three book-based religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), Asian religions (Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism) and animism, from Africa to Oceania via the Americas.
The exhibition is a response to an obvious fact: religion has made a comeback in Europe due to the globalisation of communication methods and migratory movements, but also undoubtedly due to the collapse of the major ideologies that had acted as substitute religions in the Western world.
However, in a largely secular Europe, religion has become the blind spot of civilisation and the host societies seem unable to cope with this phenomenon. It is therefore essential to provide citizens, in particular the younger generations, with the keys to understanding religions, in order to protect social cohesion and democratic vigour in a society that is multi-faith and likely to remain so.
With around 200 valuable and everyday artefacts, photographs, artistic installations and testimonials, the exhibition takes visitors on a real journey through religion.
God(s): A User’s Guide offers a panoramic overview of religious practices in today’s world, through themes that act as gateways to the study of religion: Divinities, Worship, Intercessors, Body, Conflicts Coexistence and Secularism, Voices, Places, Cycles, the Beyond. Each section is examined from a specific angle and features an original design, blending an anthropological and artistic approach. According to the themes, sacred art merges into multimedia, while architectural models sit alongside statuettes of Buddha.
There can be no religion without divinities, those forces superior to humanity that determine the course of its existence and give it meaning.
All religions assume the existence of a world beyond, one that is simultaneously invisible, strange, and familiar. But they do not all have the same conception of this world.
All religions give rhythm to the believer’s life through rites of passage, from birth to death.
All religions express themselves through rites that organise communication with the gods. Below are ten ways of approaching the divine.
All religions take hold of people’s time and govern its course. In the same way that they punctuate individuals' time, they also organise the community’s time.
Every religion has a spatial dimension, with special places where the divinity shows itself and where people gather to pay homage to it.
All religions seek to control the body and to make it a tool of the divine.
All religions call on go-betweens between this world and the world beyond. The intercessors’ role is to create bridges between the two worlds.
Another truly universal human experience, music accompanies religious activities all over the world.
This section poses the question of the role of religion in conflicts: inter-religious conflicts, fundamentalist religious movements that challenge the power of the State, civilisation conflicts carried out in the name of religion. The theme is explored through the play “In the beginning” by Philippe Blasband, whose strong evocative power means that other artefacts are not needed.