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Beyond Re-uses: The Future of Church Monuments in a Secular Society | Au-delà de la conversion: l'avenir des églises monumentales dans une société sécularisée

Changes in Heritage (New Manifestations)Notions of HeritageReligious HeritageUrban HeritageArchitecture and Urbanism
Changes in heritageNew manifestations of heritageNotions of heritage
Regular session
7:30, Monday 6 Jun 2016 (8 hours)
Église Saint-Michel - Église Saint-Michel
Please note that this session is scheduled in a distant location from the main conference; transportation will be provided to registered participants. Bus pick-up is scheduled at 7:30 AM in front of the DS Building (320 Saint Catherine East street, on the UQAM site and will return for 7:00 PM at the same location.
Please wear your badge.
Veuillez noter que cet atelier est à l'extérieur de Montréal. Les délégués qui se seront enregistrés seront transportés par autobus vers le site. Le départ de l'autobus est fixé à 7h30 devant le pavillon DS de l'UQAM (320, rue Sainte-Catherine Est); le retour se fera le même jour, au même endroit, à 19h00.
Veuillez porter votre cocarde

All through the Christian West, increasingly more churches are closed to worship, and recycling, or converting to new uses has become commonplace. What has not been seen yet is a church renowned for its artistic value, a “monument” in the straight sense of the word, being totally abandoned by the cult and its religious references, fundamental for the understanding of the artistic value itself. While it is now well known that the increased social and global mobility threatens our traditional views on heritage in general, interpretation and education schemes are often put in place to overcome the lack of public memory and common backgrounds on which usually relies the common recognition of heritage: everybody can learn milling at the mill, or farming at the farm, even though they have no previous knowledge or family experience of these practices. But what about the religion, that bears the meaning of the most renowned religious works of art? What is the importance of the Sistine Chapel ceiling if somebody has no knowledge of the Last Judgement, less of Michelangelo, not to say of the so Europe-centred 16th century?
While we can admit that the traditional religious practices and knowledge that produced these Gesamtkuntswerk—as one could name the “total work of art” that describes some unique monuments left by Christianity—will soon be long gone, we have to question the means and the very reasons of their survival as a heritage that less and less would share. Much more that those church buildings that can be re-used for community or other purposes, of course at the cost of some of their décor or artefacts, these Gesamtkunswerk call for major public investments that will have to be justified, if not only through some kind of renewed interpretation and public understanding of their heritage values. If everybody agrees that they have to stay “untouched,” used only as monuments of themselves, should the public authorities engage into liturgy to sustain that mission? If not, who should own them and care for them? How can their integrity be preserved? How can their meaning be conveyed?
This session will provide the opportunity to discuss experiments conducted through the Western World and bring together different viewpoints on the economy, the interpretation and the in-situ preservation of works of art, notably to grasp the legal, financial and societal implications and means of heritage-making when it puts into question the consistency of monuments previously thought to be "untouchable."
Partout en Occident, de plus en plus d’églises sont désaffectées par le culte : le recyclage et la conversion à de nouveaux usages sont devenus monnaie courante. En revanche, l’expression de la valeur artistique des églises les plus monumentales pose toujours problème, car la disparition des attributs du culte menace leur capacité de produire du sens. Tandis que tout un chacun peut réapprendre à moudre de la farine ou à tisser pour comprendre le moulin ou le métier, la dissipation de la pratique commune de la religion met en péril la transmission des clés d’interprétation de ces monuments des traditions religieuses historiques.
Cet atelier aborde les expériences occidentales en ce qui a trait à la préservation de telles églises réputées « intouchables », afin de saisir les enjeux économiques et culturels que cette préservation sous-tend et de discuter des implications financières et sociales de ce patrimoine bien particulier. 
Moderator / council member of FRH (Future for Religious Heritage, European network for places of worship / Vice chair of Task Force Toekomst Kerkgebouwen / member of ICOMOS
Université du Québec à Montréal, Chaire de recherche du Canada en patrimoine urbain, Musée régional de Vaudreuil-Soulanges
Doctorante en histoire de l'art et chargée de projets

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