Saturday, March 1, 2014

Wenders and Fujimura: Artists Converted via Their Own Art

In a class I am teaching called Post-Secular Film, Fiction, and Theory, we recently watched Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, a film that allows us to see the citizens of Berlin (before the reunification) from the vantage point of angels. We do more than see these Berliners; we hear their thoughts and watch the angels comfort and protect them. We get a strong sense of the existential states of these many minor characters, and we see that children, not most adults, can see the angels.
I have many things to say about this beautiful film but the main reason for this post is to share a wonderful interview with the director, Wim Wenders, from Image Journal

In this interview, Wenders, raised a nominal Catholic, explains that when he made this film about angels, he did not actually believe in them. They were merely a creative mechanism that enabled him to film Berlin from an almost omniscient vantage point. Wenders was a painter before he became a filmmaker, and he claims that he was not interested in story, only images. He saw no place for the metaphysical in film.

After making this film, he realized that many people saw things in his film that he did not intentionally put there, metaphysical narratives, things of the life of the Spirit. This amazed and challenged him to come to faith. He claims that in the making of the film "angels had been present, or that something had been present, that used me somehow...".

I just had to add that a friend just sent me this link of Wim Wenders telling his own story at an arts conference given by the BerlinProjekt church in Berlin (a church that I am excited to say I will be visiting next month). Unfortunately for me, the lecture is in German. But if you can speak German, enjoy. And if you speak German and have a very kind and patient heart, maybe you will even translate it for me.

This amazing account of an artist whose own art was used in the process of his conversion also reminds me of artist Makoto Fujimura's conversion narrative.

Fujimura trained in a Japanese art college whose taught painting techniques were steeped in Buddhist ideology; there was not a significant Christian influence that overtly influenced his view of reality or art at the time.  When I heard the artist speak at a conference, he very humbly told the story of his creating a painting that was so beautiful, he was overwhelmed, even frightened. This painting was sublime, not merely beautiful. He was in awe of its source as he know immediately that this beauty came from beyond him. I do not know the details of his entire conversion but I do not that this encounter with God via his own art was the turning point.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you!! (J.R. Caines)