The magic of Lost and Found in Oude Kerk Amsterdam

On Friday 5th of July I had the pleasure to give a presentation on apocalyptic thinking and the afterlife in the 14th century during the XL edition of Lost & Found at the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam.

Lost & Found is a series of events organized by an amazing team of volunteers featuring diverse short presentations of (future) projects, music, and other interesting formats. I think they have not very often an academic presentation, but because this evening took place in the Oude Kerk, which was built in the 14th century and we were sitting, standing, and later dancing on the graves of such famous people as the Dutch seafaring hero Jacob van Heemskerck, it seemed more than appropriate to talk about heaven and hell and Judgement Day from a medieval perspective. Also for me giving my presentation at such a special place changed my perspective and let me somehow sense more which kind of impact a medieval sermon might have had on lay people.

The Oude Kerk is truly a very special church because it is the oldest church of Amsterdam, not in use anymore as a church but as a cultural place (like many other churches in the Netherlands due to the decreasing numbers of churchgoers), and it is at the heart of the Red Light District (The Wallen). Actually only a few meters from the church there are bars and the famous windows where the prostitutes present what they have to offer. Somehow it made me really sense how intermingled religion and worldly things have always been in real life and maybe more in a crowded medieval town than now.

The whole evening started with a performance of Jugedamos called the ‘Bible performance’. This performance set the right tone for an evening with very disparate presentations that were related to each other in a very special way. First Lotte Geeven presented a plan for a project to make the deepest hole of the world to record the sounds you hear from the deep. Some believe that the disturbing sounds you hear from the deep of the earth are the sounds of the tortured souls in hell… The problem is that making the hole and the recording equipment are very expensive, so if you feel a strong urge to sponsor this fascinating project (and maybe hear your predecessors screaming), don’t hesitate to contact Lotte.

Lost & Found Oude Kerk

My presentation was welcomed warmly. I could not get rid of the feeling that Jan van Boendale, Lodewijk van Velthem, and Jan van Leeuwen would have been more than pleased that their teachings were still found relevant by a lay public almost 700 years later. I was amazed how many questions people had afterwards and that the topic that interested them most were the apocalyptic people, those wild people who will come and persecute the Christians before the End. I was very happy to discuss later with Yassine El Idrissi, who was giving a presentation on his planned documentary about the war in Syria that will be broadcasted on Dutch TV, this motif’s occurrence in the Koran.

Lost & Found Oude Kerk

Very special to me was the presentation of a short movie by Tejal Shah with the title ‘There is a spider between us’ and the following Skype interview with the artist. Her movie addresses problems she experiences about talking about her sexual orientation with her parents and how she copes with her parents’ sexuality. She described in the interview how difficult it is to talk with your parents openly when you are actually living in two separate worlds, but love each other nevertheless.

Also very enchanting was the presentation of the magician Flip Hallema. I felt like a little child again, which I actually always do when animation movies, circus, and Cotton Candy are involved. Flip climbed on a chair and let sticks disappear and repaired and removed magic knots and told us fascinating stories from his long career as a magician. Highly dramatic was the introduction of the last act, the Utrecht based band Kids with Guns, because first the microphone had to be captured by a climber from under the church roof. Seeing somebody actually going up under the roof lets you really sense how small a human is in the universe of a church building. Later we were all dancing to Kids with Guns.

Click here to read the Dutch poem written by Ellen Deckwitz over this evening and to have a look at some more pics.

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  1. […] veröffentlicht, ein Interview für eine niederländische Zeitschrift gegeben, im Rahmen eines Kunstevents in einer Amsterdamer Kirche “performt” und einen Vortrag für einen Rotary-Klub gegeben, außerdem bin ich in sozialen Medien aktiv und […]



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