Never Mind Form Follows Function
July 9, 2018 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Nobody builds churches like they do in this part of India German photographers Stefanie Zoche and Sabine Haubitz noticed these structures during their trips to India between 2011 and 2016 when they were documenting the slow extinction of single-screen cinema halls. They immediately knew what their next photo project would be—churches built in post-colonial India.
posted by MovableBookLady (14 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Wikipedia has more information on Christianity in Kerala: Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and Saint Thomas Christians. It's an unusual very old offshoot of the Church, they date themselves to 52 AD when Thomas the Apostle came to India. This beautiful modernist architecture is a little newer :-)
posted by Nelson at 11:31 AM on July 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

I like the exuberant designs.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:25 PM on July 9, 2018

And today I learned that Christianity has been in India for longer than much of Europe. Fascinating!
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:14 PM on July 9, 2018 [7 favorites]

Nagaland is 88% Christian.
posted by lagomorphius at 2:11 PM on July 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

It is an interesting article, but there is a playful element in non-religious architecture in India as well. Exhibit one: Hyderbad's National Fisheries Development Board building. But still, a good article and now I want to see the artist's complete show.
posted by seasparrow at 2:13 PM on July 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

You can visit the tomb of St. (Doubting) Thomas in Chennai. There’s reasonable certainty that these of the remains of the actual man.

When I went, it was like no big deal, a small plaque in a number of languages, not a lot of tourists, and there’s a small gift shop and I’m like “Holy Shit that’s one of Christ’s 12 original apostles, the bones in there actually talked to the man himself!” Except in my head only because I’m not that religious and am a disaffected Gen Xer.

But I’ve never understood how there’s places in Europe where someone thought they saw a ghost 500 years ago that draws millions of pilgrims and here’s an honest to god relic that actually lived with and learned from the Son of Man and it’s barely a paragraph in the Lonely Planet.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:15 PM on July 9, 2018 [8 favorites]

My dad's side of the family are St. Thomas Christians. They're believed to be descendants of Namboodiri Brahmins who were converted by St. Thomas. Legend has it that there was a family Bible that had all the family member names going back hundreds of years, but the Bible was badly damaged by some kind of insect.
posted by peacheater at 2:56 PM on July 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

the weirdest thing for me has always been that 'form follows function' was the supposed raison d'etre of brutalism. I always found that brutalism leads to agoraphobia.

That liberty from the constraints of pre-modern materials should lead to the shaved efficiency of meat by concrete seems almost prescient, now. A goddamn nightmare. Lord, and I met this architecture at PROGRO-US UNI (that is, UMASS Amherst decked its campus in Brutalist eye-soars like planting headstones on a prairie)

Massachusetts is windy/frigid in the winter and stiflingly humid in the summer...Why fill the Pioneer Valley with angular concrete patios and walls that either cut the wind into knives or acted as a griddle? Or took up spring and fall space with flat?

At least paint those fuckers. At least make them in shapes that are pretty from the street rather than from a helicopter.
posted by es_de_bah at 3:41 PM on July 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

I personally can’t stand modernist religious architecture. It’s not beautiful or comfortable.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:08 PM on July 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

At least paint those fuckers.

Ah but then the béton would not be brut.

These buildings are all fantastic and lovely and it's sad that the current trend is toward removing and downplaying the bright unique designs.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:07 PM on July 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Nagaland is 88% Christian.

And 75% of those 88% (i.e. 66%) are Baptist, making Nagaland officially the most Baptist place on Earth. (Runner-up Mississippi’s just 55% Baptist.)

But that’s way over by Bangladesh; the churches up there are spectacular and eclectic too, but in a completely different way — including, of course, the largest Baptist church in the world, which is also the largest church of any denomination in all of Asia.

The funky little churches in the post are Catholic ones in Kerala.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:53 PM on July 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

True about churches, but that is Route-1 roadside attraction chic... Cows, dinosaurs, Perry's Nut House, multiple Paul Bunyans, pirate ships... you name it... Route-1 can do it tackier!
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:31 PM on July 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

The movie house project was neat too. (Same photographer, with another one.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:56 PM on July 9, 2018

They have an almost Disneyesque vibe, to me. The blue and white one would be right at home parked next to It's a Small World.
posted by nonasuch at 6:45 AM on July 10, 2018

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