In 2021, the Roman Catholic Saint Joseph’s Church in Utrecht hosted its final mass and would no longer serve as a house of prayer. Its formerly exalted atmosphere and grandeur would perhaps not have been evident to visitors to the following summer: its floors now covered in plastic foil, its undulated arches are accompanied by the metal poles of a scaffolding structure, and pop music blasts through a portable radio. A monitor showing 3D-models of building materials and two parking curbs in a bed of sand might give us the sense that we have found ourselves in a construction site for a parking lot.
Lüschen’s installation In Praise of Parking Curbs (2022) combines liminal spaces. We can find notions of ‘spaces of becoming’ in the speculative computer-made renderings, the parking lot (i.e., a transit point), the construction site and the church (a place for character-building) in deconstruction. With these many layers, the space is, as Lüschen puts it, ‘vagued’ and has become harder to interpret. And yet, after the initial sense of surprise subsides, one may feel that the seemingly incompatible natures of a church and the construction iconographies are beginning to blend.
When the camera in the video work pans downward from a highway to its concrete support pillars, the resemblance to an ancient temple aisle is striking and is reinforced by a change in music. When the pillars start to pound on the sound of primordial drums, their movement removes them further from their load-bearing functionality. Later, the video shifts and reveals a softly illuminated pile of bricks that is slowly rotating, leaving us to contemplate the beauty of its perfect triangular shape and its materiality (even as the artificiality also annihilates the latter). In the chapel, a theatrical spotlight illuminates the parking curbs, demanding our attention in a way that is rare for these raw materials. Ethereal music plays when one of them is slowly hoisted in the air.
In In Praise of Parking Curbs, the distinctions between the mundane and the spiritual are blurred, with the functionalist aesthetics of the built environment elevated to a metaphysical plane.