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British film director Peter Greenaway and Dutch theatre and visual artist Saskia Boddeke recreate the sacrifice of Isaac in Obedience, a massive multi-media installation at the Jewish Museum in Berlin until September 13.

Few biblical stories are as controversial as the one about God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his own son. Although the sacrifice was ultimately not performed, the terror has lingered on through the centuries. In the three monotheistic religions, it is among the most significant and most popular stories and among the first that were ever depicted. The text that is handed down in Judaism as the “Binding of Isaac” to this day still raises questions that are answered differently by the three religions.

Greenaway and Boddeke understand the sacrifice of Isaac as a human drama. Which is stronger – God’s command or the love of a father? And where can the modern subject be found between the priorities of obedience and trust?


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Taking these questions as starting point, Boddeke and Greenaway have developed a coherent artistic scenario that approaches the biblical narrative, deconstructs it, and refocuses the constituent parts to create an emotionally tangible scenario.

The result is a multimedia exhibition  – using film projections, installations, precious objects, and its own soundtrack, the biblical narrative is staged as a sensuous and emotional showpiece in fifteen parts. Its dramaturgy is inspired by the legends of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions, and linked with the experience of our time.

Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

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