6 March 2024

Antonios Kakalis, ‘Matter Matters’

Advanced studies’ seminar on sacred space hosted by Eric Parry Architects, 6 March 2024. With The Very Rev. Archimandrite Antonios Kakalis (Newcastle University)

00:00:00 Fr Antonios Kakalis – Keynote presentation
00:34:46 José de Paiva
00:40:17 Elizabeth Theokritoff
00:44:18 Christian Frost
00:48:02 James Heywood
00:52:57 Veronica Della Dora
00:57:45 Eric Parry

Online talks on sacred space:
Presence, Person, Beauty

This series brings contemporary authors to reflect on some of the most primary questions for theology and philosophy as well as the history of art and architecture. From divine dwelling in the Old Testament to its Christian understanding, the question of divine presence in the visible world has been at the heart of the community of the faithful. From the ancient search for the face of God to the traditional understanding of person, the question of personhood and its myriad implications have challenged our understanding throughout history. They have also guided our understanding of what it means to live together and build our world. And yet, in our contemporary lives, we often seem oblivious to the natural goodness and beauty of the created world in which we dwell and build; even in today’s sacred art and architecture, the word beauty is scarcely, if ever, used. These online seminars on presence, person and the theology of beauty – of the created world, of art and architecture – explore these topics in a way that is by no means exclusive to the sacred, but hopefully provocative in the best sense of the term.

Synopsis: Christian Church architecture has emerged and developed upon the Eucharistic tradition of the Mystical Supper; of breaking bread, dipping it into wine and sharing it amongst the ritual’s participants (Matthew: 26-29; Mark: 22-25; Luke: 19-22, John: 23-25). The presentation explores the role of sacred bread offerings in the liturgical place-making of a transnational Orthodox Christian community in Edinburgh, Scotland. Investigating theories of embodied belonging, personhood, memory and materiality, it seeks to answer questions related to the absolutely needed components of an Eastern Orthodox worshiping place and how their (re)arrangement in different spaces also reflects the dynamics of the body of its congregation. The making of the bread and the liturgical integration and consecration of loaves of bread into the Body of Christ play a key role in the liturgical space and time, defining specific rituals, according to which services are structured. These rituals ask for specific spaces to take place in them at specific moments before or during a service as well as special objects to facilitate their performance. By shedding light on different sacred bread offerings through current practices of transborder religious communities, the presentation aims to argue about the significance of ephemeral elements (in this case bread) in the ways individual and collective embodied identity is constituted through faith acts. Ethnographic work at a transnational Orthodox parish in Scotland will be combined with careful reading of liturgical rubrics will be combined with examples of architectural spaces and experience to argue about sacred breads as objects of inter-cultural material potentials.

Rvd Dr Antonios (Christos) Kakalis is a Senior Lecturer in Architecture and the Co-director of the Architecture Research Collaborative of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University. He is a registered architect (Greece), has obtained the interdisciplinary MSc ‘Design, Space, Culture’ (NTUA, Athens, Greece), holds a PhD in Architecture (University of Edinburgh), and has also studied Theology (IOCS, Cambridge). He has been practising for more than 15 years now and has conducted research and taught at different universities (in Greece, UK and Canada). His work focuses on the conditions of embodied experience of architecture and natural landscape with special emphasis on religious landscapes. Parts of this research have been published in the co-edited volumes: (with Mark Dorrian) The Place of Silence: Architecture / Media / Philosophy (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020), (with Emily Goetsch) Mountains, Movements, Mobilities (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), and the forthcoming Embodied Awareness and Space: Body, Agency and Current Practice (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023), his monograph Architecture and Silence (Routledge, 2020) and his forthcoming monograph Place Experience of the Sacred: Silence and the Pilgrimage Topography of Mount Athos (Palgrave Macmillan, 2024). His current research involves the closer examination of place and identity in transnational religious communities in the UK and the US as well as issues of resilience and sustainability in the interchange between local and moving communities in Scotland.