The archetype of the temple

The Prohram Studio, together with the Council for Church Architecture of the Union of Architects of Russia, presented the installation “The Archetype of the Temple." The supervisor is Dmitry Ostroumov.
The theme of the festival is “Tomorrow.” This implies the search for and identification of modern trends in architecture and urban planning. The installation embodies the generalized archetype of the Christian temple, relevant for all times, including the future, the very "tomorrow.”
This is a symbolic spatial structure, a generalized archetype of the Christian temple, relevant for all times or timeless.
The installation focuses on the alchemical component of architecture. It references the concept of the four roses, which was often used in Flamboyant Gothic art. This period was the apex era of spiritual praxis, both in the East and in the Christian West. After that, the spiritual tradition of Europe began to decline, and the impulse towards the transcendent faded away. It was replaced by the forms of classical antiquity, with their concentration on fleshly principles.

It is noteworthy that “Gothic” Europe maintained contacts with northern Russia. There is a hypothesis that Grand Duke Andrei Bogolyubsky was at one time associated with knightly monastic orders. The most famous of them are the Order of the Templars, with their mysticism of the Temple, as well as the Teutonic Order.

The authors of the installation work with the image of a reinterpreted cathedral, decorated on four sides with symbolic roses. On the floor of the installation is the classic layout plan of a four-pillar temple. In the center of it, there is a labyrinth. It symbolizes the life path of a person called to come to the Center - the Divine. One is called to unite with Him in one's heart in synergy, to “become a god” oneself, according to Saint Athanasius the Great. The labyrinth also denotes the spiritual path of Eurasia. It also moves with all historical vicissitudes, from the periphery to the center and back. It has its goal-setting in the One, its path unites East and West throughout the centuries.

The 'roses' in the installation have volume, they are structures placed on pedestals in the form of geometric bodies of different shapes. We use the concept of Platonic solids, regular polyhedra, which the philosopher Plato used to explain the nature of all things.

On the southern side, above the side entrance to the "temple," there is a golden rose. It symbolizes the introduction to the spiritual tradition. Gold is an image of divine love that a person encounters when coming to Christ. This is an image of “summoning grace,” neophyte enthusiasm, and the euphoria of finding meaning, the encounter, and the amazement. The golden rose is also a symbol of cataphatic theology, or the knowledge of God through positive characteristics such as love, goodness, greatness, truth, beauty, and freedom. Finally, a golden rose denotes creativity, the implementation of an idea in the material world, and the spiritualization of matter. This polyhedron has the shape of a cube, which in the system of Platonic solids corresponds to the earth, the material principle.

In the north, opposite the golden rose, there is a sapphire rose. It symbolizes apophatics, the “theology of negation,” as it is applied to the earthly world. This is a rose of disappointment in the worldly, understanding of the illusory nature of the world, samsara of base demiurgy, memento mori. Once, a young Russian emigrant in Paris, the future Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), had a similar experience. When he was sitting at the table, resting his head on his hand, he suddenly realized that he was holding his own skull. He later recalled: “When I looked at people, before any thought, I saw them in the power of death, dying, and my heart was filled with compassion for them. […] I despised material wealth and did not highly value intellectual wealth, which did not give me the answer to what I was looking for. […] My spirit needed eternity” (from the book “Seeing God as He Is”). Such denial opens in a person a craving for the Beyond and the Highest. This is also considered to be an innate feature of the Russian soul, with its endless dissatisfaction with earthly things. The Russian soul longs for vast space and freedom and aspires beyond the horizon of existence. The sapphire rose is in the shape of the octahedron, which meant air for Plato - the substance opposite to earth.

The synthesis of cataphatics and apophatics, of golden and sapphire roses, produces an emerald rose. It symbolizes spiritual praxis. This rose is located in the sanctuary of the “temple.” Emerald green is the color of the Holy Spirit, the color of Pentecost. It marks the synergy of man with the Divine and its practical, active dimension. God manifests Himself through beauty and love. But He also shows man the illusory nature of his ego and the fragility of the scenery of earthly existence. This leads to the birth of the emerald rose - to a life format reflected in the words of Saint Silouan of Athos: “Keep your mind in hell and do not despair.” A person understands that this world lives according to demiurgic parameters. Everything in it is built on the deception of the senses and the endless production of fictions and simulacra that copy themselves. Politicians and opinion leaders lie, black is positioned as white, and vice versa. The authentic and the living can only be found in true experiences and relationships with the Other, both with man and with God. On the one hand, the vision of the emerald rose keeps the golden rose from devaluing, revealing Beauty as a manifestation of the Divine. On the other hand, it grows from the sapphire rose, carrying the message that the world requires Transfiguration. The world is finite and imperfect, but this imperfection must become perfect in the Transfiguration. The fruit of both beauty and disappointment is a breakthrough to the present, to the Sun of Reason through the thorns of illusions. The emerald rose is made in the shape of a tetrahedron, corresponding to the fire element. "Our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29).

Opposite the emerald rose, in the west, is a violet (black) rose. It symbolizes complete transcendence, total unknowability, and the absolute unknownness of the Divine. When we say “God is love,” we limit Him to this love. By saying “God is truth,” we limit Him to the concept of truth. He is higher than truth and higher than love. That is why Saint Symeon the New Theologian states: “God is nothing, nothing of anything [that exists], as the Creator of everything, but He is above everything.” This is the hesychast approach to the knowledge of God. At the first stage, the Jesus prayer is an effort of will. But at the next stage, it is a cessation of effort, renunciation of it, and immersion in what the theologians call the “divine darkness.”

In the blackness of the last rose, there is light, but it is not conditioned by anything. After all, by calling it light, we are trying to give it a framework. This is complete unknownness, freedom, and chaos. This is also the absence of clear forms, incompleteness, understatement, and dynamics. “All, beneath the roof's vault, / We're awaiting the builder, / The call. Poets and pilots / - All gave up in despair. / He's the sprint - and he's moving. The whole volume of stars / Is, from Alpha to Omega, / Just a trace of his cloak.” (Marina Tsvetaeva, "God," translated by Paul Graves). The black rose is in the form of a dodecahedron, symbolizing transcendence. The shape of the face of the dodecahedron is a pentagon (five-pointed star). Its symbolism also references the transcendent. This star has no lower ray, which indicates the absence of a source. It also correlates with the winter solstice, that is, the time of the Nativity of the God-Man from the Virgin. According to the text of one of the liturgical hymns, on the day of the Nativity, “The Beginningless Begins.”
Man is a temple (see 1 Cor. 6:19), and the temple is a symbol of man. The image created by the installation is projected onto the human mind and heart. When the four roses are in harmony, we get on the Royal Path and reach the center of the labyrinth. There the fifth rose is born - transparent (diamond), completely pure. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8). The diamond rose has no material expression, it can only be contemplated. It is the center of man, the spiritual heart. In it, truth, high simplicity, and true love find their abode in purity and clarity, forming what Christ calls the Kingdom of God. "Behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). A person entering a temple, through prayer and response to the symbolic projection of spiritual praxis (four roses), is called to come to the state of experiencing the fifth, crystal-clear rose. This is intended to be achieved through the attunement of architecture and the human body. This is the mission of the present installation of an archetypal temple, which requires intellectual and spiritual reading. It is a temple of genuine Tradition and, at the same time, a temple of the future.
The roses were made of stained-glass and mounted on pillars of copper, oxidized at the base using special compounds. The closer to the roses, the purer the copper. This symbolizes the purification of the soul through spiritual praxis as it approaches God.