The project for the reconstruction of the Notre-Dame-de-Paris cathedral, which was damaged by a fire in 2019, has been approved. The decision of the Commission for National Heritage and Architecture of France caused a wave of indignation.
As it turned out, we will no longer see Notre Dame Cathedral in its former form – visitors will be greeted by an installation of modern art, and religious objects and altars will be taken out. The authorities argue this decision by the fact that the cathedral will become a more hospitable place for everyone, independent of religion.
Maitre Patrick Chauvet, Rector of Notre Dame Cathedral, spoke in more detail about the innovations. In his opinion, modernization is designed to “connect” medieval architecture with modernity. This will make it “easier” to visit.
The interior design of the cathedral was entrusted to contemporary French artists – Ansel Kiefer, Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Louise Bourgeois. Their work will occupy the confessional space of the 19th century. Much of the interior decoration will be removed “to create more space for visitors.” Among the innovations are light projections on the walls of the cathedral, says Chauvet:
“Works of the 20th and 21st centuries could be placed next to paintings by old masters from the cathedral’s collection, such as Mathieu Le Nain’s Nativity of the Virgin. The Diocese is also considering the use of light projections on the walls of chapels with Bible passages translated into English, Chinese and Arabic. “
Visitors to the cathedral will enter it through the central portal, for which more than two thousand pieces of furniture will be rearranged. Lighting will be appropriate for the time of year, and sound effects will help “immerse yourself in the atmosphere”.
The plan for the reconstruction of the cathedral, not only among the public, but also among art historians and experts, caused a shock. Architect Maurice Coulo indignantly compares the renovation to the transformation of a cathedral into a kind of Disneyland analogue:
“What they plan to do with Notre Dame would never have happened with Westminster Abbey or St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Some kind of children’s amusement park is being created, which is unacceptable in such a great place. “
The newspaper Le Figaro published an open letter under the headline “Notre Dame: That which was saved by the fire, the diocese wants to destroy.” It was signed by more than 100 famous French people, including Didier Ricner, editor-in-chief of the art magazine La Tribune de l’Art. They are all convinced that innovations will disfigure Notre Dame Cathedral:
“The money collected for the restoration of North Dame will be used to completely distort the interior decoration and liturgical space of the church. The Church is 2000 years old. It has a history that we must respect, and which modern people cannot erase with a stroke of the pen. “
Art critics in other countries are no less outraged. Maria Ceccarelli, an expert on medieval architecture from the University of Pisa, is convinced that it is necessary to carry out a quality restoration, and not try to “modernize” the cathedral.
But there are also supporters of the innovations planned for the cathedral. For example, a professor at the Rome branch of the University of the Holy Spirit. Ducaine Elizabeth Leo told The Washington Post:
“The concept of the reconstruction project is fully consistent with the Catholic canons. This is not “Christianity for dummies”, as many say, but an attempt to attract young people, to correspond to the realities. “
Merciless fire On April 15, 2019, Notre Dame suffered enormous damage: 2/3 of the roof burned down, the spire of the cathedral installed in the 19th century was destroyed. Fortunately, they miraculously managed to save the main relic kept in the cathedral – the crown of thorns of Jesus Christ. It ended up in France thanks to King Louis Saint, who bought it from the Latin Emperor Baldwin II during the Crusades.
For a long time, firefighters could not cope with the fire, but in the end they still managed to save the load-bearing walls of the cathedral. Nevertheless, the historical monument suffered colossal damage. According to experts at that time, the restoration would take up to 15 years.
More than 340 thousand people donated a total of € 833 million for the restoration of the cathedral. The restoration process is expected to be completed by April 16, 2024, when the Olympic Games kick off in Paris.
Experts consider none of the several restorations experienced by the cathedral to be successful. But the latest project caused a real storm of public outrage and political resonance. Next year, France will host presidential elections, the first round – almost on the anniversary of the fire, April 10.
Emmanuel Macron’s main rival, far-right Erik Zemmour, described the cathedral’s renovation in Le Point newspaper as “a terrible enterprise aimed at distorting the essence of the most visited building in the world”:
“They encourage anything that can destroy the heart of our civilization. For several months, a project has been underway to dismantle the Cathedral of Paris under the pretext of its restoration. Since when does modernization consist of disfiguring an incredible masterpiece and replacing it with a silly fantasy? “
It should be noted that the incumbent President of France Emmanuel Macron is of the same opinion – he advocated reconstruction of the cathedral in its original form.