New devotion to gymnastic balls in the Diocese of Linz. Balls to make you marvel and smile.

From 2018 archive

Art installation "balance" in the Ursuline Church in Linz

Under the title "balance", 60 colourful gymnastic balls in the Ursuline Church in Linz invite visitors to explore their own balance, their own body postures and the associated mental and spiritual mood.

The art installation by Maria Meusburger Schäfer was opened on 29 June 2018 and can be seen and tried out at the Ursuline Church in Linz until 29 July 2018.

balance extends the ritual postures of Catholic religious practice, sitting, standing and kneeling, to include the dimension of a dynamic balancing movement striving for balance.

"Gymnastic balls are used in sports for stabilisation and fitness exercises. The art installation  balance brings these colourful balls into the sacred area of the church. Here, in the baroque surrounding space, they invite us to experience the body through movement exercises and thus expand conventional rules of behaviour in a playful way. Isn't it also about strengthening in church, about finding a (correct) posture and the search for balance between body, mind and not least the soul?" says the artist Maria Meusburger-Schäfer about her installation.

A displacement activity for the lack of real religion 
which is becoming all too palpable.

An exhibition to try out: 'balance' in the Ursuline Church in Linz.

An unusual sight in the church interior: colourful balls in the Ursuline Church in Linz.

In his introductory words to the exhibition, theologian Andreas Telser of the Catholic Private University (KU) Linz writes:

"But what is it about balance? Without a doubt, we are looking for it. It has 'hidden' itself well. If it were easy to find, there would be neither guidebook literature nor this installation! The physical exercise on the exercise balls makes us think: perhaps balance cannot be found, but only sought in play, in being 'lost' in play. Thus, profane and sacred play visibly intertwine in this installation.

The installed throw-in also makes us think ahead. Sitting at the ball, we look at others: "Watch out, you could fall! Pay attention! Let us pay attention and show respect to those who seek balance with us in life. Maria Meusburger-Schäfer's gymnastic balls roll us into everyday life: The game is serious; already outside this church door people will want to reach for our hand because they too are seeking balance. Are we already sufficiently practised for this?



The installation does not miss its effect in front of the baroque world that surrounds it. Gymnastic balls crowd into a space - a world - that still radiates. Its radiance makes us remember the countless people who once built this house of God, filled it with supplicant prayer, worship and song, and it makes us think of those who still animate it today. Posture was and is practised in this place: a posture that holds, holds fast, holds out, stops at times, holds out, and holds in balance, yes, in balance."

Balls that make you marvel and smile

 On the weekend after the opening (30 June/1 July), more than 200 people visited the art intervention in the Ursuline Church in Linz during opening hours. Many of them were tourists, bicycle travellers, visitors from Höhenrausch and regular guests of the Ursuline Church. Most of them were surprised to find gymnastic balls in the church, but immediately had a smile on their faces at the sight of the colourful balls. They happily took a seat on the balls and thus experienced the church interior from a different perspective.

"The conversations that arise with the visitors on site are particularly exciting," says the director of the Ursuline Church, Angelika Stummer, who is accompanying the exhibition on site. "Almost everyone has their own experiences on the subject of balance; for most people it is a constant struggle. Many tell us that the so-called work-life balance is difficult for them, and others report happy moments when many things are in harmony. One visitor particularly found the balance between the baroque forms of the architecture in the church interior and the colourful balls, which at first glance form a contrast, amazing and 'just beautiful'."

On each of the balls there is also a term that invites free associations. Visitors like to look for the terms on the balls and very often choose a particular term to sit or balance on. Among the terms are words like: longing, clarity, joy, seek, look, believe, carry and many more. The ball with the term "gelingen" (succeed) has already been reserved by a visitor, who will pick it up after the exhibition.

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