Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of place & home

Konstanz: Jan Hus’ last stand

Above/featured: Old Town from the Bodensee (Lake Constance): visible from left-to-right are respectively the broad-roofed Konzilgebäude (Council Building), Münster (tall Cathedral spire behind sailboat), and the Dominikanerinsel (Dominicans Island). Photo on 23 Sep 2017.

6 July is a national holiday in the Czech Republic; the formal name is “the day Jan Hus was burned at the stake” (Den upálení mistra Jana Husa).

I wrote previously about medieval Bohemian theologian and reformer Jan Hus (John Huss) whose teachings in the relatively novelty of the Czech language and criticisms about abuse and injustice within the Catholic Church predated Martin Luther’s own revolution for change by almost 100 years. Hus’ place within Czech history is fixed onto the nation with a giant memorial sculpture at the centre of Old Town Square in the capital city of Prague. His place is also assured in the European Reformation as seen in full display at the world’s largest Reformation Monument in the German city of Worms. Hus’ conviction and execution and the resulting armed conflicts would give rise not only to the concept of European unity (see also the prominent Czech historical figure George of Poděbrady), but would also give way to the European continental wars of religion.

As key historical aspects for creating unique Bohemian and subsequent Czech identity, Hus’ life, final days, and death are also a part of the historical record in the southern German city of Konstanz (Constance in English, Kostnice in Czech).


How Hus got here

The backdrop was the one of the largest conferences in the Middle Age. The Council of Constance met from 1414 to 1418, during which one key directive of the synod was to decide once and for all a single pope from three candidates. With the Council’s election of Pope Martin V in 1417, the Papal Schism which began in 1378 effectively came to an end; this would also be the one and only time a pope was elected on German soil. As the only meeting of its kind held north of the Alps, this massive medieval assembly gathered tens of thousands of people, including religious, political, civic, and social leaders; scholars and other civic officials; as well as traders and merchants from around the continent.

Constance had become a free Imperial city in the late 12th-century, allowing the city to prosper by trade of many goods around the European continent and onto the Mediterranean to destinations in Africa and the Middle East. The city was chosen to host the 15th-century conference, because the city as bishopric had sufficient space and resources to host, house, and feed a very large number of conference guests. Constance has the nickname “Stadt des Konzils” or the “Council City”, and has been included as part of the Hussite Cultural Route (Hussitische Kulturroute), which traces Hus’ final journey from Prague to Konstanz.

As follower of English philosopher John Wycliffe, Hus spoke out on flagrant abuse and corruption, especially on the sale of indulgences with the act of forgiveness for sin being used as a tool to increase church income. At a time when the church claimed complete spiritual, moral, and civic authority, Hus was an obvious troublemaker, and the central church authority punished him with censure and excommunication. Hus was called to travel from Prague to Konstanz and answer charges of heresy at the Council of Constance. He ignored the pleas of friends and colleagues to stay put (“it’s a trap!”), and armed with an apparent imperial promise of safe passage and conduct, he set off on his journey to Konstanz. Upon arrival in November 1414, the promise was naught and the betrayal complete; Hus was promptly arrested, imprisoned, and tortured in various places throughout the area for several months. In refusing to recant over his criticisms against the church, he was never given a fair trial. The Council convicted him of heresy inside the city’s cathedral on 6 July 1415. Hus was immediately handed over to the civil authority, who condemned him to death by burning at the stake on the same day. Jan Hus is revered as a key historical figure for Czechs and the Bohemian Reformation, just as Martin Luther would be for his role to kick off the German Reformation almost 100 years later.


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Fotoeins Friday in Berchtesgadener Land: Ramsau

Deep in the southeast corner of Germany is the picturesque town of Ramsau, about 15 minutes west from Berchtesgaden. Completed in 1512, the town’s St. Sebastian Parish Church provides a human and transitory counterpoint to the much longer geologic timescale of the surrounding Northern Limestone Alps with an age of about 250 million years. It’s no surprise that the visual church-mountain combination is a popular photographic motif.

I made the photo above on 26 May 2018 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime and the following settings: 1/1000-sec, f/14, ISO1000, and 18.5mm focal length (28mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-glI.

Fotoeins Friday: native Seattle, Alki Beach Park

For a late-winter afternoon in West Seattle, Alki Beach offers a quiet and breezy respite from the hustle and bustle of the downtown area which as the cityscape (and the presence of the Space Needle) shows is only a few miles away. The differences come as no surprise: the pace is slower, the sensibility is uncomplicated, outlook and livelihood directed by the adjacent waters of the Salish Sea (Puget Sound).⁣⁣⁣⁣
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⁣⁣⁣⁣Perhaps it’s the latter what the indigenous Duwamish and Coast Salish people were pondering when a group of white settlers in the Denny party came ashore in November 1851. With his own group, Chief Seathl (siʔaɫ, Si’ahl, Sealth) of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes arrived to meet the strangers from the sea. Today, a monument and various plaques around Alki Beach Park highlight how the Denny party attempted to start their new life in what is now West Seattle, before they pulled up stakes and moved the following April onto the high ground next to the muddy flats of what is now the Pioneer Square District. ⁣⁣⁣⁣
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⁣⁣⁣⁣In its place, the city might have once been called “New York Alki” by early white settlers, but eventually, the growing city would take the name of the indigenous chief.⁣⁣⁣⁣ The intervening decades would see competing views of “place-stories” to fit future dreams and mourn the apparent loss of the “pristine past” without any acknowledgment of responsibility; both could and would be used to sell the image of the city.
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I made the photo above on 6 March 2020 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime and the following settings: 1/60-sec, f/11, ISO 800, and 18.5mm focal length (28mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-h9L.

The Troll II, Alison Marks, Tlingit, The Troll, Fremont, Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: native Seattle, The Troll II

Inside the museum, I turned the corner and I saw a representation of a troll with its hand on a half-buried car to the lower-right.

Wait a sec … that’s very familiar.

In acknowledgement of one of Seattle’s sculptural landmarks The Fremont Troll, indigenous Tlingit artist Alison Marks produced her version, “The Troll II”, for the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington. Marks states:

The Troll II, Alison Marks, Tlingit, The Troll, Fremont, Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA, fotoeins.com

Alison Marks, about her “The Troll II” in reference to The Fremont Troll.

Alison Marks became the first Tlingit woman to carve and raise a totem pole when her pole was raised in Yakutat, Alaska on 27 October 2019.

⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣I made the photos above on 5 March 2020 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-ha5.

“Iconic Black Women”, by Seattle artist Hiawatha D

(Best you view these images NOT on a tiny mobile screen, but from your desktop or laptop. You can either view the scrolling gallery above, or move down into the post for the same images with important informative captions.)

As part of an ongoing journey to learn more about Seattle’s black community and their ongoing story, I visited the city’s Northwest African American Museum (NAAMNW) in March 2020. The museum’s permanent collection casts a spotlight on black migration within the United States, and the contributions by blacks to the nation and to the American Pacific Northwest. Also timely was the simultaneous visit of the NHL’s Black Hockey History mobile museum as part of their 14-city tour throughout North America.

I was especially moved by the museum’s special exhibition “Iconic Black Women: Ain’t I A Woman“, by Hiawatha D, an artist based in Seattle. His work and paintings highlight his story as a black man and black artist in America. His series of paintings “Iconic Black Women” is about positive images of strong confident black women who’ve been key cultural contributors to human rights, music, literature, and sport. On sight, the context, clothing, and body language for some of these figures may be immediate and familiar. But many of the people painted don’t have faces, which allows viewers, especially young women, to see themselves in these figures, sparking and strengthening a connection between viewer and iconic black women.

I would love to see another name added to this list of iconic black women: Viola Desmond.


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