In a city with more than 80 nationalities, religion is often an important way of defining one’s identity. The city has churches, mosques, temples … for every belief or persuasion. Each religion has its specific prayers and rituals.
Each year in September, the city of Genk constructs a new portrait of the city, in a small festival (Vertelfestival) with local stories as its backbone. Theatre, dance, simple story-telling, exhibitions etc. are part of a specially themed week full of culture. In 2009 the theme for this festival is “faith”, with an exhibition focussing on all local links between religion and its inhabitants. The Prayer-project will be part of this week.
A permanent focus in all these projects is the direct involvement of the inhabitants. A project like “Prayer – a human function” is for the cultural centre of the city of Genk and the heritage departement (erfgoedcel Mijn-Erfgoed) a perfect way to accentuate this by using the method of oral history in a fairly young city as Genk and the surrounding former mining communities. By questioning inhabitants about their devotion to their chosen religion and the historical background of these religions in the region an important aspect of the local identity is captured in stories and on tape, to be archived for future generations.
City of Genk, Belgium