In September 2011, Pope Benedict XVI visited Germany. If the press was to be believed, the whole country was gripped by Pope mania. One of the stops on his trip was Erfurt.
The images Thomas Heise shows us of this visit don’t resemble in the slightest those seen for days on end on every channel. Cool black and white replaces the incense-heavy hues of Catholicism, the omnipre sent Pope gives way to police, security guards, a nervous state premier, snipers, first aid teams and all those required by protocol. Everyone dressed in the appropriate costumes, suits and uniforms rehearsing the meticulously planned grand arrival at Erfurt airport.
The usual state visit commotion, you might say. But the titular condition can relate to the details of the Pope’s visit as well as the description of a more general state. The slogan of the 2011 Catholic Diaspora Day can be seen on the door of Erfurt Cathedral: “We are all together in our beliefs”. Erfurt in 2011: in the midst of Thüringen’s Catholic enclave, in what used to be East Germany, the film also evokes the sort of promises of collective happiness no longer held in such high regard. It’s not hard to see this as a question of the system.