Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Threshold III

The threshold is an interesting and complicated phenomena. It is in one sense a protective barrier meant to divide. Doors and windows function as thresholds because they keep certain things in and others out. In day to day life windows and doors keep the cold in or keep it out. Through our doors and windows we keep our pets and children inside and keep insects out. This in/out division caused by thresholds can be applied culturally as well. An initiation rite, which is a form of threshold, is meant to separate the proverbial men from the boys and while details of these rites vary from culture to culture, it is like to be found around the world. In this sense, the baptismal font is an excellent concrete example. Few rites exist in our typical American culture. Getting drivers license or getting a first car, voting, turning 21 to buy alcohol, graduations, marriage, menstruation for women, and sex for both men and women often constitute the main ritual thresholds for our secular society. Within the religious realm, we find a few more: baptism, confirmation, first communion, marriage, bar & bat mitzvahs to name a few.

Returning to this series of photos, the windows and the doors are subtly suggestive of an openness to these realities. And yet, the astute observer will no doubt have noticed that in many of the shots the thresholds have been covered over or filled in with brick or wood. They become a rupture in the pattern of building.