Zwischenzeit at the Holy Stairs in Rome and Pontius Pilate’s Question about Truth

Three Zwischenzeit projects were presented in December 2016 at the Italian photography festival Fotografia in Rome: an exhibition of 40 photographs under the title, Zwischenzeit – Quo Vadis Europa?, the 2016 e-book edition under the same title, and the ZWISCHENZEIT ONLINE platform, on which the book was available for free viewing for several weeks. Venue for the event: the Sala 1 gallery* at the Scala Santa, the Holy Stairs, in Lateran.

According to Christian belief, Jesus climbed these stairs two thousand years ago to face trial. ** In St. John’s gospel (John 18:37-38) we read the following dialogue that purportedly took place between Jesus and his judge, the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate: Jesus said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice”. Pilate responded,

”Quid est veritas? – What is truth?”

Pilate’s question about truth gained particular significance by virtue of its central position in the New Testament, having been taken up and interpreted in innumerable literary and artistic works. The fact that, of all conceivable places in the world, the Zwischenzeit photographs found their way precisely to these stairs*** seems to me to this very day an astounding, virtually surreal event. Not least of all because the photographs, too, pursue two principal questions:

What is (the) truth? and What is reality?

Gallery: Zwischenzeit at Sala 1 (Selection of 30 photos in a randomly generated sequence)

* Sala 1 is an international centre for contemporary art belonging to the Scala Santa (Holy Stairs) complex. The gallery is located close to the Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano which has been the official seat of the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) since the time of Emperor Constantine. Sala 1 acts independently of the Vatican.

** The stairs are said to have been brought from Jerusalem to Rome in 326 A.D. on the orders of Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great.

*** Whether the traditions surrounding the Stairs correspond to historical facts is probably above all a question of faith. What is the truth? – This question is inseparable from the place itself.


The exhibition in Rome was realized with kind support from the Forum Austriaco di Cultura a Roma, Sala 1 – Centro Internationale d’Arte Contemporanea, Fotografia – Festival Internationale di Roma, and Edition Lammerhuber.

The photographer and author of these lines does not belong to any religious confession, but nevertheless believes in the coincidence of all the images.

Zwischenzeit Addendum:
What is (the) truth? and What is reality?

Truth and Time. Addendum Lumina

The supplement to Zwischenzeit, Addendum, is also dedicated to these questions. Addendum came about as a consequence of the show in Rome. It represents a personal engagement with Pilate’s question about truth against a contemporary backdrop: the refugee crisis and the war in Syria. Addendum can be viewed in the 2018 e-book edition of Zwischenzeit.