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Soulmate and Astral Body

Workshop and Light Installations on the Relationship between Body and Soul, October 23 and 24, Topoi House Dahlem

№ 314/2015 from Oct 19, 2015

The relationship between a soul understood to be immaterial and immortal and the physical and perishable human body as considered in philosophy, theology, and literature from antiquity to the 18th century will be addressed in a workshop on October 23 and 24 at Freie Universität. The workshop is being organized by the Excellence Cluster Topoi in cooperation with the Collaborative Research Centre Transformations of Antiquity of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. In addition to the workshop itself, there will also be three light installations by the artist Lena Gätjens that pick up on the theme of the relationship between soul and body in the medium of light. The workshop is open to the public, and admission is free; registration is requested by email to The light installations may be viewed on Friday, October 23 between 5 and 6 p.m. in the Topoi House Dahlem, when the artist will introduce her work. Following the workshop, they will be installed in the Topoi House in Mitte.

The presentations at the workshop will start with the allegorical representation of a car for souls in Plato's Phaedrus and address both ancient ideas of a vehicle for souls (ochêma) as well as their reception as redemption, astral, or glorified body in the philosophical and theological texts of the Middle Ages and the modern era. The workshop was organized by Dr des. Bettina Bohle (Excellence Cluster Topoi) and PD Dr. Lutz Bergemann (Freie Universität Berlin, Collaborative Research Center “Transformations of Antiquity”).

The accompanying light installations by Lena Gätjens deal with the workshop topic from an artistic perspective: Details of light and vision are combined with material details. The focus is on the engagement of the tangible and intangible – starting from the mode of action of the light, depending on the nature of an object to break at light, to pass through it, or to be reflected. Light becomes a central metaphor not only for cognitive processes in general, but also for ancient and modern ideas about the relationship between body and soul.

Lena Gätjens studied stage design in Graz and architectural lighting design at the Hochschule Wismar. She has been working as a freelance set and costume designer in the theater and in independent productions since 2006, and since 2013 her artistic focus has been on light installations and illustrations.

The Excellence Cluster Topoi is a research network of Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in cooperation with the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the German Archaeological Institute, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

Further Information

Time and Location

  • Friday, October 23, 2015, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, October 24, 9:30 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.
  • Freie Universität Berlin, Topoi Haus Dahlem, Hittorfstraße 18, 14195 Berlin; subway station: Thielplatz (U3).

Viewing the Light Installations

  • Friday, October 23, 2015, 5 to 6 p.m.
  • Following the workshop, the installations may be seen in the Topoi House in Mitte (Hannoversche Straße 6, 10099 Berlin). For details, please refer to the website


  • Dr. Nina Diezemann, Excellence Cluster Topoi, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel. +49 30 838-73190, Email:

Link to the Workshop Program