JOURNAL DER KÜNSTE 12
W HAT WE REMEMBER PHOTOGRAPHY PLUS DYNAMITE URBAINABLE/STADTHALTIG DUNKELDEUTSCHLAND
ENGLISH EDITION MARCH 2020
P. 52 WHITE DIMENSIONS, REVISITED
DUNKELDEUTSCHLAND: FIVE MEMORIES FROM THE SOCIAL UNCONSCIOUS
Katharina Warda P. 4 URBAINABLE/STADTHALTIG
HOW TO SUSTAIN THE FREEDOM OF THE CITY IN TIMES OF CLIMATE CRISIS Tim Rieniets, Matthias Sauerbruch, and Jörn Walter
“EVEN FRIDAY’S SUN SETS”
RETURNING HOME, SOLAR ECLIPSE: STROPHES ON THE DEATH OF GYÖRGY KONRÁD
P. 32 CARTE BLANCHE
FROM PURPOSE TO POETRY: THE CHANGING LIBRARY
P. 27 MEMORY
P. 8 MEMORY
INTRODUCTION Johannes Odenthal
Francine Houben / Mecanoo PP. 9–11, 15–16, 21–22 P. 60 NEWS FROM THE ARCHIVES
TORCH MARCH WITH THE BLOB, OR: WE AND OTHER PHANTOMS
WAR ON THE AIRWAVES: HEDDA ZINNER’S WORKS FOR COMINTERN RADIO
THE BODY AS THE MEDIUM OF INDIVIDUAL, COLLECTIVE, AND CULTURAL MEMORY
P. 42 NEWS FROM THE ARCHIVES: FINDS
THERE IS OFTEN MORE TRUTH IN EXAGGERATION THAN IN THE COMPULSION TO MAKE SOMETHING REALISTIC
“I AM VERY POOR AT TYPING, BUT PUNCTUAL IN COMPLETION”
WHAT WAS THE EAST GERMANS’ POLITICAL ENERGY, AND HOW DID IT END?
BROTHERS IN ARMS: THE MAKING AND MIGRATION OF BLACK AND WHITE UNITY
“EACH VISITOR PAYS EIGHT GROSCHEN … AND LADIES ARE ADMITTED FREE OF CHARGE.” THE EXHIBITION CATALOGUES OF THE AKADEMIE DER KÜNSTE, 1786–1943
Susanne Nagel and Werner Heegewaldt
P. 49 LABOR BEETHOVEN 2020
P. 66 FREUNDESKREIS
A SPACE FOR IDEAS TO UNFOLD
STRIKING A CHORD: THE DISCOGRAPHIC BEETHOVEN
P. 44 PHOTOGRAPHY PLUS DYNAMITE
“A STRANGE, ALMOST FANTASTIC MOMENT OF POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY” Volker Braun
Caspar Johannes Walter
The Akademie der Künste will be following the themes of Europe, cultural memory, and sustainability in 2020. In issue 12 of the Journal, we provide insights into the specific projects for the year, along side discussions that follow on from last year’s themes and are geared toward platforms for 2021. “urbainable/stadthaltig” is the central exhibition project of the Architecture Section. It is dedicated to the concept of density, and formulated using the example of the European city. Matthias Sauerbruch, Jörn Walter, and Tim Rieniets outline the city’s poten tial for the vision of sustainably developing social life. This topic is also addressed in the Carte Blanche section, based on the exemplary influence a rethink of the library as institutional and transformative space can have on urban fields of conflict. This is what the designs and buildings of the Academy member Francine Houben and her architectural firm Mecanoo stand for. Thanks to the members of the Academy, the archives, and what will soon be 325 years of institutional history, the Akademie der Künste is one of the central institutions of remembrance and cul tural memory. Today, cultural memory is not only a historical sub ject but also a politically contested territory and, seen from a global perspective, a principle leitmotif of the contemporary art scene. Between national narratives and individual stories, the arts become a place of remembrance, emancipation, and resistance. In a lecture given by Aleida Assmann in September, on the occasion of the dance project “What the Body Remembers”, the central focus be came an awareness that the body’s memory constantly updates incarnate knowledge, the canon of cultural memory, and brings the “excarnate” space of the archives and museums to life. A prime example of this is Ixmucané Aguilar’s photographic work on the descendants of the Herero and Nama genocide in Namibia, which forms her final thesis at the Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin. German history since the end of the GDR serves to show how memory and justice relate to the current situation in Germany. Klaus Wolfram, one of the co-founders of the Neues Forum (New Forum) citizens’ movement in September 1989, asks where the energy of the political awakening among East Germans has gone after thirty years. It becomes clear how a dominant West German narrative in the media displaced and disempowered other per spectives. This is also what the personal essay “Dunkeldeutschland” (“Dark Germany”) by the young writer and staff member of the Academy Katharina Warda is about. Volker Braun’s speech follow ing the controversial debates at the General Assembly of the
Academy, to which Jeanine Meerapfel had invited Klaus Wolfram, shows that collective memories continue to have an effect, deter mining the present even beyond state and media representation. Michael Ruetz’s photo series on the transformation of East Berlin over the last fifty years documents the described process of displacing historical, collective, and individual experience. The great success of the Helga Paris exhibition in the rooms at Pariser Platz (presented in the last issue) was also based on these breaks and shifts in social self-perception or reality: the event was per ceived as a strong aesthetic response among the celebrations marking thirty years since the fall of the Wall. With Enis Maci’s contribution on the rhetoric of the new right; political resistance using artistic means in the work of John Heartfield, whose exhibition at Pariser Platz provides a unique over view of the techniques of political intervention; and a look back at Christoph Schlingensief’s filmic interventions, based on the exam ple of a finding from the archives, the Academy examines the polit ical potential of artistic methods from a historical and contem porary perspective. The Academy’s “Labor Beethoven 2020” project – linking the innovative power of Beethoven and the current music scene through international cooperation between young composers and musi cians from Tel Aviv, Thessaloniki, Basel, and Berlin – will draw to a close this March. Robert Kudielka examines the material of the colour white as the starting point for a research project by the Visual Arts Section, which will lead to an exhibition in the autumn of 2021. We remember the composer Georg Katzer, who founded the Academy’s S tudio for Electroacoustic Music, and György Konrád, a major European writer who had a decisive impact on the Academy in the 1990s as its president. They both died in 2019. In the “News from the Archives” section, we introduce the almost forgotten writer Hedda Zinner, the filmmaker Eberhard Fechner, and the newly digitised exhibition catalogues of the Akad emie der Künste, 1786–1943. Last but not least, as a member of the Society of Friends, Pres ident of Deutsche Grammophon Clemens Trautmann remembers the epochal recordings of Beethoven’s works. Johannes Odenthal Programme Director of the Akademie der Künste
URBAINABLE / STADTHALTIG HOW TO SUSTAIN THE FREEDOM OF THE CITY IN TIMES OF CLIMATE CRISIS Tim Rieniets, Matthias Sauerbruch, and Jörn Walter
THE HYPOTHESIS: The city itself offers the systems that will
enable its sustainable development Since 2011, the Architecture Section has shown major exhibitions at the Akademie der Künste that have dealt with the tendencies of the European city at the beginning of the 21st century. “Return of Landscape” documented the changes in the relationship between city and countryside, critically appraised general urbanisation, and called for a new relationship to “urban nature”. “Culture:City” exa mined the various roles of cultural buildings in the context of the transition from the second to the third and fourth industrial age. The exhibition focused on the role of architectural interventions as catalysts, intensifiers, and guarantors of urban life. “Demo:Polis. The Right to Public Space” focused on the changing nature of pub lic space in the age of neo-liberalism and “social media”, calling for new urban spaces as sites of cohabitation and resistance. “urbainable/stadthaltig” (5 September – 22 November 2020), the fourth exhibition, will deal with the role of the city and its archi tecture in times of new challenges such as climate change, digi talisation, demographic change, and the dissolution of stable social relationships. Its hypothesis is that the city itself holds the great est potential for its own reform and sustainable development. The city has been and continues to be a motor of civilisation. Its development is existentially linked to the refinement of social, cultural, and technical systems. Today, we need this motor more urgently than ever. The challenges our societies are facing mani fest themselves primarily in cities and must also be solved there. These include the economic, cultural, and social differences result
Berlin, former Tempelhof airport, 2017
ing from immigration, demographic change, and the emancipation of the individual. In addition, everything is overshadowed by the fundamental question of how to deal with climate change and its effects. The seemingly minimal goal of keeping the planet’s aver age temperature rise between 2 and 1.5 degrees Celsius neces sarily requires radical changes to the fundamental parameters of urban life. The ethical foundations that have made the city in Europe so attractive since antiquity – the promises of economic indepen dence, social cohesion, individual freedom – can only be secured through change. How these changes become manifest in built space is the central question that architects and planners are presently confronted with: What does comprehensive change mean for the built environment, how can this change be managed and cast into concrete form? To what extent can these reforms be promoted by architecture and urban planning? How can we compensate for the inevitable reductions that accompany the necessary changes in lifestyle, how can new technologies be integrated, new forms of behaviour be practised and ultimately sublimated into a functio ning culture? The exhibition will consist of two sections, a general section and a project review. In the general section, we will debate six leit motifs as general parameters of current urban development and architectural intervention. The plan is to create a photo installa tion, where the leitmotifs will be identified by texts and translated into life-sized installations using the photographs of the Berlin artist Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk. The second section of the exhibition will have a format simi lar to a biennial. Each participating team will be provided with a gallery space of approx. 30–40 m² and can design this space according to their own needs. We expect about thirty-six contri butions, primarily by members of the Architecture Section and one or more guests of their choice. The contributions will be arranged by the curatorial team in an exhibition embodying diverse and numerous facets of the debate on the city in terms of both content and form. The exhibition will thus allow the viewer two perspectives: an inductive approach, where the project example suggests overar ching principles, and a deductive approach, where basic strate gies point to the solutions in individual cases.
TIM RIENIETS is Professor of Urban and Spatial Development at the Institute of Urban Design and Planning (IES), Leibniz Universität Hannover. MATTHIAS SAUERBRUCH, an architect, has been a member of the Architecture Section of the Akademie der Künste since 2006. He has been director of the section since 2018. JÖRN WALTER, a city planner, has been a member of the Architecture Section of the Akademie der Künste since 2000. He has been deputy director of the section since 2018.
LEITMOTIFS: These are the basic strategies within which specific
tactics help to maintain the city’s promises of freedom, even under the changing conditions of the present. The leitmotifs are:
THINK NATURE The now 100-year-old vision of the dissolution of cities into the natural landscape seems to have come true in a rather problematic way. Today, the city consists of a network of infrastructures that covers entire regions – sometimes more, some times less populated. Accordingly, we are now striving for the rational organisation of the regional city and a balance between natural landscape and built-up areas. In this, the preservation of agri cultural land as well as green recreational areas has to be considered part of the overall urban organism. The industrial city was seen as a machine, the automobile city as a metabolism. The climate city must see itself as a diverse landscape. Its infra structures have to aim for climate neutrality and – at the same time – provide a sensually stimulating place to live. This includes the synergy and dia logue between inorganic and vegetal architecture, neighbourhood and park, building and garden, apartment and terrace. Plant growth is a natural way to counteract extreme conditions in urban centres – in terms of both air pollution and sum mer heat island effect – as well as extracting CO₂ from the atmosphere.
The preservation of natural areas requires, in turn, the densification of built-up areas. In terms of structural density, we do not neces sarily see a problem in Western Europe today – unlike at the beginning of the 20th century – but rather a potential contribution to problem solving: the dense city enables the energy optimisation of infrastructure systems, it func tions as a catalyst for behavioural change and as an incubator for new social situations. Where traditional family and work relationships have been eroded over the years, new inter personal contact emerges from sheer proximity. In contrast to the heroic visions at the beginning of the 20th century, contemporary urban concepts are characterised by a certain diversity and pragmatism. The mixture of life, work, and leisure is as much a part of these ideas as the cohabitation of different social strata, religious and cultural communities, and lifestyles and their expression.
The construction sector currently produces around 40 per cent of all greenhouse gases re leased into the atmosphere. Part of the solution to climate problems will undoubtedly be achieved through strategic and technical optimisation in the construction and operation of buildings and in frastructure. The priority given to urban planning and architecture according to the criteria of sustainable development leads to a new paradigm that gives new directions to modernist strategies. Experiments with the harvesting of renewable energies, the conscious use of ecologically sound materials and processes, the introduction of circular economies, and the reduction of demand lead to new solutions. Just as the European city has been transformed time and again under the in fluence of technology, for example in the military sector or during the various stages of mechani sation and industrialisation, today we also find ourselves in a state of rapidly changing technolo gical development, the results of which, in the sense of updating the existing culture, are still to be processed.
Sustainable development can only succeed in stable social conditions that cultivate a certain sense of community. In times of expanded mobility, increasingly contact- and frictionless infras tructure, and virtual socialisation through internet networks, it seems more difficult than ever to build communities around a specific location. This means that the city must offer spaces dedicated to encounter, shared experience, and the devel opment of a collective identity. If, according to Hannah Arendt, contemporary life – characterised above all by work and consumption – leads in evitably to feelings of abandonment, then in times of “supercapitalism” and fluctuating working conditions, the urban stage, the public concern, is needed more than ever to make the manifold elements of society visible and bring them to gether. These spaces can be found in the central locations of collective urbanity as well as the multiple transitory situations of contemporary urban agglomeration.
WORKING WITH THE EXISTING STRUCTURES
FAST NETWORK – SLOW CITY
In the context of worldwide communication and the resulting globalisation of economic and social relations, a previously unknown extension of our horizons is emerging; but for many people there is also an increased need for demarcation and identity-building. For many Europeans, their own city – beyond its function as a place to live and work – serves as one such vehicle of differentiation, as it represents a mirror and a container of their (cultural) history. From an energy point of view too, the preser vation, adaptation, and extension of existing structures is by far the most intelligent approach to building in the city. This applies not only to inner cities with listed buildings but also to the her itage of garden cities, suburbs, and satellite towns. The built fabric contains so much “grey energy” and CO₂ that its demolition can only be offset by new energy-efficient buildings in the very long term – if at all. But the reaffirmation of one’s own history alone does not create a future. Therefore, in addi tion to the meaningful optimisation of what exists, the updating and reinterpretation of one’s own identity remains an essential task of con temporary building culture.
In many respects, the automobile city has reached its limits. Car traffic takes up too much space, causes air pollution, and produces greenhouse gases. Alternative systems must make mobility more efficient, must be coordinated and offer the right means of transport for the right distances and speeds. Sufficient space must be dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists. Also, once the number of cars can be reduced, the potential of spatial reserves needs to be explored. At the same time, the networking of cities and districts must be optimised in an appropriate form. This applies not only to mobility networks but also to the infra structure for communication and data transmission. If economies can operate (at least in part) with out factories and heavy goods vehicles, other pri orities for urban infrastructures will emerge.
PARTICIPATING OFFICES: Auer Weber, Stuttgart / Barkow Leibinger, Berlin / Bollinger + Grohmann Ingenieure, Frankfurt am Main / Brandlhuber +, Berlin / Michael Bräuer, Rostock / Brenne Architekten, Berlin / Werner Durth, Darmstadt / Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes, Montreuil / Gigon/Guyer Architekten, Zürich / gmp (Volkwin Marg), Hamburg / Grüntuch Ernst Architekten, Berlin / Hager Partner AG, Zürich / Peter Haimerl. Architektur, München / Thomas Herzog Architekten, München / Hoidn Wang Partner, Berlin / KCAP (Kees Christiaanse), Zürich / Keller Damm Kollegen GmbH Landschaftsarchitekten Stadtplaner, München / Lacaton & Vassal Architectes, Paris / Pierre Laconte, Kortenberg bei Brüssel / léonwohlhage Gesellschaft von Architekten mbH, Berlin / hg merz, Berlin / Günter Nagel und Partner, Hannover / Florian Nagler Architekten, München / Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos, Madrid / Arhitektuuribüroo R-Konsult (Irina Raud), Tallinn / Ian Ritchie Architects, London / Sauerbruch Hutton, Berlin / Schlaich, Bergemann und Partner, Berlin, Stuttgart / Schulitz Architekten GmbH, Braunschweig / Thomas Sieverts, München / Snøhetta (Kjetil Trædal Thorsen), Oslo / Staab Architekten GmbH, Berlin / Szyszkowitz-Kowalski Architekten, Graz / Christiane Thalgott, München / Transsolar Energietechnik (Thomas Auer), Stuttgart / Marco Venturi, Venedig / Jörn Walter, Hamburg
JOURNAL DER KÜNSTE 12
M R E
O Y M
E O R E M M E M O R E M R M O E R M M O E M 8
Y Y Y
In February, the Junge Akademie fellows presented their current work under the title “Where The Story Unfolds”. Between national narratives and individual stories, the arts become a space of remem brance, emancipation, and resistance. Artists such as Franziska Pflaum and Artemiy Shokin examine the mechanisms and limits of media narratives. In Center Shift #01, the Kurdish-German artist Cemile Sahin allows the protagonists of her installation to stage a re-enactment of a murder that left no visual trace, but rather only exists in the images of the different narratives. The direct, intimate camerawork simulates an Instagram story; for the viewers, the installation becomes a giant tablet. Social media is turned into a two-dimensional variation of oral traditions. In these artistic approaches by a young generation to possible contemporary modes of narration, the virtual space becomes an extension of reality in which to experiment, while the self-conception of archives and museums continues to be largely based on storing analogue objects. What Jan Gerchow, the director of the Histor isches Museum Frankfurt am Main, describes as structural amne sia applies here. Every selection, every collection, every archive must necessarily exclude objects, stories, and cultural memory. This is highlighted by a change of perspective; by feminism, post- colonial discourse, or the recognition of the absence of minorities. Aleida Assmann goes so far as to describe the archives and mu seums as “excarnated” memory stores, which are clearly associated with hegemonic supremacy. The fact that UNESCO opened up a new perspective on the incarnate knowledge of the Global South, on embodied knowledge, by introducing the concept of intangible cultural heritage in the early 2000s, was of key importance and has radically changed our understanding of cultural memory. Terms such as the performative turn, repertoire, repetition, or canon refer to a living culture of remembrance. The example of German history during the Cold War era, espe cially the period around and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, high lights these aspects of domination by the hegemonic structures of memory. This is addressed in contributions by Klaus Wolfram, Katharina Warda, and Volker Braun. Photo essays by Michael Ruetz and Ixmucané A guilar document the transformation processes of cultural memory in the present using the example of centre and periphery, of Germany’s capital city and the colonial past. For the spring of 2021, the Akademie der Künste is planning a thematic focus on what cultural memory can mean for the future of societies in Europe and all over the world. It is about topics of justice, the displacement and transformation of traumas, and mem ory as the basis for a sustainable future on this planet. Cultural di versity is just as important as biodiversity and is vital for a humane perspective on societies. It is about the critical reading of our own narrative and the effective transformation of historical stores of knowledge for the future. Johannes Odenthal
MICHAEL RUETZ – TIME MACHINE
Akademieplatz, Gendarmenmarkt 1077.00 11 April 1966
Gendarmenmarkt 1077.02 11 April 2016
MICHAEL RUETZ, artist, Berlin. Studies: Sinology, Japanese Studies. Otto Steinert Prize. Villa Massimo Prize. Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Production of more than 40 books for the American and international markets. C4 professorship for communication design at the Braunschweig University of Art. Member of the Akademie der Künste since 1996. The project will be published in 2023 in the form of an exhibition and a monograph.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs (East Germany), Marx-Engels-Platz, Schloßplatz 313.0 2 February 1992
Ministry for Foreign Affairs (East Germany), Marx-Engels-Platz, Schloßplatz 313A.03 13 October 1994
Ministry for Foreign Affairs (East Germany), Marx-Engels-Platz, Schloßplatz 313.11 6 July 1998
Ministry for Foreign Affairs (East Germany), Marx-Engels-Platz, Schloßplatz 313A.26 3 February 2016
JOURNAL DER KÜNSTE 12
THE BODY AS THE MEDIUM OF INDIVIDUAL,
AND CULTURAL MEMORY Aleida Assmann
INDIVIDUAL MEMORY: I- AND ME-MEMORY In a speech given by Günter Grass in Vilnius in 2000, the author vividly described what comes to his mind when he observes himself remembering. In this text he shares with us important insights into the dynamics of perso nal memory: “I remember ... or am reminded by something that stands in my way, has left its scent, or in long-forgotten letters with deceptive keywords was waiting to be remembered. These and other pitfalls trip us up. Some thing emerges from the sidelines that cannot be imme diately named. Speechless objects nudge us, and things that we thought had been surrounding us indifferently for years divulge secrets. How embarrassing!”1 Memory, he shows, is not summoned at will, but comes when it wants to, or rather when it is prompted by exter nal stimuli. Memories are “triggered”, as we say today; when and where this happens cannot be planned. Mem ory therefore functions similarly to a divining rod that dips and begins to vibrate at certain sites and locations. What is actually called up and rises to the surface in the process can never be anticipated. Starting from this quotation, I would like to propose a distinction between “I-memory” or voluntary memory and “me-memory” or involuntary memory. The I-memory is the memory that we inhabit, that we can control, and that we command more or less effortlessly, while the me- memory, on the other hand, is the somatic memory that extends to the body and is stimulated by sensory stim uli. The narrator and theorist of this me-memory, Marcel Proust, in his novel In Search of Lost Time immortalised a certain flavour, deriving in his case from a madeleine pastry dipped in lime-blossom tea. All Proust readers are now familiar with precisely this flavour, without being able to reproduce the actual Proust experience as described in masterly fashion in his novel. One of the images he used is an anchor under water, which is lifted and slowly rises to the surface of consciousness. With his description of the mémoire involontaire, the me-memory, Proust revealed to us that not only the brain but also the
whole body can become a medium of memory. Grass, of course, knew exactly to whom he owed this insight. That is why he added a Proust homage to his text and invented his companion piece to the madeleine episode: “Even on journeys to places that lie behind us, have been destroyed, and now sound strange, memory sud denly haunts us. This is what befell me in the spring of 1958, when for the first time after the war I visited the city of Gdansk, slowly re-emerging out of the cleared rubble, and casually hoped to come across some remain ing traces of Danzig. […] When I visited the former fish ing village of Brösen and noticed that the lapping of the Baltic waves was unchanged, I suddenly found myself standing outside the locked-up public baths and the boarded-up kiosk alongside the entrance. And immedi ately I saw the cheapest delight of my childhood froth ing up: sherbet powder with raspberry, lemon, and wood ruff flavour, which had been available at that kiosk in sachets for a few pfennigs. But no sooner did I experi ence the fizz of the remembered drink than it immedi ately began to conjure up stories, almost unbelievable tales, that had merely been waiting for the right cue. The harmless and unassuming water-soluble sherbet pow der set off a chain reaction in my head: the efferves cence of early romance, this repeated and then never again experienced thrill.”2 This text stresses the difference in time and clearly distinguishes between the place of youth on the one hand and the writer’s return on the other. It takes a break and a certain period of time before the unconscious memory can take effect. Several years lie between the end of the war and Grass’s first trip back to the place of his child hood in search of lost time. Such surprises and unset tling experiences can only be triggered by something that was not constantly present in perception or availa ble to consciousness, but that was radically withdrawn, that had undergone major changes and remained dormant for a long time in the latency of a “safekeeping oblivion”, where it remained fresh and well preserved.
TRAUMATIC MEMORY AND ITS TRANSMISSION: THE POSTMEMORY OF THE SECOND GENERATION The examples of Grass and Proust suggest that remem bering is an isolated and solipsistic event, encased in the subjectivity of a great author. But this is by no means the case. The sociologist Maurice Halbwachs, to whom we owe a theory of social memory from the 1920s, stressed that a completely solitary person could not develop any memory at all. He raised the important ques tion of the social conditions of memory, an example being the recollections in family memory. It is indisputable that in family memory the recollections of individual mem bers are enhanced by tales and anecdotes and backed up by photographs and other documents. Family mem ory is created not only by instruction but also by every day cultural practices.3 In the case of a family, however, whose parents have been traumatised by experiences of extreme violence, the trauma can also be transmitted to the children in another way, namely precisely by not telling the story and thus via silent signals. This was the experience of the journalist and author Helen Epstein, who as a young woman noticed at some point that as a child of Holocaust survivors she had grown up under completely different circumstances than other young people around her. She compiled a list of the special features of family commu nication and published it in an article,4 which immediately elicited a lively response from readers around the world, who recognised themselves in Epstein’s sketch. This was the beginning of a lively Jewish self-conception discourse about the “Second Generation” (2G) – a label that many well-known artists (such as Sonia Pilcer and Art Spiege lman) then appropriated for themselves. The literary scholar Marianne Hirsch, herself a mem ber of the “Second Generation”, has theoretically ex tended these observations and investigated the trans mission of body memory from the first to the second and third generation with reference to the treatment of pho tographs. Photographs of family members, who did not survive the Holocaust acquire an almost magical status because the presence of the picture draws attention to the person’s painful absence. The photographs thus take the place of the deceased family members who are essentially present at the table. An aura of silence has formed around their violent deaths, which means that from the very beginning the children are not included in a family narrative in the sense of “conversational remem bering”, but are first confronted with gaps and secrets in which the trauma can take hold of their imagination. “Postmemory characterizes the experience of those who grew up dominated by narratives that preceded their birth, whose own belated stories are evacuated by sto ries of the previous generation shaped by traumatic events that can be neither understood or recreated.”5 For this form of transgenerational transmission of a body memory, Hirsch has coined the term “postmemory”. In her definition, she underlines the paradoxical charac ter of the term with a number of contradictions, such as the simultaneity of distance and proximity, memory and imagination, and “mediated” and “direct”. “In my reading, postmemory is distinguished from memory by generational distance and from history by deep personal connection. Postmemory is a powerful and very particular form of memory precisely because its connection to its object or source is mediated not
JOURNAL DER KÜNSTE 12
through recollection but through an imaginative invest ment and creation. This is not to say that memory itself is unmediated, but that it is more directly connected to the past.”6 Hirsch’s term “postmemory” refers to the transition from the experiential generation to those born thereaf ter, who are still locked into the living circulation of com municative memory as long as they participate in family narratives or family silence. Depending on the context, the status of a photograph changes. “This is the transi tion from the representation of a person to a ghost to a pure picture.”7 Hirsch registers different levels of inten sity in the photographs; within a framework of interac tion and communication, they hold a familiar person in memory; in a traumatised family the images become ghosts; and outside the family memory the memory value disappears and the photographs become pure images. Their close connection to the trauma makes the photo graphs representatives and icons of the dead family members. Such photographs are ritual points of refer ence for memory, but as the last trace of a violently extin guished life they also possess a special evidential char acter. The image becomes a stand-in for the lost person and thus gains a ghostly status between absence and presence.
EXCARNATION AND INCARNATION: TWO THEORIES OF CULTURAL MEMORY 1979 AND 2003 Cultures have the task of saving information that is important for the identity of a group beyond the threshold of its members’ deaths. These are long-term projects that are not launched overnight and usually do not vanish overnight either. They provide orientation, facilitate belonging, and open up a referential horizon that can be used, modified, abolished, and re-created in different ways by the members of the group. Sustainability is therefore not only a desideratum for the treatment of ecological resources, but also the form of existence of cultural traditions. In this regard, cultural resources are not reproduced and transmitted as a matter of course any more than natural resources are conserved. I now propose that, just as ecological thinking only emerged against the background of the advancing destruction of natural resources, the concept of cultural memory only emerged with a growing awareness of the precarious historical, political, and media conditions of tradition. It was above all three thought-provoking trig gers that put Jan Assmann and myself on this path. The first trigger was a sentence from a speech that the Malian writer and ethnologist Amadou Hampâté Bâ delivered to UNESCO in 1960. It read: “With every old man who dies
in Africa, a library burns.”8 With this, he suddenly alerted the world public to the precarious status of so-called “memory cultures”, which cannot rely on long-term insti tutions such as monuments, traditions, museums, and archives, but consist solely in the performance of repe tition and in the elaborate practice of transmission from generation to generation. All at once it became clear that modernisation and globalisation accelerate not only the extinction of animal species, but also the loss of cultures, languages, and traditions. In the 1960s and 1970s, many tribal societies tried to save their traditions from extinc tion through written documentation. In post-colonial times, tribal societies have had to use the medium of their colonisers to safeguard their own existence and identity for the future. The second trigger was the introduction of digitisation in the 1980s and 1990s. Electronic writing has profoundly revolutionised our conception of writing and storage and ushered in a future that will continue to keep us moving. The third trigger was the return of Hol ocaust commemoration after four decades of collective silence. This trigger was also linked to insight into the fragility of memory and the urgent need to support it. These three triggers have made new fundamental ques tions the subject of ongoing reflection for us. Using the term “cultural memory” we have since been investigating the media conditions of cultural transmis sion and the metabolism of remembering and forgetting within societies, nations, and religions. In the beginning, the distinction was made between oral and written, or rather between cultures using written records and oral memory cultures without such records. “Schrift und Gedächtnis” (“Writing and Memory”) was therefore the title of the first publication of our working group, which dates back to a conference at ZIF in Bielefeld in 1979. Because our expertise lay in ancient history and literary studies, we found the way to cultural memory through texts. We examined writing as an external memory stor age medium and asked: what happens to a culture when it shifts from the oral to the written record? Plato’s Phaedrus became a key text in this connection. Taking this as our starting point, we continued to pursue the memory potential of written cultures such as canon and censorship, text and commentary, at some point forget ting the origins of our question in Africa. We set out on the path of “excarnation”, with its external memories such as libraries and archives, and more or less lost sight of the path of “incarnation”, the embodied culture. In 2003, UNESCO , with its new concept of “intangi ble cultural heritage”, initiated a decisive process of Western decolonising and the emancipation of memory cultures, putting an end to the flagrant culturally impe rialist imbalance. Until then, the quality of cultures had been measured by using the material legacy of Western cultures as a yardstick. Memory cultures had not scored well with
Photographs are ritual points of reference for memory, but as the last trace of a violently extinguished life they also possess a special evidential character. 14
UNESCO in terms of cultural heritage, because they had no museums, archives, or libraries and therefore, as it was said, no history, but only griots, bards, and folklore as physically precarious and ephemeral carriers of tra ditions. With the category of “intangible cultural herit age” this disparity changed. It was finally recognised that there are not only excarnated but also incarnated media of cultural memory, and that cultures are also upheld over generations through performance and prac tice, through singing and dancing, music-making and storytelling, cooking and pottery, rites and festivals. The book that initiated the rethinking at UNESCO and the turn to intangible cultural heritage is The Archive and the Repertoire by Diana Taylor.9 In June 2018, I had the opportunity to talk to Taylor at the University of Zurich. A student of mine, a junior professor there, organised the meeting. For me it was an opportunity to revisit an abandoned path of our research after almost forty years. Taylor teaches perfor mance studies at NYU and grew up in northern Mexico. She comes from a white family, but since her childhood she has experienced the cultural divide and the political power imbalance between the northern and southern hemispheres of the Americas. Her research therefore also contributes to the decolonising of Central and South America and the constitution of a socio-political counter- memory. For anyone who has archives has political power; archives are a weapon of colonialism. When the German Post Office still existed and advertised its services, it had a slogan “Wer schreibt, bleibt”, meaning that the person who writes creates a written legacy. Writing afforded access to elites and defined national identity; those who had no archives remained invisible and fell silent in the history of the vanquishers. While Jan and I explored the media of cultural memory on the threshold of the digital revolution, and immersed ourselves in the study of excarnated cultures, Taylor explored forms of embodied cultural memory. Her key concepts are “performance” and “repertoire”. She asks: how does rehearsed performance transmit cultural memory and identity? 10 The term “performance”, as it did for Hampâté Bâ, creates its own episteme: it stands for a genuine form of knowledge, of world experience and world-making, as well as of transmission and tradition: “Writing is one thing and knowledge is another. Writ ing is the photography of knowledge, but it is not knowl edge itself. Knowledge is a light which is in man. It is the heritage of all the ancestors knew and have trans mitted to us as seed, just as the mature baobab is con tained in its seed.”11 The concept of performance has opened up new per spectives for many subjects and fundamentally trans formed our concept of culture. Its astonishing produc tivity certainly has to do with its broad spectrum of meanings, ranging from the theatrical and spectacular – as an exquisite show for the audience – to forms of general participation in social scripts and habituated actions on the stage of everyday life. The concept of per formance has shaken up our hierarchies: priority is now accorded to performance that shapes and reshapes collective life, and only then comes written production that facilitates and accentuates individual expression. Another new perspective of this approach is non- archival incarnated transmission and transmission sys tems. One such incarnated storage system is repertoire. Performance is at the same time a powerful act of transfer;
MICHAEL RUETZ – TIME MACHINE
Palast der Republik, Humboldt Forum 312B.01 2 February 1991
Palast der Republik, Humboldt Forum 312B.16 22 October 2006
Palast der Republik, Humboldt Forum 312B.24 31 October 2010
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Potsdamer Platz 146.03 26 May 1990
Potsdamer Platz 146.10 9 February 1998
Potsdamer Platz 146.15 1 May 2006
communicating social knowledge, memory, and a sense of shared identity through repeated – or, as Richard Schechner calls it – “twice-behaved behavior”. Repertoire is an embodied collective store of knowledge that indi viduals in a group can access. One can participate in it actively by singing a song with all its verses, for exam ple, or passively by humming along to the melody.
BRIDGES, CONNECTIONS, AND NEW ISSUES The dichotomy of archive and repertoire lends itself well to politicisation and to confrontation between the colo nisers and the colonised. But this does not mean that it has exhausted its significance. Taylor has written against the expulsion of the body from Western culture and argued for the recognition and restoration of an expres sive embodied culture. In doing so, however, she has also retrieved the body-oriented side of Western culture from oblivion. The gulf runs between the written and the spo ken word and between the archive or museum as a sta ble sign carrier for texts, documents, monuments, and artefacts, on the one hand, and the ephemeral repertoire, such as spoken language, dance, sport, ritual, on the other. This gulf not only separates the cultures that use writing from those that do not, but also marks a tech nical turning point in recording practice in all cultures. Before the invention of the recording of music and moving images, all performance was also excluded from Wes tern cultural memory. Clara Schumann, for example, was a world-class pianist who travelled from performance to performance, delighting her audience on stage for sixty years of her life – but nothing of this art has been han ded down to us. Today, the gulf between excarnated and incarnated culture is no longer so deep. The term per formance leaves room for body and writing, for perfor mance and recording. Certainly, a video recording is not a performance in the narrower sense; it is a document of such a performance. But it is only with the help of these documents that we can write a history of perfor mance. On the basis of these new sources a new acade mic discipline emerges that can build a history and theory of the ephemeral arts. It is important that this history is not limited to professional knowledge but also becomes part of the general consciousness, interest, and cultu ral memory.
SAFEGUARDING THE ENDURING AND THE REPEATED In fact, cultural memory encompasses both: forms of safeguarding for the enduring and the repeated. The Russian cultural semioticians Yuri Lotman and Boris Uspensky have defined cultures as “the non-hereditary memory of a collective”. This is why they are a long-term project, a continuum of performing, learning, storing, and passing on. This cultural memory must not be confused with the storehouse of fixed documents (files, images, books, artefacts), for it comes into being and exists only in continual exchange and renewal. The distinction between the forms of safeguarding for the enduring and those for the repeated is already implicit in my distinc tion between archive and canon: canon is the narrow selection of what is performed and must always be repeated; archive is the stable framework of a tradition
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that is collected and preserved and survives through time even without retrieval and repetition. I am not talk ing here about political archives that are secret and are intended to stabilise power, but about historical archives that have three characteristics: materiality, preserva tion, and accessibility. I wish to distinguish here between memory stores and recollective media. An archive is a memory store, while monuments or books are recollective media. What is chiselled in granite promises to endure, and what you have in black and white you can confidently take home with you. But this is only one side of the coin, because repetition, re-reading, updating, and renewal – this is where the dimension of Performanz comes in – are no less important for recollection. Cultural memory, like individual memory, is therefore dependent on external stimuli or “triggers”. What is permanently stored in muse ums, archives, and libraries must be triggered on certain occasions; in other words: read, exhibited, performed, staged or, in short, reactivated. Just as there are mon uments in space, there are therefore also “monuments in time”, as I call anniversaries and other commemora tive events. These periodically recall something of what is permanently stored and receding into an ever more distant past, thereby bringing it back to the conscious ness of the general public. Playing these two modes off against each other is therefore futile, for they are com plementary. Acts of repetition are simultaneously ways of refreshing and renewing memory, which is as true for the individual as it is for culture. A lively cultural memory needs the interweaving of excarnation and incarnation. What is only conserved and does not include active or passive participation exists in storage, but not yet in memory. Our storage systems have become larger and larger – Merlin Donald calls the knowledge stored on the Internet the “ESS” (External Storage System). We as humans can rely on external storage to a large extent, but we cannot outsource our memory to it. In a lecture on his monument art, Jochen Gerz stressed this emphatically: “Today we cannot let ourselves be represented by anything, and certainly not by a monument. Because, in the long run, nothing can take our place in rising up against injustice!”12
that placed this oral-physical variant of the trans mission of cultural heritage on an equal footing with Western media of cultural memory such as libraries, museums, and archives. Cf. also Andrea Rehling, “‘Kulturen unter Artenschutz’? Vom Schutz der Kulturschätze als Gemeinsames Erbe der Menschh eit zur Erhaltung kultureller Vielfalt”, Jahrbuch für Europäische Geschichte, 15 (2014), pp. 109–37. 9 Diana Taylor, The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003). 10 I distinguish performance as an art of physical expression from Performanz, the currently practised unit of such behaviour in terms of time and space. 11 A. Hampâté Bâ, “The Living Tradition”, in Joseph Ki-Zerbo, ed., Methodology and African Prehistory, General History of Africa, vol. 1 (California: James Currey, UNESCO, 1981), p. 166. 12 A lecture by Jochen Gerz given at the conference “Dy namiken des Erinnerns und Vergessens” at the Historisches Museum Frankfurt, 23–24 May 2019.
ALEIDA ASSMANN is an Anglicist, Egyptologist, and cultural theorist. The focus of her research is cultural and communicative memory. Together with Jan Assmann, she was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. Her recent publications in English include Cultural Memory and Western Civilization: Functions, Media, Archives (2011) and Shadows of Trauma: Memory and the Politics of Postwar Identity (2015). Is Time Out of Joint? On the Rise and Fall of the Modern Time Regime will be published in 2020.
1 G ünter Grass, in Martin Wälde, ed., Die Zukunft der Erinnerung (Göttingen: Steidl, 2001), pp. 27–34. 2 Ibid. p. 28. 3 “processes of remembering, forgetting and reinvent ing”. Joseph Roach, Cities of the Dead, quoted from Colin Counsell and Roberta Mock, eds, Performance, Embodiment and Cultural Memory (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), p. 7. 4 Helen Epstein, Children of the Holocaust: Conversa tions with Sons and Daughters of Survivors (New York: Penguin, 1988); and the programmatic text by Sonia Pilcer, “2G” (1987), https://www.soniapilcer .com/writingsBeta.html; and Sonia Pilcer, Holocaust Kid (New York: Persea Books, 2001). 5 Marianne Hirsch, Family Frames: Photography, Narrative, and Postmemory (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), p. 22. 6 Ibid.; emphasis added. 7 Ibid. 8 Claudia Klaffke, “Mit jedem Greis, der stirbt verbrennt eine Bibliothek”, in Aleida Assmann, Jan A ssmann, and Christoph Hardmeier, eds, Schrift und Gedächtnis (Munich: Fink, 1979), pp. 222–30. In 2003, this embodied form of tradition was revalued and protected with a new legal con cept as “intangible cultural heritage”. It thus took almost half a century for UNESCO to find criteria
Three decades after the great upheaval, one would think that the underlying developments that led to it and dic tated its form would become visible and enter public con sciousness. The opposite is the case. The Federal Repub lic continues talking to itself about East Germany – but these days no one there is listening anymore.
How did we get here? In the beginning there is a very pre cise date and even a single person. It is 10 S eptember 1989 and her name is Bärbel Bohley. For a whole year this small woman has been preparing the meeting of thirty oppositionists from the fifteen districts of the German Democratic Republic, at which the “New Forum” citizens’ movement is now being founded. (The basic idea, inciden tally, was to anchor it aside from the church and outside the opposition). Of course, such a vortex of world history as it unfolds in the autumn of 1989 has one hundred conditions and one thousand surrounding conditions – but the form of action that people (will) take was defined here. Dialogue. General discussion of all political currents in the coun try. Grass-roots democracy within the movement itself. The non-violence of both sides. This was the modus oper andi of East German democracy, and it remained the basic stance of its actions until around the end of 1993.
WHAT WAS THE EAST GERMANS’ POLITICAL ENERGY, AND HOW DID IT END? A SPEECH GIVEN AT THE MEMBERS’ MEETING OF THE AKADEMIE DER KÜNSTE, AUTUMN 2019 (8–10 NOVEMBER) Klaus Wolfram
5. The fall of the Wall, however, abruptly changed the com position and prospects of the democratic movement. Only now did the fourth, conservative quarter of the political spectrum emerge from its waiting state. With it and its impact on the third quarter (whose position I earlier described as passive rejection), the immediate political objective shifted from rebuilding the GDR to nation-state reunification. From the end of December onwards, the goal of unification dominated public opin ion in East Germany. From now on, all four quarters were actually on the move, and all political positions, whether they had built up, carried, tolerated, or suffered the GDR , were now mobilised and stood face to face. The totality of this overall involvement of East Germans can still be seen in the huge voter turnout on 18 March 1990; it was 93.4 per cent.
Where exactly in the GDR’s spectrum of political atti tudes did the breakthrough for democratisation occur? One can basically divide these positions into four quarters to understand them. Each quarter developed different powers of influence, repulsion, or cohesion at different times. From left to right, we have the following: the first quarter actively supported the socialist endeavour, the second quarter passively sympathised with it, the third quarter passively rejected it, and the fourth quarter more or less actively rejected it. If one asks about the acceptance of the socialist pro ject in this configuration, it is striking that there was a left and a conservative half of the population. The demo cratic movement began in the second quarter of the polit ical spectrum; here the 1980s opposition was at home. Its momentum immediately swept over to both the left and right, i.e. into the first and third quarters, because here too the basic stance reflected pent-up democratic needs.
There it was suddenly, the great time, the miracle year. Immediately recognisable from the fact that people car ried their heads higher, both at work and in the street, they looked each other in the face and were open to con versation. Openness began as an action in its own right. What had been founded as the New Forum captured the minds of 200,000 members within eight weeks and served as a starting point throughout the country for real political differentiation. However, that was just the polit ical movement. More than in any other country in East ern Europe, autonomy spread exponentially across the whole country, permeating all areas of life and pene trating all social structures. At first it was the demon strations, but soon the ousting of mayors, the election of new factory managers by workforce meetings, the for mation of impromptu citizens’ committees which ordered the opening of barracks gates, and precisely those Erfurt women who first closed and sealed a district adminis tration of the Ministry of State Security on 4 December. On 7 December the Central Round Table was inaugu rated in Berlin as the highest authority of the transitional period, followed by hundreds of municipal and special ised round tables at which real administrative decisions were made, until well into 1990. There was no leadership, it was self-organised. Up and down the country, citizens acted on their own initiative.
“Where had they learned to do this?” the East German sociologist Wolfgang Engler already pointedly and aptly asked twenty years ago. Apparently this could only have happened in the GDR. But how come? Because the vast majority of citizens had experienced social equal isation first-hand. This was evidently less obvious to Western eyes. Since the 1970s, there had been a shift in the GDR’s internal social balance. In response to the inflexible nationalisations, a new social behaviour developed. Since property ownership was suspended, the equalisation of people was of real consequence. In the factories, at least the bottom three or four levels of the old hierarchy were abolished, workers and employees were placed on an equal footing, even the foreman was dependent on the executive brigade; engineers, scientists, and doctors were regarded as workers among other workers. People respected each other rather than adhering to hierarchies and pursuing opportunities for career advancement. A social dynamic of its own developed, leaning toward a reversal of hierarchies and expanding the politically set framework on a daily basis, actually changing it and enabling it to be exploited for individual areas of life. The opposite of Western socialisation based on market opportunities. That was the long history of and prepa ration for 1989, and in the end only the government was left in a “niche”, and by no means the majority of the pop ulation. And the so often cited “peaceful revolution” turned out to be a powerful legacy that the German Democratic Republic passed on to its citizens.
Of those election results, most people only know the Meanwhile, the base is increasingly detaching itself from political outcome: with a 47 per cent share of the vote, the superstructure of national unity, swinging to both the East German Christian Democratic Union, adorned the left and right. Where does this come from and why with civil rights activists and backed by Helmut Kohl, was is it necessary? It did not start in its own camp, but began able to declare itself the winner. This also paved the way with the destruction of its own media and was cemented for the fastest possible state merger. by the radical privatisation strategy of the Treuhand (the However, the other election results show something trust agency organising the transition from nationalised else: 16 per cent for the Party of Democratic Socialism, to private ownership). 22 per cent for the (East German) Social Democratic Barely two years after 1990, there was not a single Party, and 5 per cent for the two citizens’ movement lists. TV station, radio station, or major newspaper in East Ger This is where the political attitudes from the first three many that was not headed by a West German editorship. quarters of the political spectrum find their expression. The general debate, political awareness, social recol Together, these votes add up to 43 per cent. Even now, lection – all the comprehension recently mastered by an at the hour of the reformers’ most profound humiliation, entire population – were transformed into disempower one can still see the two halves of the GDR populace, ment and condescension. In companies, it was no longer the left and the conservative, shining through with 43 to the workforce that set the tone, but absent owners who 47 points. set the pace. And instead of consulting each other, we I would like to add that, after thirty years of state- were now required to listen only. That was a sharp rever organised unity, the same block of 44 per cent for the sal, which was well understood and had an immediate Red-Red-Green coalition has just re-emerged in the paralytic effect. The political debate was again pushed state of Thuringia. down to the level of private conversation. That was the very state we had come from. Now began the relapse into mindsets people had bro ken away from. The anxious became anxious again, the brave lonely again, the doubter shy, the socialist stub born, the former oppositionist either a moralist or a career ist, the Babbitt a Babbitt again, and so on, and so on.
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Every single relapse thinned out East German democracy. Until 1993 – the year that nine months of grand industrial action by the potash miners of Bischofferode in the Harz Mountains sparked a desperate hope – the democracy movement held onto its basic stance of ’89; then it was scattered and defeated. Their revolution was over. So how can we sum up this course of events? Since then, on our territory, a people that had become a mod ern society once already has been in agony – to put it in sociological terms. In other, more contemporary words, the terms of political science: a society that had already become democratic in 1989/90 is in agony here.
No East German has ever scorned democracy, not before 1989 and certainly not afterwards – he only identifies it more precisely and takes it more personally. For him, it means manageable living conditions. Back then, he wanted to add a reasonable political superstructure to them. Everyone involved had to learn the hard way, some willingly, others less so. None of the four political atti tudes were spared their specific disappointments. How ever, if no real dialogue has emerged between West and East Germany in three decades, there must be structural reasons. Since the institutional prerequisites for a gen uine dialogue are held by the FGR , the malfunctioning must be sought on that side of the republic.
The buzzwords are familiar: totalitarian, second German dictatorship, unjust state, niche society, fellow-travel lerism, a society dominated all the way through, and so on. So now those who had been at best spectators on the other side of the fence were in our midst, evaluating factories, skills, people, and lives they did not know and could never have known. For example: the excessive use of “totalitarian” to de scribe the nature of GDR society. The event itself tells another story: the autumn of 1989 in East Germany shows, on the largest possible scale of a successful political experiment, that the social logic of the former conditions of production could not have been totalitarian. In fact this applies to the behaviour of both sides involved, as indicated by the appearance – the entrance – of East German democracy and also by the course of its wres tling with the political machinery. Behind such conceptual masks, the society that has grown here is unrecognisable, but the conjectures made about us from the outside before ’89 continue to rattle on. Yet the old concepts no longer apply. (For this level of debate, 1989 wouldn’t actually have been neces sary.) That’s why I call it the West “talking to itself” about the East.
Another example: together with the institutional destruc tion of the East German public sphere, the subject of the Stasi (State Security Service) probably forms the the matic cornerstone that prevents a real conversation. It is the deep shadow with which a West German concep tual world harasses, suppresses, and darkens the con crete memory of the East Germans. One might also call it the abuse of the subject. Where does it come from? From the cultural imprint that the West German intelligentsia bears from its deal ings with fascism. But what is the reason for the pre dominance of false analogies? It arises from the com plete liquidation of the academic and media intelligentsia that had emerged in the German Democratic Republic. As is indicated by the hypocritical (and dishonest) fram ing of “two German dictatorships”. From an analytical point of view, this is merely a self-referential phrase, but politically it has a colonial ist effect.
These are only two of the blows to the head received by East German democracy, i.e. by at least half of East Germans. We are still reflecting on them. What kind of blows the other two quarters (i.e. the conservative half) received we don’t yet understand. However, the AfD (Alternative for Germany) is not an East German product, but an entirely West German con sequence. It embodies the dissociation of the lower from the greater middle class. This division will therefore also persist in the political system; it cannot be made to dis appear by argumentative or cultural superiority. This rup ture means a lot to the Federal Republic: as it reaches deeper, ground will continue to give way. East Germany does not have such a middle class. Here the election success of the AfD stems from other sources. It is perhaps 5 per cent of the electorate here who really share the convictions of the party leadership. But the wound of public voicelessness has been festering for a long time, which may account for 15 per cent of the over all votes. The current 25 per cent, on the other hand, is a result of the East Germans’ learning from the bad manners of protest voting.
This new form of resistance from the right has two very distinct social origins. The two German societies, as they emerged from the Second World War, continue to exist. Administrative unification has so far not been able to clearly identify or constructively resolve their antago nism. It is by no means clear from where democracy will take its next steps.
Let us finally ask: if the democratic competence of 1989 had its own voice, media, and capacity to act today, what would it say and do on its thirtieth birthday in this new life? First of all, it would be suspicious of the idle talk of a “peaceful revolution”. It would then remember that it was not “peaceful” but months of indescribable tension. It would realise that it was in fact non-violence only. And that there were two sides to the non-violence. It would eventually say to the other side: “Well, we still disagree with you – and you probably disagree with us. But you did not shoot, and you let us go our way; you gave in to an unknown future.” So, from now on, any ordered marginalisation should end. Ergo: general amnesty, an end to the “Regelanfrage” (a categorical investigation of prospective civil servants to determine any Stasi ties), and the like. That, I think, is what it would say a generation later. And this would by no means be out of any “reconcilia tion”, but solely out of self-respect – the self-respect of East German democracy.
KLAUS WOLFRAM studied philosophy (1970–74), and was engaged in left oppositionist activity in East Germany from 1975. Banned from working in the academic field, he was a factory worker from 1977 to 1981, before becoming a member of the Central Round Table’s constitutional group and co-founding the BasisDruck publishing house in 1989. He edited the weekly newspaper Die Andere from 1990 to 1992, and SKLAVEN magazine from 1994 to 1999.
MICHAEL RUETZ – TIME MACHINE
Kapelle-Ufer, Central Station 179.03 19 October 1991
Kapelle-Ufer, Central Station 179.09 12 July 1999
Kapelle-Ufer, Central Station 179.15 1 May 2006
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Kapelle-Ufer 178.00 19 October 1991
Kapelle-Ufer 178.10 4 May 2001
Kapelle-Ufer 178.17 8 August 2017
“A STRANGE, ALMOST FANTASTIC MOMENT OF POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY”
A CONTRIBUTION AN EXTRACT FROM VOLKER BRAUN’S REPLY TO KLAUS WOLFRAM’S SPEECH On my way to the general meeting I read a column on the front page of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (a centre-right daily news paper) – by one of its editors, Berthold Kohler. The opening sen tence read: “The people in east Germany are forgetful of history and ungrateful.” And the final sentence: “They must remember that they are coming out of the dark.” What you heard yesterday from Klaus Wolfram, dear colleagues, was the account of a moment of clarity. The alertness, the aware ness of a large population. And that was Wolfram’s intention, for he wanted to commemorate, without any polemics. He reminded us of this great process, what you might call a self-composition of social forces, an innermost sense of the aspiration to be present and to help shape society. This is what we experienced, for three or four months: every manager, every board had to face its work force, and every plant manager, every chancellor was newly elected. The councils and round tables got to work. It was a strange, almost fantastic moment of popular sovereignty. Of course, it was also a moment of resistance to the immediate conditions. And the dem ocratic awakening came from society itself, its structure and its experience. The elementary condition, Wolfram says, was “the experience of social equality for the vast majority of citizens there.” I am, frankly, satisfied that Kohler is thus getting a response from someone who knows what he is talking about. There were murmurs in the room. Not everyone liked what Wolfram had to say. But, colleagues, he did not speak against you by speaking to you. He reported on something that is heavily obscured today. I find it incomprehensible that today everything is reduced to the subject of the AfD (Alternative für Deutschland, the Alternative for Germany, right-wing populist party), which is a totally different chapter. This conservative segment of the popula tion does not exactly stand for historic action. But this was called for at the moment it became possible. The tenor of our meetings was: if we do not seize the opportunity now, it will be lost. What
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preoccupied me in the 1990s was not what was happening to us (that was foreseeable), but what had not happened to the misun derstood utopian elements, such as common property: which would have allowed us to think and to build without being con strained by possessions and interests. Maximising not profit, but meaning. The shame about what was not achieved, that was our part. What Wolfram thought and took further was a serious mat ter of self-questioning, and remains so – as we can see – to the present day. I experienced this period, when I was director of the Litera ture Section, as one of togetherness. We have the same concerns and the same demands, we are a community. In this context I must also remind you of the Ostakademie, a special institution. Undoubt edly a place for the intrepid. In the 1980s in particular – you have to call to mind the atmosphere of the events. You went to the Academy because you heard something there that enabled you to take a deep breath. That was true for the arts in general and for theatre in particular. The whole country was engaged in thought. At the last writers’ congress in November 1987, I spoke about the structure of the state, which had to be transparent and open so that one could intervene. The text, by the way, was called “THE BRIGHT PLACES ”. Honecker sat there in the front row and took notes when I quoted my young nephew, who in an essay had contradicted Goethe’s sentence: “For the great work to be com pleted / one mind is enough for a thousand hands”. One mind is not enough, you rulers. And this is not confined to a society that is on the way out. Today, it is still a question of who takes the funda mental decisions. That is something that concerns us all, and it is a task for the Academy.
VOLKER BRAUN was appointed to the twenty-strong committee of the Akademie der Künste (East) for renewal and for unification with the Akademie der Künste (West) in 1991. From 2006 to 2010, he was director of the Literature Section of the Akademie der Künste.
The author (right), aged 15
FIVE MEMORIES FROM THE SOCIAL UNCONSCIOUS Katharina Warda
The metaphor of Dunkeldeutschland and the associated dispara ging treatment has never completely vanished from the collective memory. With Gauck’s speech this underwent an update and, worse still: eastern Germany was reduced to right-wing extremism instead of drabness, and to backwardness of a moral rather than an eco nomic nature. Rhetoric that Gauck did not invent. Rather, in his overstatement he captured the essence of a narrative strand about the “East”. Leaving the polemics of the speech aside, the high level of right-wing violence in eastern Germany since reunification In using the term Dunkeldeutschland, Gauck was continuing a has indeed been a serious problem that has already cost many long tradition. Even before reunification, the term appeared in West people their lives. The unrest in Hoyerswerda (1991) and Rostock- Germany as a derogatory term for East Germany, referring to the Lichtenhagen (1992), the Magdeburg Ascension Day riots (1994), sparse street lighting in the cities and their dark nights free of illu and the hounding in Guben (1999) are only the most notable among minated advertising. At the time of reunification, Dunkeldeutsch the acts of violence. This list continues up to the present day, with land became a buzzword, always popping up whenever the “eas outbreaks of right-wing violence in Heidenau (2015) and Chemnitz tern zone”, “the other side”, or the drabness of former East Germany (2018). And there have been several murders and assaults that became the topic of conversation. In 1994 the term even became have never made it into the collective memory. Untold stories of a candidate for the “Unword of the Year”, among other “linguistic everyday fear and violence. In addition, the voices of those directly humiliations” aimed at the new citizens of the Federal Republic – affected by right-wing violence are often missing from the narra tives about racism in the East and beyond. this is how the Süddeutsche Zeitung summed it up.
“There is a bright Germany that stands radiant over Dark Germany [Dunkeldeutschland]”, the then Federal President Joachim Gauck declared in his speech on the attacks on the asylum centre in Heidenau in 2015. Dunkeldeutschland is the Germany of agitators and arsonists, he continued polemically. Dunkeldeutschland is an old term for East Germany, which Gauck contrasted with Germany’s bright, luminous West of civil engagement.
A child of a German mother and a South African father, I was born in East Germany and grew up in Wernigerode, a small town in Saxony-Anhalt. One of my memories is as follows:
The term was humiliating. I was hurt by the hostility towards Ibiza- Ingo and the laughter aimed at Cindy from Marzahn. East Germany often became a social freak show in the way it was presented in the media. “Ossi” [East German] stereotypes were permanent In 1992 , I’m a 7-year-old attending the second year of a pri guests in the cabinet of clowns on talk shows. You rarely heard any mary school in a concrete slab building. It’s on the way home other stories from the East. In its years of transformation, the East that my real lessons begin: running away, hiding, and trying became a non-place about which there were stories, but from which not to show any fear. I learn to run for it when the group of no self-constructed narratives emerged. It became a place onto girls from the vocational school throw stones at me and insult which all unpleasant attributes and topics were projected. A place me with the N-word. I learn to hide “in time” when I see groups from which one can at best distance oneself. A kind of evil twin of of men in bomber jackets approaching, and to slowly become the West. numb because there’s no way out of this hell called Heimat. It rubbed off on my self-image, one dictated by other people’s perceptions. As a victim of racism, I was automatically a “foreigner”, This memory of going to school is one memory among many and even though I was not. I was an Ossi, and what that meant I learned yet exemplary. It stands for the everyday sense of threat. I realised from the West. I was “antisocial”, as if our fragile existence was not very early on that I was perceived as different and that this was not already difficult enough. I made up for my lack of self-determination a good thing. I did not understand why, but I understood that my by immersing myself in the subculture: life was potentially in danger. The normality of discrimination was painful, especially because it was marked by silence and incom It’s 1998. I’m 13 years old and one of a group of punks who prehension. I felt alone with my situation. Racist attacks were meet in the open spaces between the high-rise flats. My reported in the media. Here, as in Gauck’s speech, the incidents mother, like those of many of my friends, is depressed, unem were often used to paint a picture of the East that contrasted with ployed, and sometimes on a job creation scheme. My father the self-image of Germany’s West. Racism became an East prob is an alcoholic and, just like my mother, completely over lem that was rooted in the history of the old regime and therefore whelmed by the historical circumstances. My youth consists had nothing to do with the Federal Republic and did not need to of hanging out, listening to punk rock, and drinking beer; of be discussed in depth. concrete high-rises, the absence of authority, and the vacuum We did not talk about it at home either. My mother and step of a lack of prospects. My boyfriend plays drums in a band. They father are white and did not really understand what I was going release an album on cassette called Alltägliches Verrotten through. At the same time, they were completely absorbed by their (“Everyday decay”), which describes our view of life. own experiences of disparagement and existential fear. At the beginning of the 1990s, their ecstatic delight over reunification Here, in punk rock, its view of life, its music, its lyrics, I found was soon mixed with feelings of insecurity and apathy, combined myself again and felt understood for the first time. Punk rock gave with a lack of prospects. When they both lost their jobs in a metal me a language to talk about precarious circumstances, dispar factory, jobs that until then had dominated not only their working agement, classism, racism, and violence. Here, we redefined stig but also their social lives, our social decline followed. My step mas like “foreign” and “antisocial”. For me and my friends “No father found a job as a refuse collector, and my mother, for the time Future” meant unemployment, poverty, and violence; for many being, as a cleaner. Many of their friends were unemployed. Uncer other young people it meant drug addiction; and for my father it tainty and a loss of status turned into frustration, apathy, and meant alcoholism and later suicide. The more unbearable the situ the neglect of me and my siblings. ation around me became, the deeper I fled into my colourful world of music, cheerful abandon, and overindulgence. Everything else In 1995, I’m 10 years old. Every day after school I pursue my simply took a backseat: only occupation: watching television. The small colour TV in my room, once a parenting tool to keep me quiet, soon becomes It’s 2003. I’m 18 years old and the first in my family to attend my gateway to the world. For hours I study the world out there grammar school. Here we learn, besides maths, physics, and in cartoons, news bulletins, and talk shows from Arabella to foreign languages, one thing above all for the future: conform Vera am Mittag. I learn right and wrong, good and bad, and ism, i.e. not to stand out as an Ossi in everyday life, in favour what seems the most important distinction of the time: nor of a better future. We learn to present ourselves, to “lay it on mal and antisocial. Big families, unemployed and without job thick”, because, according to my teachers, this is what mat prospects, days consisting of TV programmes and schnapps, ters now. Whoever speaks dialect in presentations gets a mark an eastern German dialect: these are the antisocial people. I deducted. The question of whether to learn Russian as a sec recognise them for the first time: the “antisocial” are also us, ond foreign language feels like a trick. “Of course not”, I reply my family, my surroundings, my home territory, and therefore vigilantly, and choose French. The Russian class is cancelled also me. I am “antisocial”. this year. Almost daily my German teacher reminds us to shed
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everything that makes us eastern German. She speaks from an experience of disparagement, as do many others. Instead of lapsing into apathy or overindulgence, we take the path of conformism, of making ourselves invisible, and hence the way forward. As a reaction to the systematic downgrading of our A bitur [university entrance qualification], the Land of Saxony-Anhalt comes up with an idea for my year: a tougher Abitur. Instead of examinations in two main subjects, as is usual throughout Germany, we are examined in six. In 2005 I finish school with my Abitur and am well prepared: I have learned a lot, but above all to keep quiet about who I am and what I have experienced. In fact, this helped me through the next few years. In going to uni versity, I discarded my lower-class identity, abbreviated my east ern identity to the name of my birthplace, and responded to every day racism with a tired smile. I fitted in easily, I spoke High German now. And because of my appearance there is no way I could have come from the German East – after all, only “antisocial Nazis” lived there. Well-intentioned stereotyping like this allowed me to relive my experiences. On the one hand, it triggered the feeling of being “othered”, disqualifying me from being East German. On the other hand, it devalued me as the East German that I still was. Feelings that, for a long time, I met with silence. Silence because that was what I had learned. Silence because it was still better than being accused of being “ostalgic”, i.e. wistful about East German times. I did not long to return to the GDR. I had hardly known that East Germany. Nor did I long for the post-reunification period. I longed to remember and share my memories. In 2019, in connection with the celebration of the 30th anni versary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I visit an exhibition in Ber lin portraying the transition period. After viewing displays with such titles as “Look who’s coming!”, which quite naturally tell of the arrival of the first Ossis on fashionable Kurfürstend amm from a West German perspective and in derogatory lan guage, my attention is caught by a panel on right-wing extrem ism. This is about the generation of the “stay-at-homes”. “Immobile” easterners like my parents, who now meet “mobile foreigners” and are overwhelmed due to their state-socialist upbringing. Speechless and tired, I turn away and leave the exhibition. On the way home I realise that I’m not from East Germany at all. I actually only know this East Germany in its abridged form from stories about it. The place I come from is Dunkeldeutschland. Dunkeldeutschland is not the place of dark streets devoid of illu minated advertising. Nor of arsonists and the morally retrograde. Dunkeldeutschland is a complex place, but without its own sto ries. It is a blank space in German history. A blind spot for narra tives and memories. The evil twin of the bright West in collective memory. A kind of Moloch or Hades, in which all evil seems to be concentrated and from which one can only escape by excluding it
from its own history. For me, Dunkeldeutschland stands as a met aphor for the “social unconscious”, as the Austrian memorial edu cationalist Peter Gstettner calls it. According to him, historical events that are not recounted or discussed do not simply disap pear from our world of thought. Instead, the collective memory of these events sinks into the “social unconscious” and with it all the suppressed fears, desires, and memories. There, over time, they develop a destructive life of their own. Stigma and pigeonholing play their part and end, as in the example of East Germany, in hatred and violence towards those perceived as the enemy, who need not have anything to do with these deep-psychological dynamics. Be they refugees, foreigners, or simply Wessis [West Germans]. It is high time to reflect on the speechlessness in and discrim ination of the East, and to tell the story of reunification anew, with the narratives of its subjects.
KATHARINA WARDA is an online editor at the Akademie der
Künste. She is currently working on her doctorate in Berlin and Princeton on diary blogs, digital narrative techniques, and marginalised identities. Since 2018, she has been working on her “Dunkeldeutschland” project, which brings together recounted memories to form polyphonic “biographical maps” in order to look at post-reunification in a new way.
“EVEN FRIDAY’S SUN SETS” IXMUCANÉ AGUILAR
“Even Friday’s sun sets” This is a Nama phrase. It refers to a specific Friday. It was a traumatic Friday, a Friday full of fear – a day on which dignity and pride were traded for life. This Friday the men of the village were lured into the church – to pray – but they were surrounded by German soldiers of the Schutztruppe, by machine gun of iron, and taken hostage within the holy walls. The women did the praying ... and even this day took an end with the setting sun. But the certainty of fear remained ...
Numerous books have been written about the history of German South West Africa. But how the unspeakable consequences of human and land loss were experienced by Namibians who lived and died in this period is not well known and is largely underestimated or disregarded. For several months I travelled Namibia on a search for history and stories related to the genocidal crimes com mitted by the German colonial rulers against the Herero and Nama people. My journey led me to different towns and villages all around the country. I took with me a selfmade, portable photo-studio. So arose the very special opportunity for me to inter act, speak, and meet with people who could still recall what happened to their ancestors. Getting to know stories and reflections about the past, which today shapes the physical and psychological inheritance of the descendants. My work does not seek to narrate general history, or to follow or express a political statement. In fact, I wanted to create a work which transcends politics or mindsets. My aim is to portray pieces of reality related to the gen ocide, and thereby to trace a more human understand ing of the topic. From these encounters emerged images and text as documental fragments. The work consists of living voices, full of pieces of humanity, longing for acknowledgment and recognition. It is a large sequence of portraits and surroundings; each picture is related to a specific fragment of history. The portraits are all set in a “non-place” background. The intention is to lift their individuality out of the com plex realities of an everyday environment. The portraits
are followed by narrative material in the form of poems, lamentations, family testimonies, and staged video and audio recordings, complemented by archival documents as a cross-reference with oral history. All these layers refer to political, trans-generational effects and a real ity whose origin lies beyond fate. I have been navigating through a web of facts, emo tions, politics, and sometimes even denial. I see this work as more than a collection of data and faces referencing a distant past from a distant place … in fact it means engaging with stories and history that belong not only to the past but also to the present and a time to come.
IXMUCANÉ AGUILAR (b.1983) is a Berlin-based visual artist/ designer who graduated from Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin. She works with documentary photography, which she combines with research and conversations, guided by an interest in looking for truth and human reality. Aguilar often engages with particular groups and communities of people sharing a reality. In this way, her work turns text and images into photo documentaries that capture fragments of reality.
Tainan Public Library
There’s an expression for something that just doesn’t make sense – it has “no rhyme or reason”. What about the opposite? Something with “reason” follows some logic, it has a purpose and suggests that it is there by design. Clearly, architecture has this sort of reason. But what about “rhyme”? The word usually applies to poetry.
Library of Birmingham
A poem is a composition that can resonate deep in our minds, gen erate emotion, conjure up magic, and evoke memory, either per sonal or collective. These are elusive things. They don’t come from instructions in a design manual, but intuition senses and finds them. If we can add rhyme to reason in architecture, it becomes poetic, and it is great architecture. Every architectural commission has a purpose, or a function to deliver. That may be to house people, host cultural activity, cre ate a workplace, or deliver a transport link. Formulaic design can produce solutions to serve each purpose, but if the concerns of the users are at the core of the design and it is specific to its location, the purpose itself is enhanced.
FROM PURPOSE TO POETRY
LocHal Library, Tilburg
THE CHANGING LIBRARY Francine Houben and Herbert Wright
Ask people to imagine a library, and many may think of something like that in Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books – a gothic caricature of historic libraries shrouded in gloom and a respectful, almost sacred silence, a repos itory of endless arcane books written by people long dead. It’s certainly poetic, but not a place for most people or modern media. Libraries have been changing ever since the Babylonians stored documents on clay tablets in rooms five millennia ago, and this century the changes have accelerated. Nowadays, libraries are more than just warehouses for words. They are coming alive as venues for culture and education, not just for scholars but for all. They are hubs for community services and events. Their core func tion – to provide access to printed publications – is trans forming. Libraries should be anchors and catalysts for urban renewal, not just of the built environment but of public life, inside and out. Francine Houben even says that “libraries are the most important public buildings” of all. They are, she declares, “the cathedrals of our time”. Mecanoo’s breakthrough project, the first to catch the attention of the architectural world beyond the Neth erlands, was actually a library. TU Delft (Delft University of Technology) was where Houben studied, and as if in return for the skills and insight she acquired there, Meca noo started work on the design of the TU Delft Library in 1993. It has changed forever the idea of what a library could be. The 15,000 m² building was completed 1998. The main library room itself is a vast open hall stretch ing under a sloping ceiling, which is penetrated by light falling around a giant cone like a spacecraft which has touched down through a hole in the roof and put down legs. You can enter into the reading spaces of this con
ical building-within-a-building via bridges accessed from a four-level wall of books, stunning in its epic 60-metre length. Go outside and you see that the 42-metre-high cone breaks through an inclined field of grass sweeping – like a hillside – right across the roof, down towards TU Delft’s previous standout building, the brutalist Aula Audito rium (1968) designed by Jaap Bakema and Jo van den Broek. This pioneering green roof is peppered with peo ple when the sun shines. The TU Delft Library is a radi cal break from all the post-war modernism of the Delft campus, and a giant leap towards today’s drive towards sustainability. It is also a dramatic poem writ large, in the languages of space, form … and landscape. The LocHal Library in Tilburg, which opened in 2019, incorporates the Midden-Brabant public library. Two cul tural institutions and a co-working office space provider also share the structure, which was once a railway repair shed but has since been restored and reconfigured by CIVIC, Braaksma & Roos, and Inside Outside. The volume is large – 90 × 60 m and 15 m high – and Mecanoo brings the refreshed structure to life. Like an ex tension of public space, LocHal draws people past a warm entrance cafe at ground level into the building. Huge tables made from old railway chassis can be moved along retained heritage rail tracks within and outside the building, and three tables, when joined, create a stage for performance. Beyond the tables is a wide set of stairs and terraces to sit on, and the higher you stop, the more there is to see. In an internal passage which runs deep into the old shed, Mecanoo has created a long “book street”. Here, old iron structural columns become reading stations. A children’s section is a colourful playground full of giant
TU Delft Library
Library of Birmingham
book, pencil, and ruler shapes. Dedicated learn-and-try rooms called “labs” pop up. LocHal goes far beyond the idea of a library as just some where to access books. It is a library for the future because it reaches out to the community with attractive, relevant offerings and visual drama. This was also the approach in Mecanoo’s first library outside the Netherlands. The Library of Birmingham in England opened in 2013 and has had a powerful popular impact on the city, becoming its instantly recognisable icon. When the pro ject began five years earlier, Houben walked around the city and observed its citizens, and the insight this gave her generated an extraordinary design for a People’s Pal ace, something for all of Birmingham. The new landmark rises in the form of three stacked translucent boxes – each behind an intricate, elegant filigree screen of aluminium rings (5,357 in total) – and is crowned by a golden cylinder reaching 60 metres up, housing the original 19th-century Shakespeare Memo rial Room. Library visitors enter under the 11-metre can tilever of the largest box, and long escalators rise into a cathedral-scaled internal space. The idea came to Hou ben in a dream – a series of staggered circular voids which diminish in diameter towards light that falls from the sky above. Continuous bookshelves behind balco nies line the 24-metre-wide Book Rotunda, and the sur rounding floors spread out into the rectangular floorplan. On top of the lowest box is the great L-shaped Discov ery Terrace, a public garden of benches and islands of vegetation containing 3500 plants, while the box above hosts another terrace, the Secret Garden. Birmingham’s library is a dynamic spatial adventure, but it delivers practical services.
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In Taiwan, the newest of Mecanoo’s libraries, the Tainan Public Library, delivered in collaboration with local prac tice MAYU, opens in 2020. Here, the highest level of the rectangular-plan building is supported by pillars and wrapped with a screen of vertical aluminium louvres, act ing as brise-soleil to filter light, and poetically carved to create a pattern evoking Taiwanese window frames. This element of the form has a distant echo of the only library designed by Mies van der Rohe, with its colonnade of columns beneath a rectangular block. Tainan’s impos ing crown shelters three glazed floors, each stepped back further as they descend. The whole form is like an inverted ziggurat. Step through the entrance, and you can look up into the library floors, as in Birmingham. Set in landscaped gardens, the 37,000 m² project in cludes a conference hall, an auditorium, and a cafe, and again the intention is inclusivity for all, with areas espe cially dedicated to teenagers and the elderly. The chil dren’s library looks out onto a playground, visually con necting play and reading. In the landscaped surroundings, three sunken plazas become spaces for outdoor events and exhibitions. Tainan Public Library is located in Yongkang district, which is rapidly building up from fields, and this library will give it an urban heart. The journey from Mecanoo’s original ideas for the game-changing library in Delft to its newest urban land mark library in Tainan spans a quarter-century. But in the United States, Mecanoo’s library projects have a much longer backstory. They involve the rehabilitation and rebirth of some of the most important libraries in the country. Washington DC has the only library designed by the supreme master of modernist architecture, Mies van der
Rohe. In Germany, he had been the last director of the Bauhaus, the world’s most influential pre-war design school, but he perfected his distinctive rectilinear glassand-steel architecture in the US after the war. What was originally to be called the Central Library is a quintes sential example, and his last design. Mies died in 1969, and in 1971 the 37,000 m² library was named the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library after the towering Afri can American civil rights leader, who was tragically assassinated in 1968. The library opened in 1972. Mies had said it would be “the most beautiful and the most dramatic library build ing in the United States”. Admittedly the curtain-walled box, whose black steel columns create a colonnade around a recessed ground floor, looks like his celebrated dark skyscrapers, but cut back to four floors. Since its design, the services a library must offer and its role in the community have changed (as Mecanoo’s projects clearly show). This had left Mies’s library not just phys ically deteriorating but functionally outdated as well. Furthermore, it had become a haven for the homeless, deterring users of its resources. “One group should not push out another”, Houben says. Renovating the library is a chance to celebrate the spirit and legacy of two very different men, Mies and King. The inspirational social and political legacy of King resonates with how Mecanoo has always placed people as a foundation in its design philosophy. A central objec tive in Washington, as Houben explains, is “to highlight the library’s main social gathering purpose and its strong presence as a social landmark in the city”. And without compromising Mies’s perfectly proportioned design, the building had to become more “human”.
Cross-section of the Mid-Manhattan Library
Working with local practice OTJ, Mecanoo has not tam pered with the powerful simplicity of Mies’s block. But within its colonnade, and inside and above the building, Washington will find a different library when it reopens in 2020. Mecanoo has not been afraid to bring warm wood and a softer, contemporary line to features in the right places. In two of the four concrete cores, monumental staircases lined with wood curve around a middle void, becoming vertical social connectors. A 293-capacity auditorium inserted on the upper floors is also lined with wood, which curves around its corners. And then there is the com plete transformation of the roof. It has become a new public terrace, with paths between garden planters, as in Birmingham. All of this surrounds the literal crown of the MLK Library, a new pavilion, which sits beneath a flat trapezoid canopy of grass. Because the pavilion is set back from the edges it is not visible from the street. The building will be as good as new, but remains unmis takably, uniquely Mies. Finally, another American project takes us to two buildings in the heart of Manhattan, each over a century old. One is the most famous library in the Western hem isphere, and the other its long-estranged sister library. These two great libraries, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and the Mid-Manhattan Library, face each other diagonally across the junction of Fifth Avenue and 40th Street. The age of the buildings differs by just three years, and they are both part of the New York Public Library (NYPL) system, yet they could not be more different. In partnership with local practice Beyer Blinder Belle, spe cialists in historic renovation, Mecanoo is transforming both libraries and bringing them together as the NYPL’s Midtown Campus.
With a very different magic to Harry Potter’s, Mecanoo libraries draw people into them, and they find not just comfort juxtaposed with activity, but surprises of space and light that could make you gasp. People may no longer need to say “shhhh” in libraries, but a moment without words in any of these architectural worlds of words is all that is needed to see the poetry Mecanoo brings to the changing library.
FRANCINE HOUBEN is the founding partner and creative director of Mecanoo architecten. Her projects range from theatres, museums and libraries to neighbourhoods, housing and parks. Currently, she is working on the renovations of the New York Public Library and the central library of Washington, DC. HERBERT WRIGHT is a contributing editor to the UK architecture/design magazine Blueprint. He has written books about skyscrapers and urbanism and worked with Mecanoo on recent publications.
MECANOO was founded in the Netherlands in 1984 by a group of student architects including Francine Houben. She is now its principal and creative director, and its base remains in the historic city of Delft. Nowadays, Mecanoo is a global practice, with projects on three continents.
TORCH MARCH WITH THE BLOB, OR: WE AND OTHER PHANTOMS Enis Maci
After the Storming of the Bastille, the citizens gathered in an actual room. Here they stood close together, cheek to cheek, arse to arse. Those who wanted to continue to grant the king the right of abso lute veto sat on the right of the assembly in 1789, those who wanted to take it away from him sat on the left. Left: egalitarians, right: elitists. Left: progressives, right: reactionaries. A conceptual pair was born among the citizens. Here, they immediately moved away from each other, not least because every “we” deals with the pre carious relationship between proximity and distance. They spread out, right to the edges of this real room, and in the middle, then as now: indifference regarding the initial question.
Parliamentary right-wingers rarely refer to themselves as the right but instead prefer to call their opponents the left. The parliamen tary left-wingers are not affected by that; they fervently refer to themselves as the left. Only the social democrats, now positioned just left of centre, fear being considered too far left, not centre enough. And that is the crux of the matter, of course. Unfortunately, I have to repeat myself here: the political cen tre is imagined as a place. It describes a relative distance from both the LEFT and the RIGHT . It describes no more than the equidis tant point between two supposed outer edges. It is a concept that was introduced retrospectively. The notion of the “political centre” itself is what makes left-wing and right-wing positions peripheral. But the second, subsequent rhetorical step is actually the impor tant one: as the LEFT and RIGHT are “equally far away” from the political centre, for better or worse, they must also be “equally bad”. This so-called horseshoe theory – long discredited by science – finds its counterpart in the wonderful “fish hook theory meme”, which imagines the political spectrum as a fish hook where the so-called centre and the extreme right meet. The meme exists in infinite contradictory variations, of course, thereby illustrating not just a nice idea but also the unsuitability of pictograms for politi cal analysis.
FISH HOOK THEORY
The only institutions that still cling to the horseshoe theory are the law enforcement authorities. For example, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which until recently was headed by Hans-Georg Maaßen, and is where people who were appreci ated by him have made successful careers for themselves and will probably continue to do so. Is Maaßen just an ordinary right-winger or is he actually a right-wing extremist? In any case, the following
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facts are well known (incomplete list): his dissertation, peppered thing like this: ‘Harry N. was ethnically cleansed as he sat playing with terms such as “mass immigration” and “asylum tourism”; his cards with friends.’ I thought: Is he not ashamed? To quote Kafka: precarious attitude toward the freedom of the press, as the charge Shame did not survive. That makes me shake with rage. The war against netzpolitik.org for “Hetzjagden” illustrates, and obviously changed the language of The New Yorker.” his attempt to deny the Chemnitz “witch-hunt”, the hunting down Handke, who in the same interview uses the term “Muslim of foreigners during far-right demonstrations there in 2018. Let us Serbs” unchallenged (when what he means is Bosniaks), to whom remember: Maaßen declared a corresponding video to be inau the grieving mothers, daughters, sisters, lovers, and comrades of thentic. Or, to put it clearly – what is clarity but a variety of preci those wiped out by genocide somehow came across as fake, who sion, this most poetic of all categories? – Maaßen tried to deny the fantasised about “Barfüßler” (barefooted people) and the horse racist hunt in Chemnitz by shamelessly expressing doubt where shoe of the Bosnian war – they were all somehow “equally bad”, none existed – by lying, but not quite. How much was his word worth camps here, camps there, camps everywhere, but of course he in the past, before parliamentary committees of inquiry, in internal would know, he travelled the surrounding region after all, when memoranda, at meetings with members of government? All these the grass was literally yet to grow over the graves of those who had moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. been killed in Srebrenica. So Handke speaks of the loss of shame In an interview with the Rheinische Post, Maaßen explained: in the world, not because of what has just been described, not “People who know me consider me to be social-minded and thus because of an equally sudden and delayed epiphany, but because more left – and a realist. That is how I see myself too.” Further “ethnic cleansing” does not constitute a verb or, in any case, not more: “Just because you criticise climate policy and immigration one that can simply be used in the passive voice. For him, it is not policy, just because you have concerns regarding some points of about those who were murdered but about grammar, to which he security policy, you are not automatically right-wing. Today, the undoubtedly ascribes magical potential. Perhaps it has the power term ‘right’ is used in an unrestrained manner in order to exclude to bring the dead to life; that would be nice. individuals and avoid having to deal with the factual arguments.” By the way, the headline for the text is: “Handke does not There you go again, travesty as a form of right-wing rhetoric, believe in dialogue”. which I have tried to figure out for some time. Frauke Petry, as she Of course, I do not believe in dialogue either – with misan recites Brecht’s “Children’s Hymn”. Female neo-fascist activists thropes, notorious liars, with anyone who condemns me and invoking the power of women. Maaßen, as he declares himself a everything I believe in. There is no reason for self-humiliation. On left-winger, as if these terms – left and right, egalitarian and elit issues like these, it is impossible not to take a position, and this ist, progressive and reactionary – were not “conservative”, because includes admitting that you consider your own political standpoint without the reaction to collectively hard-won progress, conserva to be correct, or at least believe your opposite’s standpoint to be tism could not be referred to as such; it would simply remain fundamentally wrong, and yes, destructive, so there can be no talk old-fashioned thinking, full-stop, no alternative, regardless of the of the two positions coexisting side-by-side. Only those who con fact that today the conservation of nature, the maintenance of the fuse opinion with a clear-sighted stance can be accused of soiling welfare state, etc. are, in principle at least, certainly not matters poetry with opinion. of revolution but rather of maintaining/preserving the status quo. Also found in Die Zeit : the great song of “we” by Eva Marie So Maaßen, as he declares himself to be leftist, as if these con Stegmann. Theme: “The discourse” is elitist: the white, hetero cepts had no meaning, as if creating, fostering, and caring for a sexual, etc. etc., who feel “left behind”, get cross when, contrary society were not always about creating concepts and collectively to expectations, educated or at least incredibly articulate, etc. etc. agreeing on these to allow for a conversation – almost as if he had members of minorities come crawling out of their holes and do not no interest at all in the idea of society as a conversation (a conver ask for rights but rather insist on them. More friendliness, more sation with oneself, bilateral or trilateral exchange, chatter, whis compassion please – for those who are annoyed, of course. A few pering, singing), almost as if he rejected everything now referred days ago, I heard someone say that the force of criticism expressed to as “dialogue”. We have known this for quite some time about online regarding Stegmann’s text was unbelievable; we have to right-wing extremism: denying every conversation, and at the same stick together, that someone said, she is obviously not the enemy. time attributing to an ominous left wing exactly this refusal to (really) I ask myself just who this darn “we” that has to stick together is talk – a left whose characteristics remain nebulous, the only prom supposed to be, and does it also include the workers, employees, inent one being the destructive generation of dissent within the tradespeople, and unemployed, who have long stood for equality otherwise extremely harmonious “Volkskörper”. and respect, and are now disparagingly brushed aside in a single Different topic, same principle: Handke, in Die Zeit – one hes sweep by Stegmann through omission – not to mention those who itates to say “speaking to Die Zeit” or even “in an interview with are annoying, the burdensome minorities themselves? Die Zeit ”, as the whole thing smells more like a favour, a PR meas The enemy cannot be Stegmann, because: the enemy is always ure, ultra-transparent rattlings – so Handke, when he says in Die the one holding the torch to the fire. Where did he get the torch from? Zeit: “I used to like reading The New Yorker. When the war broke Who smeared it with pitch? Where did the pitch come from? What out in Yugoslavia, an article by Susan Sontag’s son began some was burnt to make the pitch? What tinder did he use to light the
torch? Who stripped the tinder from the dead wood and dried it out? the most beautiful, most promising of all stages. But I have written Idle questions, it was probably someone, but it couldn’t have been about the opponents once again, about Maaßen and Handke and the enemy because: the enemy is whoever holds the torch to the fire. Stegmann – qualitative differences, similar rhetorical means – And so Stegmann writes: because it is true not only that you have to be careful to whom you “Sometimes it seems to me that a certain group is just wait give space on paper, but also that you can renounce falsehood, both ing with the discursive weapons at the ready until someone says a in writing and in speech, once you have clearly identified it by name. wrong word in public. Anyone who does not use a gender asterisk Naming is the most powerful magic – it can make those named for is automatically sexist. Anyone who says ‘exotic’ is a racist. Is it the first time angry and suspicious, and I can only interpret their really that simple?” mistrust as one thing: the beginning of a wonderful struggle. But who are this particular group? Do they have a name? Where The thing is: political life, social cooperation, etc. etc. – is not do their discursive weapons come from? In his response to Steg a line, is not a circle, is not a sphere. It positions itself in space and, mann in Der Spiegel, Enrico Ippolito showed that this talk of the in addition to this, in time too. It knows no uniformity, it is amor aloof cosmopolitan elite draws on the same anti-Semitic topos we phous, it is practice and nature and a thingamabob and a small ani are already familiar with from the notion of “The Great Replace mal all at once. If it is reminiscent of any physical phenomenon on ment”; he also illustrated that the constitution of the working class earth, then it is probably the slime displayed at Paris Zoo, called as a political subject itself is the result of the very processes of The Blob – with no brain, but a perfect sense of direction, immense identity politics Stegmann so disdains. hunger, inexplicable communication skills, and 720 sexes. It is difficult to respond to a text whose core thesis states that criticism of positions such as Stegmann’s always has an aggres On that note: Glückauf! sive air, is always presumptuous; a text, moreover, that already frames mere articulation and naming as an act of arrogant aggres sion. Of course, this is technically very well done, a process like a vaccination, and the text becomes immune to any criticism. Handke writes: “I live on what the others don’t know about me.” A beautiful, very correct sentence, one of many he has writ ten. At first, I thought that what he said was somehow doubly true because, as a public figure, Handke has lived on the fact that others – not to be confused with the Others – did not know, or at least preferred not to know, about his political standpoints. The more drawn out the Nobel fuss was, the clearer it became to me that what I should long have known, the omnipresent truth of the locker-room talk, was this: he was not awarded the prize despite those comments, which were categorised as protest, as rebellion, as an invitation – “against” Sebald, so to speak – to reclaim the realm of aesthetics as value-free, but rather because of them. I actually wanted to write something quite different of course. It was supposed to be about rooms. About the things, the objects, and the fact that you can place them on the left or right, that you can enter the room or that sometimes the room enters you. That was actually what I wanted to talk about, about the spherical and concrete rooms, about the lethal and peaceful rooms, about gar dens where crude oil bubbles up, about a kiosk in Kassel recon structed down to the very last detail in South London, about rewil ded parks in the Ruhr area, where previously the belly of the landscape lay open, coated in dirty snow. About Lena Müller’s stage design for Susanne Kennedy’s Fegefeuer in Ingolstadt. About classrooms. About prison libraries. About collapsing buildings. About those who burned at Grenfell, at Gërdec, at Dhaka. About ENIS MACI, born in Gelsenkirchen in 1993, studied Literary low ceilings clad in cheap wood veneer, covered with press boards, Writing in Leipzig and Cultural Sociology in London. Her dabbed using a sponge painting technique – about leaving those most recent publication is Eiscafé Europa, a volume of essays rooms and about leaving them behind you. About the development published by edition suhrkamp. In 2020, her new plays of the concept of left and right in embryo, about the question as to Battalion and WUNDE R will premiere at the Nationaltheater Mannheim and the Munich Kammerspiele. why the heart actually beats on the left, about the morula stage,
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NEWS FROM THE ARCHIVES Cleavers, props from the film Das deutsche KettensĂ¤genmassaker (1990) by Christoph Schlingensief, used by Alfred (Alfred Edel) and his family of butchers.
HERE IS OFTEN MORE TRUTH IN EXAGGERATION THAN T IN T HE COMPULSION TO MAKE SOMETHING REALISTIC 1
Enfant terrible, scandalous director, endearing provo cateur, political clown, likeable entertainer, and so on – these were typical labels associated with the name Chris toph Schlingensief. However inadequate such buzzwords are in response to the creations of an exceptional artist, one thing is clear: hardly anyone responded to his work with indifference. He drew an exceptional amount of attention to himself. In the last years of his life, he had reached a level of fame that perhaps could only be com pared to pop or film stars. From the moment he started working in theatre at Frank Castorf’s Volksbühne at the beginning of the 1990s, his work was followed closely in the press. His films were already controversial – the opinions of the critics ranged from “absolutely worth seeing” to “disgusting”. But the reaction could not be compared to the media attention commanded by his actions and performances, theatre and opera works, talk shows and installations, and the founding of a party. Schlingensief’s importance was discussed and polemi cised with vehemence and tremendous emotionality. On the one hand, he was hailed and celebrated, sometimes even highly revered, on the other hand, he was dismissed as a charlatan. Schlingensief’s work challenged/challenges the audi ence and certainly often demanded/demands too much of them as well, both aesthetically and thematically. At just 30 years of age, he staged the reunification of Germany as a “blood-soaked, cannibalistic act of incor poration of the East by the West”,2 as a relapse into bar barism. “At a time when everything is possible, it is irrel evant whether something is good or bad.” Schlingensief had actor Alfred Edel say this sentence in the film Das deutsche Kettensägenmassaker (“The German chainsaw massacre”, 1990). Traditional certainties no longer seemed to apply; the euphoria and sentimentality of the
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so-called “Wende-Zeit” (the Peaceful Revolution period) was followed by sobering reality. In a press release, Schlingensief also formulated it entirely in this sense: “After the sauce of unification, now the film to wake up!” Das deutsche Kettensägenmassaker is the second part in Schlingensief’s Germany Trilogy (part one: 100 Jahre Adolf Hitler – Die letzte Stunde im Führerbunker, 1989; part three: Terror 2000 – Intensivstation Deutschland, 1992), in which the director addressed events and debates from German history. Only a few weeks after the accession of the GDR to the Federal Republic of Germany, Das deutsche Ketten sägenmassaker premiered at the Hof International Film Festival on 24 October 1990, after a production period of six months. The screenplay had been written within a few weeks, and after just ten days of filming (beginning in mid-April), the film, set in the ruined landscape of the Thyssen steelworks in Duisburg-Meiderich, was “in the box”. So Schlingensief had responded immediately to political and social events. The film he had actually intended to shoot at this point in time, and for which he had already received film funding in North Rhine- Westphalia (Colonia Dignidad), was to become a com pletely different production that initially still bore the title Spiel ohne Grenzen in den Grenzen von ’37 (“Game without borders in the borders of ’37”). At the beginning of Das deutsche Kettensägen massaker, Schlingensief shows documentary footage, original recordings of the reunification celebrations on 3 October 1990. The then Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker stated in his speech that, “We want to accomplish the unity and freedom of Germany. In our tasks, we are aware of our responsibility before God and humanity”. What then follows satirises the politicians’ speeches with their promises of blooming landscapes, while at the same time exposing the festivities as a largescale production, for example at the end of Weizsäck er’s speech, when he whispers the next point in the event proceedings to the politicians around him: “Now it’s time for the national anthem.” The plot of the film is briefly outlined in the following: Clara (Karina Fallenstein) does away with her husband in Leipzig and drives her Trabi (Trabant, East German car) to the West in order to be with her West German lover (Artur Albrecht). As soon as the couple are united, they fall into the hands of a
family of butchers (Alfred Edel, Dietrich Kuhlbrodt, Volker Spengler, Susanne Bredehöft, Brigitte Kausch, Reinald Schnell, and Udo Kier) who turn any “Ossis” (East Germans) they can get hold of into sausages. Clara her self is spared, but is forced to watch on as the family hunt, slaughter, and eviscerate East Germans. The film is rich, even overflowing with symbols, meta phors, and quotations. Images and slogans of the col lective social consciousness (e.g. East German citizens in Trabis driving over the border; calls of “We are the people”) are to be found in the Kettensägenmassaker, along with allusions to the mass murderer Fritz H aarmann, the Hitchcock classic Psycho, and the American horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which provided more than just the inspiration for the title. A hectic hand-held camera, loads of overlapping sounds – overexcited voices, famous songs, the menacing sound of the chain saw – everything seems to be heavily exaggerated, alien ated, and ambiguous. If you try to interpret it, it becomes all the more clear just how dense, complex, and exces sive Schlingensief’s (image) language is. One thing is for certain, it has not lost any of its relevance and explo siveness to this day.
1 C hristoph Schlingensief in an interview with Frieder Schlaich, 2001. 2 http://www.schlingensief.com/projekt.php?id=f037, accessed 18 Dec. 2019.
JULIA GLÄNZEL is a research assistant at the Performing Arts Archives of the Akademie der Künste.
In addition to work documents, work material, correspond ence, and biographical and business documents, the Christoph Schlingensief Archive also contains individual objects. These include items from films, actions, theatre productions, and the director’s collections. In 2009, Christoph Schlingensief (1960–2010) gave his living legacy to the Performing Arts Archives of the Akademie der Künste.
fig. 1 Ob schwarz, ob weiß – im Kampf vereint!, page from the AIZ, 1931
BROTHERS IN ARMS: T HE MAKING AND MIGRATION OF BLACK AND WHITE UNITY Of the more than 200 photomontages Heartfield prepared for the illustrated workers’ weekly Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung (AIZ ) during the 1930s, one of the sparest and most powerful is Ob schwarz, ob weiß – im Kampf vereint! 1 ( Whether black or white – in struggle united!; fig. 1). Maria Gough
Two arms – one black, the other white, both muscular and male – are raised almost vertically, clench-fisted in unison, in a gesture that has long expressed work ing-class and racial solidarity, strength, defiance and resistance. Monumental in scale, neither arm fully belongs to its respective head, however, at least not in terms of orientation and proportion. Indeed, the original maquette2 (fig. 2) is a composite of five fragments, all of which are cut from first- or second-generation pho tographs rather than print media. Overlapping one another from left to right we find: a rear-side view of a heavily retouched white man’s head; a white arm with a retouched rolled-up shirt sleeve; a rear-side view of a Black man’s head; and a black arm, also with a rolled-up sleeve. The precise layering of these fragments affords a sense of what János Reismann, who produced original
photography for the artist on occasion,3 later described as the photomonteur’s exacting process. Reismann also recalled that he and Heartfield had together scouted a white arm to photograph at the Mezhrabpom Film Stu dio in Moscow, where the monteur was residing at the time as a guest of the International Bureau of Revolu tionary Artists (MBRKh), a Comintern agency that sought to facilitate cooperation between foreign and Soviet artists in the struggle against fascism.4 Once it was assembled, Heartfield had the maquette retouched with ink and then rephotographed. His crop ping instructions on the final print5 served to foreground not so much the individual figures themselves, but rather their shared gesture – across race – of raised arm and clenched fist. This gesture is not that of the confronta tional, clench-fisted forearm brandished before the viewer like a weapon, such as we see in Heartfield’s famous logo for the Roter Frontkämpferbund (Alliance of Red Front-Fighters), a paramilitary organization that provided security and propaganda for the German Com munist Party (KPD). Instead, the reader is entreated to join these comrades in their march towards the radiant light entering from the right, which falls across the Black man’s knuckles, along the right side of his forearm, his sleeve and the top of his head. In the printed image, a septet of partially rhyming verse, perhaps composed by the artist’s brother, Wieland Herzfelde, provides the words to a song that these workers might be singing on their way to radical enlightenment: “Whether black or white – in struggle united! We know only one race, we all know only one enemy – the exploiting class.” The rhetorical assertion that there is only one race succinctly encapsulates the argument of the special issue of the AIZ in which the montage first appeared, in an edition of several hundred thousand, either in late June or very early July 1931.6 Running to twenty pages, the issue documents the lives of Africans, African Amer icans, African Caribbeans and Black Latin Americans, and their struggles against racism and colonialism, a subject the AIZ had covered sporadically since 1926.7 Packed with photographs and texts, the issue surveys the racial subjugation and capitalist exploitation of Black people by white racists, colonialists and terrorists, while at the same time detailing inspiring instances of Black activism and resistance. Its primary objective was to build solidarity among working people of all races: workingclass Blacks would recognize the fundamental role of class in their oppression (“wage slavery” having replaced slavery, for example, in the American case), while the white working-class would acknowledge the systemic racial and colonial violence endured by their Black “class brothers”. The special issue was a collaboration between James W. Ford and Willi Münzenberg, in concert with the AIZ ’s regular editors in Berlin. Münzenberg’s outsize role in the organization, on behalf of the Comintern, of a wide network of initiatives, associations and publications – including the AIZ – in western Europe during the 1920s and 1930s is now well known. That of Ford, much less so. Born in Alabama in 1893, Ford had been radicalized by his experience of racism as an African American serv ing in the US Army during World War I. After demobili zation, he became a trade union organizer on the South Side of Chicago; he joined the American Communist Party in 1926 and would later be nominated three times as its candidate for vice-president of the United States.8
fig. 2 Ob schwarz, ob weiß – im Kampf vereint!, original collage for the AIZ, 1931
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In 1928, Ford travelled to Moscow as a delegate to the Fourth Congress of the Profintern (Krasnyi internatsional’ profsoiuzov), which was the Comintern’s trade union wing. He also participated in the Comintern’s Sixth Con gress, presenting trenchant critiques of both the Amer ican party, for having failed to follow the international organization’s anti-racist directives and thereby draw Black workers into its ranks, but also the organization itself, for having neglected to agitate among workers and soldiers in colonial Africa, despite having had this task on its books since 1922, when Black activists Otto Huiswood and Claude McKay addressed its Fourth Con gress. In the wake of his intervention, Ford was appointed to a leading role in the creation of a “Negro Bureau” (Negritianskoe biuro) within the Profintern, which was charged with formulating and implementing twin poli cies of anti-racism and anti-colonialism. Ford wore sev eral other Comintern-related hats, including heading up the newly established International Trade Union Com mittee of Negro Workers. Located in Hamburg, the com mittee’s objective was both to encourage Black workers to join the trade union movement and to stamp out the rampant racism within unions that had hitherto prevented them from doing so. To that end, Ford edited and distrib uted a monthly magazine, The Negro Worker, and wrote numerous pamphlets addressing key problems. In con trast to the heavily photo-illustrated AIZ, however, these publications initially carried few if any photographs. According to Münzenberg, the idea for a special issue of the AIZ on race had been around for some time: “After having collected material for [more] than a year and hav ing corresponded with different Negro departments and bureaus, it has been finally possible to publish this num ber,” he writes.9 What prompted Ford and Münzenberg to spring into action was the urgency of the international campaign to save the falsely accused African American “Scottsboro boys” from the electric chair in Alabama. Featured on the issue’s front cover, accordingly, is an incarcerated young Black man, whose arms have been extended through the bars of a prison cell and wrists cuffed together on the outside so that he can neither move around nor sit down; punishment, the accompa nying text informs us, for having rebelled against the laws of America’s dollar democracy. With its clenchfisted, upraised arms, Heartfield’s full-page photomon tage on an inside page thus provides a vigorous riposte. Ford wrote the issue’s lead article, a double spread titled “The Black Race Joins the Red Front!”, in which he discusses the intersection of race and class in the oppression and exploitation of Black workers10 (fig. 3). In the upper left is a photograph of the author with Münzenberg and their colleague, the Malian activist Tiemoko Garan Kouyaté. Larger photographs show other Black leaders in action, including William L. Patterson, a union organizer and American Communist Party mem ber, and Lamine Senghor, a Senegalese-born member of the French Communist Party. Another article reports on the hundreds of thousands of people who rallied in German cities to commemorate the international Tag der Solidarität (Day of Solidarity), a festival organized by Münzenberg’s Internationale Arbeiterhilfe (Workers International Relief) over the weekend of 13–14 June 1931; KPD leader Ernst Thälmann and the Sierra Leo nean seaman and activist Forster-Jones are shown shar ing the podium at a rally in Hamburg, their arms raised and fists clenched in unison. But the majority of photo
fig. 3 James W. Ford, “Die schwarze Rasse stösst zur roten Front!” (“Black Race Joins the Red Front”), double-page spread from the AIZ, 1931
graphs, photocollages and texts in the issue document, by contrast, the horrific conditions of contemporary Black life: from the enslavement of Blacks in colonial Africa, to their appalling spectacularization as “display objects” (Schauobjekte) at the 1931 Colonial Exposition in Paris, to the ongoing and systemic mob-perpetrated and often state-sanctioned violence against, and lynching of, Africans under colonialism and African Americans under Jim Crow laws. “On the whole ... I think [the issue] came out all right,” Ford writes to his colleague George Padmore on 13 July 1931. “Such an issue was necessary to wake up some of our [white] comrades in Germany with regards to the Negro question.” As for its “practical value” 11 among peo ple of colour, Ford reports that the Hamburg Committee had sent copies to its various “connections”, and that the photographs alone had already had a strong impact on Black seamen in Hamburg. Padmore felt similarly: “Although our comrades in the colonies don’t read Ger man,” he writes, “the pictures will nevertheless have [a] propaganda effect.” (Indeed, the special issue would later become something of a photographic repository for The Negro Worker, when the latter began to reproduce photographs from it in 1932, under Padmore’s editor ship.) Both Ford and Padmore also called for the pro duction of English and French editions of the special issue, though these never came about. As for Münzen berg, he considered the issue to be, from both a “politi cal and technical” point of view, one of the AIZ’s “strong est” to date.12
fig. 5 The Pushkin Museum, Moscow, returns works by John Heartfield, with Andrej Guber and Gertrud Heartfield, June 1958.
The Comintern’s anti-racism and anti-colonialism project, shaped through the lens of class by Black activists like Ford and others, is thus a crucial aspect of Heartfield’s hitherto little-discussed Ob schwarz, ob weiß. Another key dimension of its story, however, concerns its migra tion from the pages of the AIZ to various other platforms between 1931 and 1971, each instance of which took on a new function and significance: 1. CALLING CARD: Having prepared the maquette for Ob schwarz, ob weiß in Moscow, Heartfield selected it to accompany an open letter to his “class brothers” that he published in Sovetskoe iskusstvo in July 1931, in order to introduce himself and his work to Russian readers (fig. 5). Its inclusion here positioned Heartfield’s visit to Moscow within the broader context of the Soviet Union’s rapidly escalating Scottsboro campaign.13 2. MEMORIAL: In the wake of the assassination in Jan uary 1961 of Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the then newly independent Republic of the Congo, Heartfield, in collaboration with his brother, published Ob schwarz, ob weiß, without its septet, in the East German daily Berliner Zeitung, on 26 February. The cap tion notes that since its first publication in 1931, millions have made its demand for racial unity their own. Signifi cantly, no mention is made of class. Instead, Heartfield’s montage now anchors a remarkable act of memorializa tion, in which the prime minister – who was neither com munist nor socialist – is added to a pantheon of legend ary figures of extraordinary courage and conviction from ancient, medieval, modern American and recent German history, all of whom were martyrs to their respective causes: Spartacus, Jeanne d’Arc, Lincoln, Liebknecht, Luxemburg and Thälmann. Like the names of these martyrs, the brothers conclude, “the name of Patrice Lumumba will shine through the centuries.” It is worth underscoring that the Lumumba memorial was Heartfield’s first redeployment of the montage since the recovery of its original maquette in 1958 from the crate in which it had been stored for almost thirty years in Moscow, in the wake of his 1931 solo retrospective in that city, where it had first been exhibited (fig. 5).
fig. 4 Privet brat’iam po klassu (Greetings to the class brothers), clipping from the Sovetskoe iskusstvo, 1931
3. LOGO: In late 1961, Heartfield repurposed Ob schwarz, ob weiß as the logo for a group exhibition, Im Kampf vere int!, organized in Berlin on the occasion of his 70th birth day (fig. 6). Appearing on multiple platforms – such as a billboard, the cover of the catalogue and inside an exhi bition space doubling as a lecture hall – the montage carries a modified text: “Ob weiss, ob schwarz, im Kampf vereint gegen des Friedens Feind!”14 (Whether black or white, in struggle united against the enemy of peace). World peace, not emancipation from capitalist exploita tion, was now the goal of racial unity in a world outraged by endless war, the persistence of fascism, ongoing attempts to suppress decolonization movements in Africa and Asia (“We were and are all closely united in the strug gle against war, fascism, and imperialism,” the artist explained) 15, and, presumably, also the threat of nuclear annihilation.
fig. 6 Ob schwarz, ob weiß – Im Kampf vereint!, advertising board at The Art Pavilion, Berlin, 1961 JOURNAL DER KÜNSTE 12
4. STAMP: In 1971, three years after Heartfield’s death, East Germany repurposed Ob schwarz, ob weiß as a postage stamp, to commemorate the United Nations International Year for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination (fig. 7). Perhaps the courageous, era-defining Black Power salute of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City – a gesture that was broadcast live on television and made the front pages of newspapers around the world – had something to do with this. Seven million stamps were issued. Seven million! That put at least six and a half million more reproductions of the maquette into circulation than the AIZ had been able to manage fig. 7 Ob schwarz, ob weiß, postage stamp, GDR, 1971 forty years earlier. Heartfield would surely have approved, not only because mass circulation was always his pri mary goal, but also because he had long ago understood that “stamps talk”.16 Each of these migrations demon strates the semantic elasticity of Heartfield’s original 1 Ob schwarz, ob weiß – im Kampf vereint! Wir kennen nur eine Rasse, wir kennen alle nur einen Feind – photomontage – its ability both to belong to, yet also die Ausbeuterklasse, AIZ, vol. 10, no. 26 (1931); transcend, the historical moment of its original produc Akademie der Künste, Kunstsammlung (henceforth tion and reception within the Comintern’s anti-racist KS), inv. no. JH 19. A kademie der Künste, KS, inv. no. JH 425. and anti-colonialist project of the inter-war years. It is 2 3 S ee Roland März and Gertrud Heartfield, eds, precisely that ability that gives Ob schwarz, ob weiß John Heartfield: der Schnitt entlang der Zeit (Dresden, its extraordinary power, to this day. 1981), pp. 190, 286. Warm thanks to Andrés Mario Zervigón for alerting me to the latter passage more than a decade ago, and to the staff of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin for their exceptional assistance. 4 M aria Gough, “Back in the USSR: John Heartfield, Gustavs Klucis, and the Medium of Soviet Propa ganda”, New German Critique, 107 (Summer 2009), pp. 147–48, 157. MARIA GOUGH is Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. Professor of Modern 5 Akademie der Künste, KS, inv. no. JH 1884. Art at Harvard University. She conducts research on the 6 S pecific dates were not given for the AIZ in 1931, only historical avant-gardes, especially in Russia and the Soviet issue numbers. Nonetheless, Wieland Herzfelde dates the montage to 4 July 1931 in his John Union, in their transnational contexts. Heartfield: Leben und Werk (Dresden, 1962), p. 350. 7 S ee Henrick Stahr, Fotojournalismus zwischen Exotismus und Rassismus. Darstellungen von Schwarzen und Indianern in Foto-Text-Artikeln deutscher Wochenillustrierter, 1919–1939, Schriften zur Kulturwissenschaft, vol. 57 (Hamburg, 2004), pp. 357–420. 8 M y discussion of Ford draws from Hakim Adi, Pan-Africanism and Communism: The Communist International, Africa and the Diaspora, 1919–1939 (Trenton, NJ, 2013), and Holger Weiss, Framing a Radical African Atlantic: African American Agency, West African Intellectuals and the International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers, Studies in Global Social History, vol. 14 (Leiden and Boston, 2014). 9 W. Münzenberg to Harry Pollitt, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain, June (?) 1931. Quoted in Weiss 2014 (see note 8), p. 407. 10 J ames W. Ford, “Die schwarze Rasse stösst zur roten Front!”, AIZ, vol. 26 (1931), pp. 510–11. 11 See Weiss 2014 (see note 8), pp. 407 and 410. 12 Ibid. 13 J ohn Heartfield, “Privet brat’iam po klassu”, Sovetskoe iskusstvo, 37 (18 July 1931), p. 2. 14 S ee, for example, Akademie der Künste, KS, inv. no. JH 1218. 15 Q uoted in Erika Wolf, Aleksandr Zhitomirsky, Photomontage as a Weapon of World War II and the Cold War (Chicago, 2016), p. 84. 16 See Heartfield, “Briefmarken sprechen”, Volks- Illustrierte, 24 (16 June 1937), p. 385 (Akademie der Künste, KS, inv. no. JH 219).
JOHN HEARTFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY PLUS DYNAMITE Today, nationalism and right-wing ideology are again a real threat. So it is all the more important to recall Heartfield’s political photomontages confronting war and fascism – and to question them again. The ex hibition “John Heartfield: Photography plus Dynamite” (21 March –21 June 2020) at Pariser Platz, gives us an opportunity to do so. It will subsequently be shown at the Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle (27 September 2020– 3 January 2021), and the Royal Academy of Arts in London (27 June –26 September 2021). Central to the exhibition – which begins with the reworking and digitisation of his legacy in the archive – is Heartfield’s creative process and the interaction of the arts, from book and stage design to photography and animated film. His complex field of reference, to Brecht, Grosz, and Piscator, among others, is rendered visible in works and documents, some of which are shown for the first time. The virtual exhibition, catalogue, and interdis ciplinary programme of events also throw light on previ ously unknown aspects of his biography, shaped by exile, his working methods, his network, and the contin uation of his themes in the digital realm, and allow both American and European voices to have their say. In addition, new historical perspectives are opened up by the experience of fake news and deepfake videos, and by images that contribute to war: Is the formal method of photomontage being continued with the aid of advanced techniques of image manipulation? What is the significance of the material, the process, and the stages in production? What has changed in the political use of images?
Exhibition curators: Angela Lammert, Rosa von der Schulenburg, Anna Schultz
The catalogue will be published in German and English, by Hirmer Verlag (312 pages, 309 colour illustrations), and Dutch by Uitgeverij Waanders & de Kunst, with texts by Vera Chiquet, Stephan Dörschel, Jeanpaul Goergen, Maria Gough, Steffen Haug, Meike Herdes, Haiko Hübner, Ralph Keuning/Bob Sondermeijer, Charlotte Klonk, Michael Krejsa, Prem Krishnamurthy, Angela Lammert, Rosa von der Schulenburg, Anna Schultz, Jindřich Toman, Erdmut Wizisla, and Andrés Zervigon and statements by Richard Deacon, Tacita Dean, Mark Lammert, Marcel Odenbach, and Jeff Wall. Maria Gough’s contribution to the catalogue is reprinted here.
LABOR BEETHOVEN 2020 A SPACE FOR IDEAS TO UNFOLD Caspar Johannes Walter
At the time Beethoven was working, around 1800, departures were being made in many areas, not just in music. In some scientific disciplines, in physics and mathe matics, the foundations of a new understanding of the world beyond the tangible were laid, a process to be completed by Einstein. These visionaries clearly exceeded the imaginable, as non-Euclidean geometry or the work with complex numbers demonstrates. The search for clues, the extent to which there might be overlaps with Beethoven’s spiritual world, has brought to light some extremely interesting aspects.
BEETHOVEN, REICHA, CHLADNI AND 1802
Ernst Florens Chladni experiment. Illustration from William Henry Stone, Elementary Lessons on Sound (Macmillan: London, 1879), p. 25.
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In 1802, Beethoven was productive and in a major crisis at the same time. He was losing his hearing completely and realised that this process was irreversible; he expressed his despair poignantly in The Heiligenstadt Testament. At only 32 years old, he had to say goodbye to the acoustic world and was left to rely solely on his imagination. Some of the works dating from this year are among his greatest and can be described as experimen tal in the best sense of the word. In 1802 and 1803, he worked on his third symphony, Eroica. The incorrect entry of the recapitulation in the first movement is mentioned here as representative of many other moments; here you hear two keys at the same time. The idea behind this is not so much a dissonance as the simultaneous presence of different temporal realities: As the orchestra articu lates the last bars of the development, the first horn is already trying to begin the first bar of the recapitulation. Beethoven experimented even more strikingly in his Piano Sonata No. 17, Op. 31, No. 2 (“The Tempest”), composed in 1801/02. The recitatives in the first movement are far removed from the profound reality of the remaining move ment. Strange harmonies mix in the sustained pedal. This exceeds the convention to such an extent that most edi tions and nearly all interpretations are unable to follow here; it is almost always retouched – despite the fact that the correct execution is breathtaking. In particular, the sudden and extremely dry entry using staccato chords
and fast figurations that follow on immediately from the second dreamy recitative reveal an existential crack in the structure of perception. Perception experiments are also demonstrated in the experimental physics of this time. Ernst Florens Chladni, who in 1802 first presented Die Akustik, which is still recognised as a standard work today, can be identified as a key figure in this context. Not only because of his statements on a music theory that, based on acoustic evidence, included the natural seventh in the canon of musically usable intervals (here, Chladni is in the com pany of many other scholars, such as mathematician Leonhard Euler), but especially because of his presenta tion and physical explanation of the sound figures. These figures came from an approach in experimental physics, where sounds cause powdered metal shavings on a metal plate to form different patterns depending on the fre quency. Chladni demonstrated this phenomenon all over Europe. So where is the connection between Chladni and Beethoven? This is where Anton Reicha comes into play. Reicha was a childhood friend of Beethoven’s; their paths often crossed in Bonn and later in Vienna, and they were also in contact in 1802. Reicha made hardly any fuss about his experiments, which is why they were all the more spectacular. It is certain that Beethoven learned a lot from this. The first point to note is a passage from the final chapter of Reicha’s compositional theory, in which Chladni’s experiment serves almost word for word as a starting point for the vision of new harmonious possibilities. “The sounds set the air that surrounds the sounding bodies in motion, drawing certain contours in it. So are these contours lines, rectangles, circles, ellipses, and so on? This is what we want to find out from the physi cists and mathematicians. A precise knowledge of this subject would enable us to outline on paper these melodic and harmonic contours that form the sounds in the air, and to compare the audible contours with the visible ones, which could lead to important discoveries regard ing the relationship between the two senses, vision and hearing. This would allow one to determine what the con fusion of music consists of, in other words, what (even to the trained ear) is comprehensible and what is not.” Other considerations in this text (translated into Ger man by Carl Czerny in 1832), which were also extremely important for the understanding of music theory in Beet hoven’s time, look far into the 20th century. For example, he specifically describes the potential uses of quarter tones and justifies the necessity of composite metres. But let us return to 1802.
music examples and a volume with twenty-four inde pendent compositions. A section of the book is given to each piece of music. Here, the questions each piece addresses are discussed. In addition to musical exam ples, which contribute to understanding the intellectual challenges, individual chapters also contain sample com positions, which can stand almost equal to the work in the scores. This demonstrates the incompleteness of the composition process as a principle. Both text and music form a space for ideas to develop. Many of the questions are unconventional. This includes music with no metre, non-tonal music, music with composite metres, music using an out-of-tune piano, form experiments, and reading experiments. Some of the pieces of music are, in their substance, provoca tively simple, and others are highly differentiated.
T HE EXPERIMENT AT LABOR BEETHOVEN 2020 Our group’s work can be compared to Reicha’s labora tory in many ways. The desire to experiment with music and perception reveals parallels with Beethoven and his time, expressed as follows by some of the laboratory’s composers and by a physicist who also joined the project: For me, experimentation goes far beyond complex sounds, the implementation of electronics, and formalist aesthetics as a depiction of the composer’s dexterity. I can but refer to Beethoven’s ideas. The greatest and most precarious experiment for a composer is to express their emotions through a contemporary aesthetic framework. The more we progress as a society, the more we as humans lose the ability to express emotion. The real chal lenge is to express through art the impact life has on the human emotional world. Manolis Ekmektsoglou, Composer Team Thessaloniki
My work can be described as listening experi ments. I use very simple sound materials that are placed next to each other in similar situations. The listener can easily understand the form through its uniformity. However, what is happening on this predictable surface is not important. Between anticipative listening and what is actually heard, a difference arises for the recipients that is differ ent for each of them. In this way, a sound expe rience that one does not encounter in everyday life is achieved. Adrian Nagel, Composer Team Basel
PRAKTISCHE BEISPIELE (PRACTICAL EXAMPLES) From 1799 to 1802, Reicha worked on the “practische Beispiele” project, which has only recently been pub lished. This was a thought and experimentation labora tory in the best sense. He questioned nearly every con vention in an almost systematic way. It starts with the format: the boundaries between theoretical text, exam ples from music theory, and musical composition as a single work became blurred. Or rather, these spheres overlapped and Reicha allowed the boundaries to appear blurred. The project consists of two parts, a text with
I believe that the experiment is the attempt to get further from my personal musical tendencies and preferences. It is trying to eliminate, as much as possible, these irrelevant egoistic elements from the artistic expression, and make it purer. I don’t believe that it is possible to achieve this 100 per cent (and perhaps it is not even desired …), but I do believe that it is an important ideal for the artist to strive for, and that every piece should contain experimentality to a certain extent. Ari Rabenu, Composer Team Tel Aviv
THE EXPERIMENT AS A PROCESS OF COMPOSITION, AND THE OLD SEARCH FOR THE NEW For several decades, attempts have been made to find new sound worlds, new forms, new methods of expres sion, and new conceptual states. In all these various aspirations, the search for the “new” is the common denominator. At the same time, the search for the new is itself the aspiration of the experiment as a compo sition process. Sound art develops in a world in which contexts are historically and culturally predetermined. In recent decades, the use of forms of expression or musical units that come from certain musical contexts has, to some extent, been turned into a referential method. On the other hand, in contrast to this, the use of musical units can be seen as overcoming and rejecting certain musical contexts. In a few exceptional cases, a work manages to remain neutral in regard to these two poles.
In my work, experimentation does not only mean the search for new sounds, formats, or situations. For me, experimentation as a process means the emergence of new contexts that are neither referential nor rejecting. The union of these con trasting elements creates a new context that exists in its own right. In an experiment, it is about operating in an unstable field and placing ele ments in a situation that has not been tested. Experimentation also took place in Beethoven’s quest to expand the orchestral body of sound, as can be seen from his efforts to expand the reg ister of the piano. The experiment as a process is what makes creativity vital. And the experiment is the only way that you can aesthetically and conceptually reinvent yourself. Anda Kryeziu, Composer Team Basel
Music theory and acoustics – in Beethoven’s time, these areas were still firmly interwoven with one another. Well-known scientists such as Ohm, Euler, Chladni, and Helmholtz published studies on the physical aspects of acoustics, as well as on the perception of sound and music theory. The scientific process of gaining knowledge was also to be addressed by “Labor Beethoven 2020”, for example by using an interactive and playable siren bike, based on the studies of Helmholtz and Seebeck. Andrea Heilrath, Physicist, Berlin
For me, to experiment with my music is to experi ment with my mind. To experiment with my mind is to withhold all automatic reactions and practise detachment from the self and from the material in order to let an external idea or concept reinvent itself through music. Akkad Izre’el, Composer Team Tel Aviv
Experiment is closely associated with discovery. And discovery is associated with invention. In a way every piece I write involves several aspects of experimentation. But perhaps most experi mental of all are the collaborative pieces I have been writing with Batya Frenklakh, where each piece is an investigation of a different mechanics of collaboration. The process of composition has involved improvisation, graphic notations, electro-acoustic interchanges, and card games(!), among other things, each time giving rise to very different sounds and modes of expression. Guy Rauscher, Composer Team Tel Aviv
These statements emphasise the level of reflection among the participants in “Labor Beethoven 2020”. In today’s digital world, we often encounter reality in a vir tual mirror image. In contrast to this, the new sensory experiences of physical reality produced through exper iment can be physically experienced. In today’s art, spiritual and aesthetic engagement with the world often takes place through virtual and digitised formats and is communicated discursively. Our perspective on the exper iment opposes this; direct sensory perception is under stood to be the starting point of aesthetic experience. Finally, a statement by Ruben Seroussi, a mentor from Team Tel Aviv, may provide evidence of this:
For our students from Tel Aviv this project and all the experience it offers is very influential: it cre ates a framework of collaboration and an ex change of ideas and feelings that furnishes them with a reference to other ideas and broadens their artistic horizons beyond that which can be of fered by the relatively small contemporary music scene in Israel. Contemporary music today faces many chal lenges (as it always has, but with a specific “updating”). Some relate to the expansion of the media – the means of expression – to the “special isation” syndrome which often “earns” perfection at the cost of spiritual de-contextualisation. Facing a multicultural world is one of the many other challenges. It is also important today – and I think this project has to some extent already shown great potential here – to erase the borders and the definitions of “centre” and “periphery” and create a common basis of cooperation, centred “neu trally” on some general references to Beethoven’s ideals in different aspects of creative action. A big part of the Beethovenian ideal is freedom of expression and the belief in art as an act of creation and an expansion of the world. This means, an art that creates new forms of “life” or artistic territories, new “natural laws”. We believe that the fruits of our “Labor Beethoven 2020” project will be the best example of this.
CASPAR JOHANNES WALTER is professor of com position at the Basel Music Academy. Since 2014 he has been a member of the Music Section of the Akademie der Künste.
Concert: Anda Kryeziu, Andrea Heirath, Justin Robinson, Thessaloniki 2019
Beethoven can be understood as a colleague, his boundary crossings as singularities, his environment and his time as an age of departure. These thoughts are taken up by “Labor Beethoven 2020”, a four-year project that will soon come to an end with the closing festival at the two Akademie der Künste buildings in March 2020. The focus has been on the artistic work of the group of young composers from the three universities of Basel, Tel Aviv, and Thessaloniki. It was important to give the protagonists space, time, and the opportunity to open up and define their own ideas, not just for their artistic works but also for their working methods, artistic formats, and choice of work partners. Discussion and reflection were a significant part of the engagement and, over the Andrea Heilrath / Caspar Johannes Walter: A musical bicycle, based on Helmholtz’s double siren
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course of time, revealed different themes and references.
Colours, in themselves, are meaningless. It is only in the specific context of their appearance or use that they trig ger certain emotions and take on meaning. The colour white as a concept seems to be above every emotion and representational determination, a bare something, which is why it serves as a standard example of the category of quality in the logical writings of Aristotle. But in the colonial novel A Passage to India by E. M. Forster, a cer tain Mr Fielding causes a scandal at the English Club when he casually remarks that the colour of his race is not white, but rather “pinco-grey”. The empirically cor rect observation, at least in regard to the facial tint of his fellow countrymen, is clearly an “impropriety”, just as unseemly as calling into question the god who is expected to save the King. Because in this society, “white” is the implied distinction of beings who are destined to reign. Not even the insight from evolutionary biology that the skin colour of Caucasians is, in truth, a deficiency, the defect of the “depigmented race” (Gottfried Benn) could shake this prejudice. The belief in the inherent superiority of “whites” probably comes from further afield: from the feudal world in which the pale complex ions of the nobility signalled the divine privilege of not having to work.
The questionable nature of the attribute “white” is of course not limited to the socio-political milieu. White is also a sensitive topic in the scientific context. Since Newton’s optical experiments, speaking of “white light”, which, when it is sent through a prism, splits into the spectral colours, which in turn, when collected by a lens, merge again to form a white beam of light, has caused persistent confusion. Light can be intense or weak, sometimes bright, sometimes less so – but it is not white in the strict sense of physics: unless as a phenomenon in the darkroom of experimentation. Whiteness is a sen sory quality, not a physical fact. Confounding scientific evidence with a psycho-physical phenomenon is the root of notorious discrepancies in colour theory. This includes the belief that the colour white contains all colours (including the achromatic ones?) – a clear instance of extrapolating from a particular property of visible light to the constitution of colours in general. Conversely, Cézanne highlighted - from the experience of the pleinair painter - the intrinsic sensual value of colour with almost provocative clarity: “La lumière donc n’existe pas pour le peintre.” To the painter’s eye, light only exists as an immanent property of colour, in the “harmonie générale” of colour sensation, and in the difference in
brightness of the individual colours. It is only in this rad ically empirical regard that the special colour character of white is revealed: the unique brightness that can be both glaring and reabsorb the surrounding colours, and is able to physically brighten up all other colours. Nonetheless, the difference between the light ele ment and the sensory quality is a petitesse, an academic dispute, compared to the contradictory perceptions of white in everyday culture. The ubiquitous presence of advertising promises to those obsessed with cleanliness that white is the colour of purity, freshness, and immac ulacy. But that is at best only half the truth. For the major ity of humanity who live in the Middle East and the Far East, white clothing is primarily associated with burial rites. Whereas black has been the colour of mourning in the West since the end of the Middle Ages, Muslims, Hin dus, and Buddhists remember the dead with the colour white, the “great silence”, which according to Kandinsky “is not dead, but rather full of possibilities”. This custom would even appear to have been the original one. The white wedding dress, incidentally, is supposed to have been introduced by Queen Victoria. Making a start in life and mourning the end of it, both celebrations seem to find the corresponding sensation in this colour. Thus, the
The remark that did him most harm at the club was a silly aside to the effect that the so-called white races are really pinco-grey. He only said this to be cheery, he did not realize that ‘white’ has no more to do with a colour than ‘God save the King’ with a god, and that it is the height of impropriety to consider what it does connote. E. M. Forster, A Passage to India (1924)
ambiguous conception of white – comparable in this regard only to the more intrusive red – exposes a scan dal of symbolic discourse that seems to appertain to the entire world of colours: it is not just that colours are per ceived differently in different contexts; no, in one and the same context, the same colour can assume oppos ing connotations. If there is a rule, or better an etiquette, for understanding colours, then it is the observance of contradictions that are not mutually exclusive; and white is the textbook example par excellence. Cultural history is full of such vicissitudes of reason. For example, the Roman historian Tacitus already knew of the white flag as a sign of surrender from legionnaires. However, this did not stop the French kings of the early modern period from waging war under the white banner of the commander-in-chief. The local traditions of the Old World paid little attention to unambiguity and uni versality. In 1570, Pope Pius V was probably the first to specify ritual colours in the Missale Romanum, the Catholic missal, definitively and in general in accord ance with the “universal” claims of the church: white for the high holidays of the ecclesia triumphans, black for Good Friday and funeral masses. An early modern attempt at such humanist attributions comes from
Thomas Rentmeister, Muda (detail), 2011, various materials (inc. refrigerators, Penaten cream, Styrofoam, laundry, sugar, paper, flour, candles, plastic parts, paper tissues, cotton swabs, Tampons, detergents), approx. 385 × 1195 × 1145 cm. JOURNAL DER KÜNSTE 12
Gerhard Richter, Snow White, 2005
Goethe, whose remarks on the “sensual-moral effect of colours” in the didactic section of his theory of colour were an important step on the way to exploring the cul tural reality of colours, even if he – as a result of his con troversy with Newton – simply ignored the effect of the “non-colour” white! It was only in the 20th century, with colour psychology, that a field of research claimed authority over the interpretation of all colours. Heavily application-biased, it tends to confound colour percep tion with consumer behaviour – and falls victim to the erroneous assumption that colours are an unambiguous offering. But the conflicting retort is not so easily dis pelled. More recently, interior design gurus have taken on modern living tastes and found that pure white is sim ply “hostile to life”, because the colour is prone to par alysing the nervous system: it is just as boring as it is overly stimulating, constantly causing tension and per sistently anaesthetising, a tranquilliser and a stimulant all at once. One hardly dares to think about what the true, relaxed, contradiction-free chroma of life could be: benign immersion in multi-colourism? It is not by chance that this latest trend in interior design had a precursor in the visual arts. During the course of the postmodern reckoning with the “purism” of mod
ern art in general and the Bauhaus idea in particular, the presentation forms for art in the 20th century have finally also been critically examined. Brian O’Doherty’s essay Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space (1976) can certainly be compared in terms of its influence on art discourse with Walter Benjamin’s essay Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzier barkeit (1935). Both authors share an interest in an in sufficiently observed change in the conditions for the reception of art. O’Doherty, who himself had worked as a conceptual artist, analyses how the homogeneous white gallery space, which had become the standard in the 1960s, transports works of art to a sphere of quasi-reli gious devotion: elevated from the production conditions and unsullied by the commercial calculations that lurk in the back room. This socio-cultural approach to a seem ingly self-evident fact provides a wealth of critical insights, but it is nevertheless too deeply rooted in the intellectual discourse of the New York art scene. Experienced art deal ers such as the doyen of the Basel Art Fair, Ernst Beye ler, soon realised that the ideal of the “white cube” was rather detrimental to business, because it suggested to private clients that the exhibits actually belonged in a museum – and not in the normal homely mix-up.
The problem with the white presentation space is in fact rooted in an art museum dilemma: What role did white play in the history of art? The art-historical consensus since, at the latest, Wolfgang Schöne’s book Über das Licht in der Malerei (1954) has been that the reflected light from white walls distorts the inherent brightness of traditional paintings that were created under differ ent interior light conditions. So, what colour should the walls be then? On the other hand, white walls seem to be appropriate for the presentation of modern works – and not only because the Bauhaus has shaped our living aesthetics and the Museum of Modern Art has defined the style in which works of art are presented: White is quite simply the characteristic colour of modern paint ing. This began in the 19th century with the alla prima method, the direct application of paint without any underpainting or glazes, practised in particular by the Impressionists; and was completed in the 20th century with the introduction of white as a primary pictorial col our in the paintings of such different artists as Matisse, Mondrian, Kandinsky, and Léger. Perhaps one day, when the bewildering diversity of individual expression no longer bemuses our judgement, we will recognise the colour white as the characteristic trait of modern art,
just as we regard central perspective as a common fea ture of Renaissance painting. The reasons for this are manifold. Certainly, the emer gence of photography contributed to a change in how pictures were conceived in painting. On the whole, mod ern paintings are no longer solid, self-contained arte facts incorporating messages or meanings, but imagi nary surfaces that will find their true existence only in the response of the spectator. But the main reason for the emancipation of the colour white in modern art is the profound lack of any objective cause supporting the endeavour called “art”. The white canvas appears to be a tabula rasa, a working surface that is essentially vacant, because all traditional inputs have vanished: the social mandate, binding iconography, artisan tradition. Only silence in music is comparable to this absolute manifes tation of the starting point for all modern art. The white emptiness can, in this context, even become blinding and intensify to form a blockade – and yet it is nothing but the reverse of what the simple-minded buzzword “artistic freedom” means. “I have nothing to say, and I am saying it” (John Cage). The shock of the void and the exhilaration in face of an unknown potential belong together. The exhibition “The Infinite White Abyss! Kan dinsky, Malevich and Mondrian”, in the spring of 2014 in Düsseldorf, celebrated this second side. But the triumph
of the great abstract painters is not the last word on whiteness. The “peculiar state of hopelessness, per plexity, and high spirits” (Gerhard Richter) persists. The “White Dimensions, Revisited” exhibition project by the Visual Arts Section shall track down this trail again.
“WHITE DIMENSIONS, REVISITED” September 2021 – January 2022 (Hanseatenweg) The wide spectrum of meaning of the colour white in the visual arts, and the attendant difference between the
ROBERT KUDIELKA, an art theorist and publicist, has been a member of the Visual Arts Section of the Akademie der Künste since 1997. From 2003 to 2012, he was director of the section.
material and the immaterial, is at the centre of a new exhibition and event project which will take place in the autumn of 2021 at the Akademie der Künste, involving numerous international artists and Academy members. Artistic and aesthetic practices which have developed continuously in certain international circles from the 1950s and 1960s until today and have led to a critical and process-based artistic approach will be investigated. At its centre will be the “Question of seeing … not slipping over things visually” (John Cage, 1961). Alongside colour and materiality in the visual arts, we will encounter themes like emptiness and nothingness – but also interdisciplinary references to silence and stillness, and to visible and invisible narration in literature, performance, music, and film, as well as in architecture – and the current discourse on postcolonial critique in the arts, against the back ground of white and whiteness. Anke Hervol, Wulf Herzogenrath
Ulrich Erben, Untitled, 1969, oil on canvas, 80 × 115 cm
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He was a person who felt marvellously at home, in every sense. Not only in particular cities like Budapest, Berlin, Paris, or New York, but in the city as such – he knew the flora and fauna of the city in the way a forester knows the woodland, the interconnections of invis ible roots, hidden paths, and the whole ecosystem of the forest. An urban writer, people tend to say of him in a journalistic vein – but it is hard to ignore the barely coded anti-Semitic overtone of this label; also, in Konrád’s case, it is not even true. He was at home not only in cosmopolitan cities but also in villages, including Berettyóújfalu, then a village, now a town, where he spent the first eleven years of his life; or Hegymagas, a village by Lake Balaton, his permanent home in his last decades. Large structures and small forms. It would be nice to write about him in such “strophes”. As if there was a unit of measurement called “a Konrád”. “Let all those come who want to; one of us will talk, the other will listen; at least we shall be together” – this is the final sentence of Konrád’s first novel, The Case Worker, completed in 1967 and published in Hungarian in 1969. The novel depicts a day in the life of a social worker looking after children, who “is in charge of the traffic of suffering” at a state welfare organisation in a poor dis trict of central Budapest. But that one working day – that partner- swapping dance – becomes a timeless state, masterfully described by Konrád with long sentences narrating simultaneous events. As we read in more and more detail about the same event, everything becomes more and more precise, yet at the same time more and more relative; question-marks alternate with assertions, and the short sentences following the long sentences as a counterpoint to these metatheses feel like the strike of a s ledgehammer. Konrád enlarges and distances things at the same time, his text is sensual to the point of feeling like a biological cell, and devastating in its naturalistic detail; yet at the same time the coun terforce of abstraction is at work: we also sense that what we are János Szegő reading and what we can see here is more than just the few vege tating families or wrecks of families in the ghetto of Százház Street, Strophes – this was György Konrád’s term for the single-page prose it is something more general: existence itself. In this sense, The texts he favoured in his final years. He made himself comfortable Case Worker resembles the 1962 novel Generation of Rust by in this text-space like a swimmer who knows exactly how many Endre Fejes, or Imre Kertész’s Fatelessness from 1975. While the breaths it takes to swim one lap. As his editor, there were times I former enjoyed considerable success among critics as well as was amazed at his skill in linking that small form to the larger struc readers as a key novel for understanding the Kádár era, which was ture – as if someone was parking a truck in a tiny free spot in a busy very slow to realise its own paradoxical class system, Kertész’s first city centre. Free spots: these were what Konrád was always look novel found its way into the mainstream of Hungarian literature ing for, and invariably managing to find; if there were none to be only years, or rather decades, later. Konrád’s entrée was between the two, both in time and in terms of its influence. So much for fam found, he created them, and was happy to welcome others there. ily constellations. While György Konrád was a well-respected member – in his last years, a patriarch – of the Hungarian literary family, as a writer he went his own way, which took him in a direction that highbrow Hungarian literature has been notoriously reluctant to follow: link ing literature and politics. Or rather, mapping the existing links and connections between the two. It was back in 1944, in Berettyóújfalu, that he started to study these links. In his autobiographical novel Elutazás és hazatérés
STROPHES ON THE DEATH OF GYÖRGY KONRÁD
(“Departure and return”), he imparts his findings in a laconic sen tence: “On May 15th, aged 11, I discovered that my father was no longer mine but the Gestapo’s.” Then he explains why a confec tioner who was a member of the fascist Arrow-Cross Party had denounced his parents. And the assessment that follows this story is the cruellest of all: if it hadn’t been for the false accusation that the Konrád family had had a secret radio transmitter in the attic, an accusation that resulted in the internment of Konrád’s parents, the whole family would most probably have perished in Auschwitz. But as things stood, the Konrád children deemed it best to leave their village and try to survive the months leading up to the libera tion in Budapest. In several of his works, Konrád immortalised the names of his relatives and classmates who perished in the Holo caust. That is how literature can become a memory wall against evanescence. Konrád was aware of his status (his role?) as a sur vivor: “As a survivor, I owe my greatest gratitude to Providence, yet much as I would like to regard it as something other than coinci dence, I am uneasy with every case of providential mercy. For if the Lord of Fates willed my survival, then why not the survival of the other children? They were no more guilty than I, after all. I cannot be so generous as to hand over Vera, Gyuri, Kati, Jutka, Jancsi, Gabi, or Ica, to say nothing of Aunt Sarolta, Uncle Dolfi, Aunt Giza, Uncle Náci, Aunt Ilonka, Uncle Pista, Aunt Margit, Uncle Béla, Uncle Gyula and the rest to complete oblivion.” Later on, these childhood friends and acquaintances become Holy Innocents in his prayer: “I beseech the shades, the spirits of those former schoolmates of mine who went up in smoke, János Baumöhl, Miki Feuerstein, Gábor Nemes, Vera Klein, and Baba Blau to protect my children and grandchildren.” It is unnecessary to give an account of Konrád’s life here, as he himself had done that in several stages. First, at the beginning of this millennium, in an autobiographical sequence of novels with a traditional narrative structure: A Guest in my Own Country and Fenn a hegyen, napfogyatkozáskor (“Up on the hill during a solar eclipse”). Then, after writing a few essayistic prose pieces, he cre ated a “director’s cut” of the former novels in a new sequence, Ásatás (“Excavation”), in which places and times, encounters and experiences, moments and permanencies intersect in a more asso ciative manner, as in some vast marshalling yard, modelling the nature of memory. Reading it I felt he was composing his legacy and, at the same time, that continuous experimentation was help ing him remain active. If there is such a thing as the lyric of thought, then there must be an epic of thought as well, and Konrád was perhaps the great est exponent of that genre. In the novels that followed The Case Worker, Konrád established a structure that is not based on fiction and reality, but is a combination of fiction and an essayistic-polemic analysis of various socio-political phenomena and problems. The City Builder was first published in a censored version, while The Loser was published in the “second public sphere”, i.e. in samizdat. It was a real internal emigration: he had to decide where to be at home in his own homeland. And with whom. Both his age and his mentality predisposed him to be an important figure – a father fig
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ure, if you will – of the democratic opposition. Konrád offered his radically political Antipolitics in a totally apolitical era, at a moment when global politics was focusing on Central Europe (or Eastern Europe, as it was called then). He was waiting for the centre to expand. Just as we are waiting for it now. Every day, he walked leisurely down to his writer’s cabin, which was furnished like an artisan’s workshop, and set about writing. It is perhaps because I knew his father had owned a hardware store that I saw him as a craftsman of the old school, with all his tools readily at hand as he sat at his writing table. The lights and the windows were important too, so that he would be alone, but could see and hear anything that might happen around him. To experi ence everything. Time had a habit of passing by differently in his office. There was plenty of it. Plenty of time in a small space. Just like in the workshop of a clockmaker. Yes, that is him, György Konrád, a master of time. Translated by Ágnes Orzóy.
JÁNOS SZEGŐ, a literary scholar and critic, has been an editor at the Magvető publishing house since 2011. He lives in Budapest. His obituary for György Konrád was published on 14 September 2019 in the online edition of the weekly magazine HVG (Heti Világgazdaság). GYÖRGY KONRÁD (2 April 1933, Debrecen – 13 September 2019, Budapest) became a member of the Akademie der Künste in 1991 and was its president from 1997 to 2003. For his social commitment, he was honoured with the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (1991) and the renowned International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen (2001). His literary archive has been in the Archives of the Akademie der Künste since 2019, following its presentation to the public at a memorial event on 25 November 2019. Selected works: The Case Worker (Hung. 1969; Eng. trans. Paul Aston 1974), The City Builder (Hung. 1977; Eng. trans. 1977), The Loser (Hung. 1982; Eng. trans. 1983), Antipolitics: An Essay (Hung. 1986; Eng. trans. 1984), A Guest in my Own Country (Hung. 2001; Eng. trans. Jim Tucker 2007), Inga (“Pendulum”) (Hung. 2008), Ásatás (“Excavation”) (Hung. 2017).
SNAPSHOT Helmut Oehring
XTRACTS FROM A CONVERSATION E IN MEMORY OF GEORG KATZER SEPTEMBER 2019 I was already in contact with Georg Katzer in 1989, and went to concerts such as the Paul Dessau Festival and the East German Music Festival. In other words, where you could learn something about the works of composers still alive in this divided Germany I grew up in. Actually, I came to contemporary music via the back door, because at the time I was working as a nightwatchman at a prop erty in Friedrichshain. Opposite this Gaststätte was a bookshop, and they were selling Frank Schneider’s book Momentaufnahme (“Snapshot”) for 50 Ostpfennigs.1 At the time, however, I was not at all interested in compos ers, but in photography. The title put me on the wrong track. I took a quick look inside, didn’t know anyone, and thought: it could be interesting. At that time, I had a gui tar in the Gaststätte where I was working, and in the book there were some examples of music – Schenker, Katzer, Goldmann, Bredemeier, and Dietrich. I played them all. That was exactly the key, and I thought it was somehow cool, somehow different, totally gross, totally weird too. Everything that I didn’t necessarily know about that form from pop music or rock or jazz. And then, outside this Gaststätte, of all places, there was an advertising pillar and it said: “Paul Dessau Festival – Palast der R epublik”. Which wasn’t exactly where I used to hang out in those days. But I went, and I saw all those guys mentioned in the book and heard the music. The first thing I heard was a piece by Friedrich Schenker, “Missa Nigra”.2 And that broadened my horizons. It turned my whole thinking – about what you can do on stage – completely upside down. The fact that I started with a string quartet was actu ally an accident, because I stole a record and there were string quartets by Bartók on it. And I thought, “Oh, great rhythms. I’ll do that.” And, of all things, I engineered a meeting with Georg Katzer – he didn’t know me at all. I spoke to him by the Palast der Republik and he said: “I’ve got things to do at the Deutsches Theater”. So I had my string quartet under my arm and something else for orchestra and he said: “Come over here into the side street”. He had his car at the Deutsches Theater and he looked at the sheet music on the roof of the car and said:
“Well, it’s interesting, strange anyway, but you’re short of everything.” Then he gave me the decisive tip: “You know what? Just write down four-part Bach movements. Just copy them down, don’t even read them afterwards.” And why am I telling you this? Georg Katzer was not only one of the most important, perhaps the most impor tant composer, not only in Germany – or East Germany anyway. Being broadly based, in itself, is not a mark of quality. The interesting thing about Georg was that he had songs for guitar accompaniment and at the same time this huge oeuvre, and then the electroacoustic music, and then he performed on stage with jazz musi cians. That was unheard of. He didn’t turn up his nose at people who didn’t know what he was talking about when he explained how he put together his material. He knew precisely there was no point telling me: study harmony and counterpoint and all the nonsense that you learn at the university for six years, and then you can come and see me again. And so began my journey to Georg Katzer and my first lesson in Zeuthen. At his place I got a coffee and a Duplo – we were Westernised by then – and then I composed a piece. That was an important piece for me at that time, had to do with the fall of the Wall and with East–West, but without text. And he – like a magician – knew exactly which bits weren’t right: where it’s wobbly, where the structure doesn’t hold together properly, where the grav itational force is that unfolds, why it doesn’t work in this or that area. And then he just pointed out, “You’ll have to give this bit another go.” I was over 30. It felt like half my working life was already behind me and suddenly I was a masterclass student. So I didn’t want anyone tell ing me anything I already knew. At that point I knew that this wasn’t only educationally a different approach – because he didn’t use the red pen or have any airs about him. The kind of inflated ego that some teachers have, who have just arrived and are already saying: “Look, you have to do it this way and not that.” That was totally for eign to him. This immediate feeling of being treated as an equal by someone who’s actually in a different posi
tion – that’s the phenomenon you encountered with Georg Katzer. I don’t know any musician – and I’ve been in the business for thirty years now – who doesn’t speak highly of their collaboration and encounters with Georg the person and the composer. Not all composers can say and hear that about themselves. He had a demeanour, a sense of fairness, a sincerity, but nevertheless an uncon ditional and unscrupulous manner when it came to form and content. He was one of those people who are not just artists, but incredibly autonomous, original, highly uncon ventional, and who can communicate that as well. He was a very communicative artist, certainly, but that didn’t limit the abruptness, form, and precision of the al most guerrilla-like activity in his scores. After all, he didn’t abandon the essential gold dust that he wanted to cap ture in a work at the expense of communication. And the fact that someone can build a bridge between the essen tial – what do I as an artist, as a composer, actually want to commit to paper and make audible – and the ambition to be communicative, to know exactly where to connect with listeners, that has to do with timing, content, title, etc. That, I think, makes him one of the very greatest com posers we know. A guy who writes for accordion, for small children, amateurs, and gigantic oratorios, and then just goes on stage as an adventurer with jazz musicians and flips a few levers, and you don’t really hear what’s hap pening, but it happens. Who believes in the magic of the sounds and in the power of transformation that lies in the magic of these sounds that he sends out into the world. That’s why he really is definitely one of the great est composers we know.
1 Frank Schneider, Momentaufnahme: Notate zu Musik und Musikern der DDR (Leipzig: Reclam, 1979). 2 “ Missa nigra” (1978) is a chamber piece in which the musicians are performers, speakers, and singers at the same time. It was composed by Friedrich Schenker to mark the end of the neutron bomb planned by the USA at the end of the 1970s.
HELMUT OEHRING is a composer, choreographer, author, and director. From 1990 to 1992, he was Georg Katzer’s masterclass student at the Akademie der Künste, of which he was elected a member in 2005. The extract is taken from a conversation in memory of the composer Georg Katzer, who died on 7 May 2019. It took place between Helmut Oehring, Folkmar Hein, Ralf Hoyer, Ulrike Liedtke, and Frank Schneider at the festival KONTAKTE '19 on 29 September 2019. On 6 May 2020, a concert of electroacoustic music by Georg Katzer will be given in the series EM4 | Berliner Studios.
Georg Katzer, workshop for electroacoustic music “Kontakte I”, 1980, Konrad-Wolf Hall, Akademie der Künste der DDR (East German Academy of Arts)
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NEWS FROM THE ARCHIVES
WAR ON THE AIRWAVES
“10 Years”, broadcast manuscript, p. 1, Ufa, January 1943
HEDDA ZINNER’S WORKS
FOR COMINTERN RADIO Despite the fact that the writer Hedda Zinner (1905–1994) is largely unknown to the wider public today, she was at the centre of the lit erary scene throughout her life. She was a member of the Associ ation of Proletarian-Revolutionary Authors, an actress and author at Studio 1934, a theatre for exiles in Prague, and worked for Ger man-speaking radio in Moscow and Ufa. After returning from exile, she became the most famous playwright in the GDR, until she turned to prose and TV plays just as successfully in the mid-1960s. Her extensive legacy in the Literature Archives of the Akademie der Künste is now open and accessible for research. Hedda Zinner, 1950s
“Attention! Attention! Here is the Sudeten German Free dom Radio!” This was how a supposedly pirate radio sta tion announced itself every day on short wave from the underground in occupied Bohemia and Moravia during the Second World War. News, political commentaries, and daily reports from the Sudetenland were aired, directed at the local German-speaking population. However, it was in fact broadcast from the Bashkir city of Ufa on the edge of the Urals, where the Communist International (Comintern) and their foreign-language broadcasting services had been evacuated to when the German troops were standing before the gates of M oscow at the end of 1941. In addition to the Sudetendeutscher Freiheitssender (Sudeten German Freedom Radio), at times up to seventeen other foreign-language stations were pretending to be broadcasting illegally. This included a Czech and a Slovak broadcaster, and three other German-language institutions: the Deutscher Volkssender (German People’s Radio), the Österreichis cher christlicher Sender (Austrian Christian Radio), and the Sender der SA-Fronde (SA-Fronde Radio), which according to legend was operated by opponents within the organisation. In order to be convincing, the language had to sound authentic and dialectically genuine. The secret broadcasters were an important psychological weapon of the Allies in the struggle against National Socialism. Their task was to debunk the propaganda of the enemy and urge resistance; the truth was subordi nated to agitation. One of the regular contributors was Hedda Zinner (1905–1994), a young emigrant from Germany, who had grown up in Vienna and trained as an actor at the Raimund Theater. Her father was an imperial and royal official, who had taken Czech citizenship after the dis solution of the Habsburg Empire. In 1933, she emigrated from Berlin to Prague with her husband, the German jour nalist Fritz Erpenbeck, where she spent the first two years of exile. This meant that she knew the mentality and language of the population in the German-Czech
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border region. Zinner had already worked for radio in Moscow, sometimes speaking herself and in particular writing texts, including radio play scenes based around a character borrowed from the musical comedy Im Weißen Rößl (“The White Horse Inn”): the conservative entrepre neur Giesecke, who travelled the Soviet Union, initially sloganeering but then becoming impressed by the achievements seen there. In her recollections, Zinner states that she worked for the German, Austrian, and Sudeten German broadcast ers, whereas Erpenbeck worked for the Sender der SA-Fronde. The radio manuscripts passed down in the bequest can only occasionally be attributed to a specific broadcaster, but the content indicates that she wrote a particularly large number of contributions for the Sude tendeutscher Freiheitssender. Zinner describes how the management laid the researched material for the broad casts on the editors’ desks: transcribed reports from Großdeutscher Rundfunk, articles from German news papers, including the Völkischer Beobachter, and inter cepted letters sent between German soldiers and their families. The letters spoke an entirely different language to the official statements in Nazi Germany. The concerns and fears expressed and the grief over those who had been killed in action provided particularly good fuel, if you wanted to reach the hearts of potential listeners. Hedda Zinner happily picked up on absurd reports in order to comment sarcastically on them. Such as a report on vegetable gardens kept by German soldiers in enemy territory, another on the cosy accommodation on the Eastern Front, and a third on a sports festival for injured veterans in Berlin. Just a few words were enough to expose the blatancy behind the reports. Often, the occa sion for a contribution also seems to have been faked: for example, an SA man from Reichenberg and his heart felt reckoning with the party, which ten years after the seizure of power still had not abolished “plutocracy” and was responsible for the exploitation of women and the suffering of men during the war. The man may just as
well have been invented as a listener from Teplice, who recounted conversations between locals and soldiers on home leave. In addition to commentaries in prose, Hedda Zinner regularly wrote verse, in which she commented on the events of the war. These were not poems in the narrower sense, but rather rhyming agitation. A frequently recur ring figure for her was Max, a friend who sent poems to the Sender der SA-Fronde. In “Deutsche Weihnachten 1941” (“German Christmas 1941”), he reminds the listen ers that the war against the Soviet Union was supposed to be over by the end of that year, but the trains heading homeward were filled with the wounded instead of victo rious troops. “Yes: Trains, they roll and roll – / but burst ing with bloody freight.” The appraisal given on 30 Janu ary 1943 in the poem “10 Jahre” (“10 years”) was even worse. In this piece, a soldier speaks at Stalingrad as the steppe wind whistles “through coat and skirt”. NSDAP rule led to war and death instead of work and prosperity. Openly or covertly, Zinner’s contributions called on the soldiers at the front and those at home to desert and resist. Although it may seem strange from today’s per spective, the radio broadcaster in Ufa also relied on the SA, who they hoped would revolt against the SS. This is the subject of Zinner’s poem “SS – Die schwarze Schmach” (“SS – the black shame”), in which the SA are called to fight the “Himmlerhunde” (“Himmler’s dogs”). The chorus, which is, however, crossed out in the man uscript, says: “SA man, forward! SA man, attack!” The backs of Hedda Zinner’s rare radio manuscripts, which were usually written on scrap paper from the broadcasting operation, are also of historical interest. They often document intercepted radio news from Germany, Great Britain, and the USA – and sometimes from France and Czechoslovakia too – in the original language. They were intended for internal use and show which reports made it through to Ufa. They also include reports from Moscow radio. One peculiar circumstance of Zinner’s work for the radio was that she gave birth to her son in Ufa – greeted by Georgi Dimitrov, the then general secretary of the Comintern, as the “first Comintern child” during the evac uation. Erpenbeck had been ordered back to Moscow by the party and medical care was anything but assured. Nevertheless, Zinner continued to write until immedi ately before the birth and resumed her work again soon afterwards. This was only possible with the help of friends, including the partner of the refugee Herbert Wehner, and an Estonian nanny who then had to stay behind when Zinner went back to her husband in Moscow after one and a half years. She was also inspired to carry out this work by the fact that after years of Stalinist persecution and the bewildering Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the image of the enemy was clear again. After the non-aggression pact of August 1939, broadcasts directed against Hitler disappeared from transmission literally overnight. Only the German attack on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 brought a turnaround.
CARSTEN WURM is a research assistant at the Literature Archives of the Akademie der Künste.
NEWS FROM THE ARCHIVES
“I AM VERY POOR AT TYPING, BUT PUNCTUAL IN COMPLETION” AN EXCERPT FROM DIALOGE FÜR DEN URENKEL. ANMERKUNGEN UND HINTERGRÜNDE ZUM WERK DES FILMEMACHERS EBERHARD FECHNER (“STORIES FOR THE GREAT-GRANDCHILD: COMMENTS ON AND BACK GROUND TO THE WORK OF THE FILMMAKER EBERHARD FECHNER”)
Matthias Dell Shortly after turning away from Theater Mitte and join ing Egon Monk’s television department at NDR in the mid-1960s, Eberhard Fechner began working on his own material, which was to be his debut as a television direc tor: Selbstbedienung. The idea came from a newspaper article about three youths who had broken into a depart ment store in West Berlin on 18 May 1965, the day Queen Elizabeth II visited the city. In particular, it is the drama turgical weaknesses – the various attempts by the delin quents, their amateurism – that point to Fechner’s style here: he does not see the story as an article based on a police report that lends itself to being turned into a film dramatisation focusing on suspense and comedy; instead he wants to reconstruct the real events in a strictly doc umentary sense in his “television play”. To this end, he researches the case himself rather than simply adapting it to the logic of a screenplay. He returns to his desk after interviewing the burglars in prison, enthused by “the sentences they generated, the way they expressed their thoughts”, as evidenced by notes he left behind as part of his legacy. The slang used by the youths is included in the production as dance-like spoken per formances: “Was hier an Taxen ankommt, ist ’ne Sage / Da jehn ein’m doch die Schnürsenkel uff / Dann hat der keene Puseratze mehr.” (What arrives here in taxis is a legend / It’s enough to drive a person mad / then he has no more money.) This may appear strangely ambivalent from today’s perspective: On the one hand, the play seems artificial and staged, not at all direct and true to life. On the other hand, using this device, Selbstbedie nung archives idioms that have to be looked up in a dic tionary today (Puseratze is money). After Selbstbedienung, Fechner shot four more films using a similar approach and style: Damenquartett (1968/69, NDR Editorial Department: Dieter Meichsner), Tatort: Frankfurter Gold (1970/71, HR Editorial Depart ment: Hans Prescher), and Geheimagenten (1971, HR Selbstbedienung, 1967. Wolfgang Condrus, Jurgen Draeger, Wolfgang Giese
Editorial Department: Prescher). Aus nichtigem Anlaß (NDR Editorial Department: Meichsner) was produced in 1973 but could not be broadcast until 1976 due to legal disputes arising from Fechner’s working methods. The films are all about real crimes, which Fechner researched in a documentary manner in order to enact them in dra matic form. This true-crime format, which is immensely popular in the age of streaming services such as Netflix, points to the timelessness of Fechner’s television – and even if these films are not exactly accessible in their originality, this makes them worth rediscovering in terms of audience interest fifty years later. The method can be described in more detail using the example of Frankfurter Gold – the first Tatort episode to be contributed by Hessischer Rundfunk to the federally conceived and therefore unexpectedly long-running crime series initiated by ARD as a response to the suc cess of Herbert Reinecker’s ZDF series Der Kommissar. Tatort’s beginnings were improvised; the first episode, Taxi nach Leipzig (November 1970), with Hamburg’s Inspector Trimmel (Walter Richter), was no more specif ically produced for the label than the four WDR episodes with Customs Investigator Kressin (Sieghardt Rupp), or Fechner’s Hessischer Rundfunk project, which began in 1968, before Tatort was conceived. Frankfurter Gold was finally broadcast on 4 April 1971 as the sixth film in the crime series and was to influence the casting of the pro tagonists – having appeared once as Inspector Konrad, Fechner’s actor Klaus Höhne appeared in seven other cases on Tatort up until 1979. The true-crime format, with which Jürgen Roland’s Stahlnetz series (1958–68) had already flirted, initially also played a role in the conceptually open thinking behind Tatort. How quickly one moved on from this how ever, how inessential these considerations were, is shown in a good-humoured interview with Kressin creator Wolfgang Menge in the magazine Fernsehen und Film (April 1970). Menge says: “Yesterday I was at Süddeut scher Rundfunk. They want to make a Tatort series to gether at ARD. They had invited a criminal detective to discuss […] so-called real cases. We then discussed these with him. He told us about phenomenal real cases. But after he had left, we still had points to resolve. This was lacking in one case, that was lacking in another. But then we came up with an immensely complicated case.” “Ques tion: Came up with? Menge: Yes. Question: So what did you need the police officer for? Menge: For authenticity.” Unlike for the ironically minded Menge, authenticity was no joke for Fechner. Hans Prescher, then head of television drama and feature films at Hessischer Rund funk, had the idea of filming the true story (reported in the newspapers at the time) of a fraudster who had cre ated a pyramid scheme with the help of a resourceful forger using gold-painted lead bars to take money from solvent people. At the end of the 1960s, a time when Fechner was very busy, Prescher contacted him, trying to secure his cooperation. On 29 August 1968, he wrote to the director, making reference to a previous, personal conversation in which they had agreed to send each other possible material: “I just found the enclosed story in the local newspapers yesterday: perhaps the topic of ‘counterfeit gold’ and the astonishing reaction of others to fraud associated with gold is a topic that might inter est you. But first just let me know if you are interested in this story. During our conversation we had already agreed that we would have to discuss a very long-term
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Frankfurter Gold, 1971. Set photo with Eberhard Fechner (on the right).
cooperation due to your other commitments”. Fechner replied on 22 September, just as he was in the middle of rehearsals for the production of Doppelkopf at Schauspielhaus Hamburg, his last foray into theatre under the brief artistic directorship of Egon Monk. “You know my methods, presenting material from contem porary events as realistically as possible. It would there fore be essential, even in this case, for me to conduct recorded interviews with as many of the people who were involved in this story as possible.” He also requested that, “the material is registered with the competent court as a precautionary measure, the names of the perpetra tors and the scheduled date of the hearing are researched, and also that they wait for the hearing itself.” Fechner seemed to find the material appealing. Three days later, Prescher wrote: “It will be sufficient if we contact each other again in the spring of next year. According to our current arrangements, it would be sufficient if you were to complete the screenplay in the second half of 1969, so we can film the first half in 1970.” Although Fechner expressed his consent in a letter dated 8 November (“I find the matter just as interesting as before, so we should do everything in our power to realise our project”), the schedule could not be complied with. Prescher did not contact Fechner again until 19 June 1969, in order to discuss the development of the real proceedings. As it had become clear that the trial would not be resumed in 1969, the alleged fraudster, a man called Blum, had meanwhile been released from custody. “However, the indictment is finished, and a senior Frankfurt criminal detective is willing to provide you and us with access to the files, and to inform us of the state of affairs for our project. It would certainly also be possible for you to speak directly to Mr Blum.” In his response of 28 June, Fechner believes he will be able to start working on the screenplay in October and November 1969.
On 3 May 1970, Fechner sent the screenplay to Prescher: “I apologise for the many typos in my screenplay. I am very poor at typing, but punctual in completion.” He also pointed out what was important to him in the film: “Only 10 of the 34 reels of film need more than one day of shoot ing! I believe that I have been very frugal with this. How ever the material, which is entirely dedicated to the abstract world of financial manipulations, requires a wide range of different venues as an equivalent. In the interest of how vivid I would like the presentation to be, this can not be dispensed with under any circumstances.” Prescher praises the result in his handwritten response of 8 May. He had read the screenplay “with great pleasure”. “I think you have handled the pretty complicated material well.”
MATTHIAS DELL is a culture journalist and critic in Berlin.
Excerpt from: Matthias Dell, Dialoge für den Urenkel. Anmerkungen und Hintergründe zum Werk des Filmemachers Eberhard Fechner (“Stories for the great-grandchild: Comments on and background to the work of the filmmaker Eberhard Fechner”), in Rolf Aurich and Torsten Musial, eds, Eberhard Fechner. Chronist des Alltäglichen, on behalf of the Akademie der Künste and Deutsche Kinemathek (Munich: edition text + kritik, 2019). The recently published volume is the fourth in the series Fernsehen. Geschichte. Ästhetik (Television. History. Aesthetics).
NEWS FROM THE ARCHIVES
Johann Gottfried Schadow, Das Publikum auf der Kunstausstellung, zinc-print, 1831
“EACH VISITOR PAYS EIGHT GROSCHEN ... AND LADIES ARE ADMITTED FREE OF CHARGE.” THE EXHIBITION CATALOGUES OF THE AKADEMIE DER KÜNSTE, 1786–1943
Susanne Nagel and Werner Heegewaldt
Thanks to Daniel Chodowiecki’s initiative and the reform efforts within the Academy, the society of artists has regularly organised exhibitions since 1786. The art salons, initially produced annually and later every two years, were for a long time a defining medium in Prussian art and cultural life, enjoying acclaim throughout Germany. For the first time, artists from Berlin and elsewhere had the opportunity to show their works and, from 1832 onward, to sell them. The exhibitions gave visitors an overview of contemporary art. At the same time, as a meeting place for society, they offered an open and cri tical forum in which artists, art, and the public came together directly. No longer was courtly taste alone decisive, but rather selection by an academic jury and the influence of public discourse. In contrast to the salons of the Dresden and Paris academies, which served pri
marily as showcases for members’ work, the Academy in Berlin opened participation to all interested parties. A broad spectrum of artists was represented in the exhi bitions, from so-called dilettantes to reputed artists. The exhibited works were organised according to the disci plines of architecture, sculpture, painting, drawing, and graphic art, although the focus and thus the layout of the exhibition rooms changed over the years. In addition to promoting the fine arts, the Prussian state was inte rested in making the applied arts internationally compe titive and ensuring that outstanding products were exhibited. In the second half of the 19th century, art salons faced competition from the growing art market, Kunstvereine, and alternative exhibition venues. The Academy exhibi tions slowly lost their status as innovative shows and as
the sole platform for contemporary art. The academic exhibition system stagnated; during the imperial period it was considered conservative, a domain for traditional conceptions of art. The Great Berlin Art Exhibitions were scorned by the critics as mass shows that, despite meet ing the public’s taste, failed to accommodate young art ists and new trends. It was only the emergence of the Secession at the end of the 19th century that provided new impetus and established public platforms for the artistic avant-garde. Individual members participated in this process, but not the Academy itself. Max Liebermann’s presidency marked a new beginning after the First World War: the co-founder of the Berlin Secession reopened the Academy to contemporary art. Important means to this end were the exhibition system and the election of new members. In addition to presentations of members’ work, this included exhibitions of older art. Despite the polar isation in the Visual Arts Section between a conserva tive majority and the president and his supporters, it pro vided a platform and point of reference for artistic debate until the political straitjacket was imposed in 1933. The exhibition activities have been documented in cat alogues since 1786. These rare records provide detailed information on the artists involved (many of them mem bers or students of the Academy), on art collectors, and on the works exhibited and available for sale. From 1880 onward, illustrations of selected works were also included. Chronicles of the Academy’s history (1786– 1892 in the catalogues, 1893–1910 in separate publica tions), information on the exhibitions, and advertise ments from the art market added to the overall content. The news chronicles provide information on academic training, programmatic issues, members’ particulars, art scholarships, and acquisitions for the collections. They also summarise past exhibitions and afford insights into the Berlin art scene. The form, scope, and content of the catalogues have changed considerably over time. The following series can be distinguished:
A Exhibitions of the Akademie der Künste, 1786–1892 B Great Berlin Art Exhibition, 1893–1943 C Spring and autumn exhibitions of the Akademie der Künste, 1919–1943 D Special exhibitions of the Akademie der Künste, 1885–1943 E Chronicles of the Akademie der Künste, 1893–1910 Until 1892, the Academy was alone in curating its exhi bitions. But the Association of Berlin Artists’ ongoing criticism of the terms of eligibility and selection criteria for the artworks led to the association acquiring equal status as co-organiser and sharing in the proceeds. From 1893, the salons were known as the “Great Berlin Art Exhibition”. After the First World War, the Academy ceased to be a co-organiser, although members conti nued to use the salons to present their works. The dif fering opinions on content played a role here, but so did the fact that the society of artists again had its own pre mises for staging events when it moved into the building at Pariser Platz 4 in 1907. One of the reforms introdu ced by the new president Max Liebermann was the esta blishment of spring and autumn exhibitions at which members showed their works. Concurrently, there were thematic exhibitions devoted to individual artists, histo rical themes, or non-European art, some of which were held in cooperation with Berlin museums. Important ret rospectives were devoted to outstanding members such as Carl Blechen (1921), Max Liebermann (1917), Adolph Menzel (1885, 1935), and Johann Gottfried Schadow (1909). Thematically, the scope was also extended to internati onal art: “American art” (1926, 1931/32), and “East Asian”, “Chinese”, and “Japanese art” (1912, 1929, 1931, 1934). As a mirror of more than 150 years of exhibition and art history, the catalogues are now an exceptional and much-used source, especially for Prussian art and cul
tural life. They are of particular value for provenance research, as they allow the history of works of art, their authors and, to some extent, their owners and collectors to be traced. In combination with the files of the Prus sian Akademie der Künste, which can be accessed online, the exhibition catalogues offer excellent research oppor tunities. Although the records are incomplete, the 19th century in particular is well documented in terms of orga nisational issues, jury decisions, awards for works of art, market prices, and public response to the exhibitions. In various cases it is even possible to trace the sale of indi vidual works of art, as demonstrated by the example of Eugen Bracht’s painting Die Blutrache, which was shown at the anniversary exhibition in 1886 and sold for 5,000 marks to “J. Prowe in Moscow”.1 Art historians were quick to appreciate the value of the catalogues, which had not been preserved in their entirety in any library. This finds expression in a facsim ile edition produced in 1971, comprising the catalogues from 1786 to 1850.2 Heidelberg University Library has collaborated with the Archives of the Akademie der Künste to digitise 173 catalogues with around 80,000 works by 12,000 artists, and they can now be viewed online in the digital collections of the University Library. This archive is based on the holdings of the Academy Library, to which already digitised volumes from the Hei delberg collection will be added. The aim is to record an almost complete series of catalogues online in one place. Since the roughly 18,000 catalogue pages have been indexed with the help of electronic text recognition, the entire content is now searchable. This includes the names and work titles from the catalogue sections as well as the chronicles, accompanying texts, and adver tisements. In addition, work has begun on a complete electronic index of all the artists’ names contained in the catalogues, to allow targeted access to individual cat alogue entries. The index contains links to the Integrated Authority File (Gemeinsame Normdatei = GND) of the German National Library and thus makes it possible to clearly identify the artists and retrieve additional bio graphical information. In future, the catalogues will also be available in the archive’s digital showcase, which is currently under construction. The project has been funded by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe in Berlin, which is represented by the Research and Com petence Centre for Digitisation Berlin (digiS).
1 Jubilee Exhibition of the Kgl. Akademie der Künste, Berlin 1886, p. 31, no. 140, and PrAdK I.0394, p. 9 (exhibition sales 1886–1888). 2 Helmut Börsch-Supan, ed., Die Kataloge der Berliner Akademie-Ausstellungen, 1786–1850, 2 vols (Berlin: B. Hessling, 1971).
SUSANNE NAGEL is a research assistant at the Library of the Akademie der Künste. WERNER HEEGEWALDT is director of the Archives of the Akademie der Künste.
The exhibition catalogues of the Akademie der Künste from 1786 to 1943 have been digitised and are available online: https://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/de/sammlungen/adk.html. Catalogue for the first exhibition of the Prussian Akademie der Künste, 1786
JOURNAL DER KÜNSTE 12
STRIKING A CHORD: THE DISCOGRAPHIC BEETHOVEN Clemens Trautmann
“Must it be?” This question – borrowed from Beethoven’s handwritten comment on his last string quartet – can always be asked during anniversary celebrations and commemorative years, but is particularly appropriate on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth. Why commemorate an oeuvre that is already one of the most performed in the world? How is it possible to avoid the trap of overplaying “Für Elise”, the “Moonlight Sonata”, or “Ode to Joy”?
And from a discographic point of view, there are more non-trivial questions to be answered: given the almost ubiquitous availability of his music, is a new complete Beethoven edition in the digital age capable of yield ing new insights and musical experiences? According to estimates by Deutsche Grammophon, the combined playing time of global Beethoven streams is currently 750 years every month, and the millennium barrier will probably be broken in time for the anniversary in Decem ber 2020. Is an edition curated with professional author ity even desirable, or does it stand in the way of offbeat discoveries? “It must be!” Despite all legitimate questions, the answer is just as definitive and emphatic, like the final movement of the Quartet Op. 135 with Beethoven’s famous handwritten note. Beethoven research has gen erated significant findings since the last major anniver sary in 1970. Many of the rediscovered works and frag ments ascribed to Beethoven cannot yet be heard. In preparing the complete edition, Deutsche Grammophon’s team attached great importance to close cooperation with researchers at the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn – in particular with Prof. Dr. Christine Siegert, head of the academic department – and, in this constellation, a book has been compiled containing Beethoven’s biography and introductions to his works by celebrated musicol ogists. Above all, however, the assessments by the Beethoven-Haus were crucial in deciding whether a minor work or fragment could be attributed with sufficient cer tainty to the composer, and which of several alternative versions should be recorded. One example is Beethoven’s so-called “Last Musical Thought”. Until now, this has not been legible or audible in the form (a string quintet) Beethoven employed to commit it to paper in November 1826. It was known only in the version in which the publisher Diabelli – undoubt edly for commercial reasons – had adapted it; that is, condensed to a piano version. Since the original manu script has been lost, a string quintet version aspiring to replicate Beethoven’s original had to be reconstructed
from the piano arrangement for the purpose of a record ing – taking into account the rules of counterpoint and Beethoven’s personal style in composing chamber music for strings. The newly elected president of the Beethoven- Haus, the violinist Daniel Hope, has recorded this ver sion with an illustrious chamber ensemble – Ikki Opitz, Amihai Grosz, Tatjana Masurenko, and Daniel MüllerSchott. Now, finally, the almost three-minute musical idea can be heard in rich, polyphonic string sound, just as it was originally intended. “It must be!” The statement needs an exclamation mark after it – matching Beethoven’s practice in the manuscript. A new Beethoven edition that is a reliable reference is also necessary because not everyone can or wants to be their own curator. The reception and recording history – from traditional performance practice to the original sound movement, each influenced by different aesthe tic traditions and national schools – is almost beyond the scope of even an educated lover of Beethoven. Representative of this are the cycles of symphonies recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic under Bernstein, Kleiber, and Nelsons, and with the Orchestre Révolution naire et Romantique under John Eliot Gardiner. Deutsche Grammophon has the privilege of being able to choose from some 60,000 minutes (or about forty days) of recor ded music by Beethoven – more than any other record label. This includes, not least, audio documents by mem bers of the Music Section of the Akademie der Künste: Wilhelm Kempff with the complete piano sonatas and, alongside Pierre Fournier, the cello sonatas. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau with the central works from Beethoven’s Lied output, and especially the cycle “An die ferne Geliebte” (“To the distant beloved”). Richard Strauss and Hans Pfitzner can be heard with recordings from the pre-war period – members who, in addition to their com positional work, also performed as conductors with the Staatskapelle Berlin or the Berlin Philharmonic. This rich recording tradition, which is almost an obli gation, goes back to the label’s founding phase: in 1913, Deutsche Grammophon recorded the Berlin Philharmonic
performing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony under Arthur Nikisch – which is considered to be the first recording of a complete symphony on sound carrier. At the time, it was released on four double-sided shellac records – a pioneering achievement in the history of sound record ing and one whose ambition and sound quality still com mands admiration. Fifty years later, another epoch-making Beethoven recording took place in Berlin: the first of three symphonic cycles that Herbert von Karajan released with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra on the Yellow Label, and to this day the best-selling Beethoven record ing. No one has described this symbiotic work between artists and label better than Karajan: “You know how much love and effort the Berlin Philharmonic and I have always invested in Beethoven’s work. The present work, however, has only become possible in collaboration with your recording staff, who are not only masters in their own field, but who also include people with profound artistic sensibilities.” But one question still remains: why is the study of Beethoven’s music so important and rewarding today? Each of us should seek our own personal answer to this question. For my part, I admire the way that (almost) every work by Beethoven emerged from a compelling inner necessity. The way that his music radiates ultimate sincerity. The way that his struggles and exertions for every note, despite his dire living conditions and poor health, brought forth music of apparent perfection, while going beyond anything previously heard. In this sense, Beethoven’s music has something that is at once pro foundly human and transcendent.
CLEMENS TRAUTMANN is the president of Deutsche Grammophon and a member of the Society of Friends of the Akademie der Künste.
pp. 4/5 photo Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk | pp. 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 21, 22 photos Michael Ruetz | pp. 27–31 photos I xmucané Aguilar | pp. 32/33 illustration Mecanoo, pp. 34/35 photo Harry Cock, p. 36 photo Ossip Architectuurfoto grafie, p. 37 photo (left) Greg Holmes, photo (right) Harry Cock, p. 38 illus tration Mecanoo | p. 42 photo Kerstin Marth, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, KS-Museale-Sammlung 303 | pp. 44–48 John Heartfield, p. 44 and p. 46 (top) The Wolfsonian, Florida International University, Miami Beach, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection XB1990.2047. 31.26, photos Lynton G ardiner, p. 45 Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Art Collection, no. JH425, p. 46 (bottom) Akademie der Künste, Berlin, JHA no. 6126.96.36.199, p. 47 (top) Russian State Library, Moscow, p. 47 (bottom) Akade mie der Künste, Berlin, JHA no. 621/37.5.29, p. 48 Akademie der Kün ste, Berlin, Art Collection, no. JH219 © The Heartfield Community of Heirs / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020 | p. 49 illustration from William Henry Stone, Elementary Lessons on Sound, Macmillan and Co.: London, 1879, p. 51 photo (top) Andrea Heilrath, photo (bottom) Sonia Lescene | p. 53 photo Bernd Borchardt © Thomas Rentmeister and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020, p. 54 © Gerhard Richter 2019 (13122019), p. 55 photo Nic Tenwiggenhorn, Düssel dorf / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020 © Ulrich Erben | p. 56 photo Manfred Mayer / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020 | p. 59 photo Christian Kraushaar, Akade mie der Künste, Berlin, Foto-AdK-O 4161 004 | p. 60 © John Erpenbeck, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Hedda Zinner Archive no. 196, p. 61 photo Max Ittenbach | p. 62 photo NDR, p. 63 photo Presse-Bild-Bethke | p. 64 illustration shown in the anniversary catalogue of 1996, p. 83, signature DAK 457, p. 65 Akademie der Künste Library, Berlin
Journal der Künste, Edition 12, English issue Berlin, March 2020 Print run: 1,500
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