Journal der Künste 18 (EN)

Page 1




P. 5

P. 27

P. 61




Johannes Odenthal

Naomie Gramlich

Anna Schultz

P. 8

P. 32

P. 66



Delphine Horvilleur in conversation with Jeanine Meerapfel

Esther Kinsky


P. 34 P. 12

“WE HAVE TO GET RID OF THIS IDEA THAT FASCISM IS MADNESS.” Kader Attia in conversation with Johannes Odenthal

“WE’VE AWAKENED THE TRULY GREAT HUNGER.” Carola Bauckholt, Julia Gerlach, and Iris ter Schiphorst in conversation Interventions by Christina Kubisch, Peter Ablinger, and Trond Reinholdtsen



P. 15






Christian Tschirner

ART AT HEART C. Sylvia Weber

P. 54





P. 25 P. 57




MILA TESHAIEVA, born in Kyiv in 1974, has been a

JOHANNA-MARIA FRITZ, born in Baden-Baden in 1994,

member of the OSTKREUZ – Agentur der Fotografen

has been a member of the OSTKREUZ – Agentur der

since 2016. Her solo exhibitions include InselWesen.

Fotografen since 2019. In 2018, her solo exhibition Like a

InselAlltag (Museum Europäischer Kulturen, Berlin, 2017)

Bird – based around the project of the same name about

and Imagined Communities (MIT Museum, Boston, 2018).

circus culture in Muslim countries – was on view at the

Among her publications are Promising Waters (2013),

Anne Clergue Galerie in Arles. In 2019, she received the

Faces and Stories of Entrepreneurs (2015), and

German Peace Prize for Photography. The photographs

InselWesen (2016). The photographs from Ukraine printed

from Ukraine printed here on pages 30–31, 42–43,

here on pages 3, 4, 6–7, 20–21, and 74 were taken

52–53, 64–65, 70–71, and 73 were taken on 5 March

between 1 and 18 March 2022.




Dear Reader, The Journal der Künste was founded in 2016, at a time when hun- that deprives us of the scope for change in the future. Taking the path dreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq of a literary exploration, Esther Kinsky approaches the topic of the were making their way to Central Europe. Uncertain States was the nuanced experience of nature in Italy’s post-industrial landscape. name the Akademie der Künste gave to its programme in response In the coming months, the Music Section will systematically to this global emergency situation. In the course of the Journal’s address the question of how the necessary change must transform eighteen issues, the major crises have not been solved. Instead, not only the practice of composers, but also the structures of instinew exceptional situations and emergencies have emerged, such tutions. The conversation between Carola Bauckholt, Iris ter as Brexit, the rise of authoritarian structures in Europe, the Schiphorst, and Julia Gerlach calls for a structural rethink and new strengthening of racist and nationalist groups, the attacks in Halle forms of action that our institution must address. In the utopian and Hanau, the increasing signs of climate disaster, and above all practice of Trond Reinholdtsen and the landscape interventions the COVID-19 pandemic since the beginning of 2020 and finally, in of Christina Kubisch and Peter Ablinger, we present specific the last few weeks, the war of aggression against Ukraine. Where examples of this new artistic practice. do the arts stand? And where do we stand as an institution that The articles in the section “News from the Archive” focus on the champions the arts? experience of exile and resistance during the National Socialist era. The issues of asylum, the right-wing populist division of society, These focus on the composer Friedrich Hollaender, the journalist the future of Europe, the systemic importance of art and our own and Resistance activist Gerhard Leo, and the illustrator and powerlessness affect us as an institution to the core and are caricaturist Milein Cosman, who survived in exile and attest to the repeatedly reflected upon in the Journal’s articles. Also, in this historical dimension of current themes. Academy President Jeanine issue, there is an overlapping of the topics that have been with us Meerapfel’s diary of the trip to Portbou with secondary school for years: the continuity of antisemitism in Western societies and leavers from Berlin in the footsteps of Walter Benjamin tells of the the persistence of colonial and fascist lines of thinking through to concrete practice of an in-depth educational project for a young the present day. Two conversations, one with Rabbi Delphine generation of critical thinkers. Horvilleur and one with the curator of the Berlin Biennale, Kader Attia, We have awarded our carte blanche twice in this issue: to the reflect on these contexts. Like an interference in our everyday work, industrial designer Fritz Frenkler, who consistently describes the two photographic war diaries by Johanna-Maria Fritz and Mila sustainability as a matter of design, and to the poet Katharina Teshaieva permeate this issue. With their pictures, the OSTKREUZ Schultens, who as of 2022 is the new director of the Haus für photographers report to us on the exceptional emotional and phys- Poesie. In her poems, she provides a linguistic record of contempoical situations in Eastern Europe. And at the same time, the one rary upheavals. major and central issue for the future casts its shadow over all Finally, a word on my own behalf. As the initiator and editor the battlefields of the present: the question of how a future on responsible for the Journal der Künste, I am saying goodbye with this planet can look for the generations to come. This issue will this 18th issue. I would like to thank my co-editors Kathrin Röggla also occupy the Academy in the coming years. A review of the sym- and Werner Heegewaldt along with the editorial team of Lina Brion, posium ReEDOcate Me! at the beginning of the year showed the Anneka Metzger, and Martin Hager for their excellent work, which necessity for change in how we manage natural resources, taking will also serve as the basis for the Journal’s ongoing evolution. the historical example of the Edo period in Japan. Ulrike Herrmann and Naomie Gramlich in particular outline the link between capiJohannes Odenthal talism and colonial structures as a historically evolved foundation Programme Director of the Akademie der Künste




JEANINE MEERAPFEL We are very concerned about the growing problem of antisemitism in Germany at the moment. Three days ago, we had the anniversary of the attack against the synagogue in Halle on Yom Kippur, with two people killed. All the time now, we are seeing these attacks and the desecration of cemeteries. Attacks against synagogues are happening in this country, and so we ask ourselves, how is it possible? How can it be?


DELPHINE HORVILLEUR Before I talk about my own encounter with antisemitism in other spaces and on other dates, I want to relate my own encounter with the reawakening – rather, should I say, how the presence of antisemitism in the society I was living in took place for me in 1980. I was 15 at the time, it happened in Carpentras in the South of France, a well-known city in the Provence area. A cemetery was desecrated. It was the first time in my life something like this happened, and I remember being in the car with my father and him looking at me and saying, “That’s the most serious and terrifying thing we’ve experienced since the end of the war.” For him it was an absolute shock and for me too, because I remember saying to myself, that actually I’d thought my generation would be totally preserved. If I can use a word we use a lot today, I thought my generation would be immunised from this, because the Shoah was closed and people understood that, and I really believed it wouldn’t be our war. But on that day, I realised it would also be our battle, and my generation would have to fight. JM The desecration of the cemetery that you describe living through in the moment with your father – something happened to you then which made you say, I need to do something about it… You went to Israel, started learning Hebrew. How come you did that? DH I think that move to Israel when I was 17 was because I was already deeply immersed in reflection on what it means to be Jewish. What is my Jewish identity about? You know, this is what I have kept thinking about for the past forty years, I have to say, because, as you probably know, no one is able to define what it actually means to be Jewish. So, for me, Israel when I was 17, was an attempt to find a kind of resolution to this question, which was hopeless, actually.

JM You wrote about how – until Google was sued in France in 2012 – all you had to do was put the name of a well-known personality into the search engine for it to automatically give you the keyword Jew: Francois Holland, Jew. George Clooney, Jew. What about Santa Claus?

Antisemitism takes many forms: from overt violence to more subtle mechanisms that underlie the formation of prejudice. The danger of right-wing attacks is concrete, the antisemitic attack on the Jewish community in Halle on 9 October 2019 is just one shocking example. At the Academy Dialogue on 12 October 2021, Jeanine Meerapfel, President of the Akademie der Künste and a filmmaker, spoke with French Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur, who for her essay on the question of antisemitism looks for explanations of how antisemitism came about in early rabbinic writings and takes a fresh look at the present.

Here are some excerpts from the videoed conversation that can be viewed online at news/?we_objectID=63086


DH Indeed, in France in 2012 there was a trial that forbade Google from making those associations, but they were not being made by Google or any other research motor. The associations were made by the computers themselves because they picked up that many, many people, and I have to say, especially in France, were checking who is Jewish… It’s quite interesting because actually it goes against the classic antisemitic discourse that says, I can see the Jews, I recognise them. They have a specific look, a specific way of talking and walking, so those same people who say that they can recognise Jews from very far away are precisely the ones who are checking on Google. Maybe this one is a Jew, and I don’t know about it. So, there is this obsession with the Other being both another and the same. This is very specific to antisemitism, because classical racism is about the recognition that the Other is another: he doesn’t have my accent, he doesn’t have the same colour skin, doesn’t speak the same language, doesn’t have the same habits, et cetera. So, it’s the Other minored and recognised as the Other: I’m above him and he’s different. That’s classical racism. But antisemitism is more complex than that, subtler, in a way. I’m not saying that it’s better or worse, understand me well, I’m not making any type of classifications between hates. They need to be fought together. But I think antisemitism is different, because an antisemite looks at the Jew as being both too much the Other and too much the same. Jews have been accused of being different, they don’t eat the same thing, they marry between themselves, they have a specific language… but they’ve been attacked even more strongly when they speak like me, walk like me, look like me, seem to be assimilated. So, it’s interesting that they are hated for being both the same and the Other, different, and just like me. It’s a particular hate. And another particularity

Academy President and filmmaker Jeanine Meerapfel (left) and Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur at the Academy Dialogue on 12 October 2021.



of this hate, which you have probably noticed, is that, in opposition to classical racism, which tends to stand above the hated object, antisemitism is very often connected to a certain type of envy, of jealousy. Of looking at the Jew and considering that he owns something that should be mine. JM You say also that Jews are mostly hated for what they have, not for what they don’t, and on the other hand, to start with, there is this longevity, this persistence. Jews cannot be kept down it seems to me. And that is a source of frustration. You cannot get rid of them. Stubbornly, they thwart their own demise, this persistence is an intolerable affront here, right? “Why can’t Jews die out like everyone else?” you ask in your book. “They just won’t disappear.” DH Well, individually, Jews disappear pretty easily, but collectively, that’s another issue. I’m sorry for this black humour, but indeed, I think part of a classical foundation of antisemitic hate is the fact that the Jewish civilisation seems to endure when other civilisations have disappeared – had their time and their power, but disappeared in a way. And there seems to be a longevity of the Jews, that is very, very difficult to explain. Jews themselves don’t know how to explain it, but I think Jewish longevity has something to do with what I was talking about before, with the fact that no one was able to define what it means to be a Jew. And because there is no definition, there is no “finition”. It cannot end, because as I say in the book, only the next Jew will tell you what it means to be a Jew. There are so many Jewish jokes about it, about the fact that no one knows how to define Jewishness – And, by the way, I think Jewish humour is also a very powerful key to explain Jewish longevity. Jewish humour, in a way, preserved Jews over a long period of history and helped them to reinterpret history and texts and themselves, in a way that kept them alive. So, I think that the fact Jewishness escaped definition, and therefore frontiers of being, is linked to antisemitic hate. Because, very often, when you pay attention, antisemitic discourse is all about frontiers. It’s all about definition, who belongs and who doesn’t belong. Who is from here, who is not from here? What are the limits of the body of the nation and who created porosity and, potentially, contamination in the structure? We very often find in anti-vaccination protests antisemitic rhetoric that infiltrates those demonstrations, because antisemitism is always flirting with narratives of contamination and purity. And if you’re obsessed with the frontier of your body and your group and your nation, you can be pretty sure that very soon the noun, Jew, will be called out as what prevents you from being truly yourself, authentically yourself, purely yourself. So, it’s no big surprise. JM “The Hebrew, Ivri” you write, “means ‘the one who crosses’. Because he left the land of his birth and origin, Abraham acquired a label that names his actions, which is the word for crossing over.” Please, tell us a little bit more about that. DH Abram comes from a city called Ur in Chaldea. He comes from an idolatrous house, probably, and one day he hears this call coming from God that says, “Lech-Lecha: Leave the home, the house of your father, the place where you were born, your origin, and go to the land that I will show you.” And Abram starts his journey towards the promised land, called Canaan in the Bible. And from the moment he leaves his parents’ house, he becomes “Ivri”. He becomes someone called ivri, which means literally, the one who crosses the river, the one who was there and is on his way to another place. What is interesting is that named people in the Bible are generally called by the place of their origin. This one comes from Canaan, this one’s from… just as the way we would say, this person is French, this one is German. We are often defined by the place where we were born, or the language we speak, or the place where we grew up, the house of our parents. But the Hebrew identity says the opposite. It says that our Father, because he is believed to be the father of all monotheistic faiths, Abram, is named not after the place he is born, but by the fact that he left this place… Think about it for a second philosophically. Fatherhood in the Bible, is created by someone who was able to make a cut from his origin, move to another place and leave behind his identity, which for the Jews is believed to be the original, authentic identity, the Hebrew identity, the protoJewish identity, so the Hebrew identity is an ability to define yourself not through


the place that gave birth to you but by the very fact that you were able to leave the place of your birth to go to a promised land. And I keep thinking about this story, because I think it’s a super political story, when we are surrounded, particularly today, by people in Europe, politicians who keep claiming, telling us, that what defines you is where you are born, what the place of your birth, your origin is – when actually, you know, the absolute spiritual model of our text is the ability to define yourself by your journey and not by your birth. JM There are also parts in your book where you talk about building on what is broken. Again, I found this very important, I quote: “what have the theology of the void and the spirituality of absence got to do with obsessive antisemitism? Jewish self-construction on the fragmentary, has created a system that is almost shatterproof. And that is the main reproach that antisemites have never stopped harping on [about] over the centuries, the sheer lasting power of Jews. Building on the broken is probably one of the keys to the persistence of Judaism.” And then you give an example: “no Jewish wedding is conceivable without this breaking point resounding and the shattering of a glass. The point is not simply to evoke a painful past, the destruction of the Temple 2,000 years ago, but rather to remind the new couple, every future construction, that Jewish life can only unfold in the awareness of its actual foundation, namely its vulnerability.” DH Yes. And it goes on and on in Jewish narratives and Jewish rites. When Moses comes down from Mount Sinai, what is the first thing he does? He breaks the tablets. And when the temple is rebuilt, it’s again destroyed, and we keep repeating this story of breaking. Also, this is linked to the acknowledgement of incompleteness, the idea that you cannot live in a world that is whole, in a world of one. That you are from the beginning incomplete. You are in a state of brokenness. Of lacking. Of acknowledging breaches in your life, that’s the condition of encounter with yourself and with the Other – and, indeed, I believe that this is a very powerful thing in Jewish history and that it has been a condition of Jewish resilience and durability. All those imperialistic ideas of being one, the Roman Empire, Nazi Germany – all those civilisations are built on discourses of oneness, and I think oneness is a prelude to totalitarianism and political violence, always. JM But that again, somehow, makes the antisemitic feeling resurface, because a people that live with their brokenness, with the not being whole, always determined to go on because of the brokenness, represent something like a challenge. DH Yes. And here I think you touched upon the absolute secret and mystery, which is that we tend to believe that antisemites hate Jews, because they the Jews have something that they the antisemites don’t have themselves. But the secret is that the opposite is true, it is that antisemites very often hate Jews because we don’t have that something either, but seem to be able to live without it. And that’s the big issue, you know. How is it that the Other seems to build and stay alive on this idea of brokenness, when you are convinced that your idea of security and future depends on wholeness, integrity. My belief is that antisemitism very often is an obsession with integrity. JM It’s interesting, because there’s also a complete world in which we are taught to say wholeness is what we want. And what you are saying, is exactly the contrary. DH Yes. It’s an ability to live without, I think this is the definition of maturity. I just wrote a book about mourning processes. We talk so much in our society about resilience and reparation. But let’s be honest, there’s no such thing. Nothing can be repaired. When it’s broken, it’s broken, and resilience is not a complete reparation. Never. True resilience is actually the ability to live with the broken. It’s about being able to move on in your life with something that is not anymore. It’s a ghost, but you will not get rid of the ghosts. And the only thing you can do is to figure out what kind of room and what kind of conversation you can have with them. And for me, truly it’s moving to tell you this tonight in Berlin because I cannot think of a city more haunted than yours. It’s a city of ghosts.

Door of the synagogue in Halle’s Paulusviertel district after the attempted antisemitic attack.

DELPHINE HORVILLEUR, born in Nancy in 1974, is a rabbi and one of the leading figures of the French Liberal Jewish Movement (MJLF). She is editor of the magazine Tenou'a – Atelier de pensée(s) juive(s) and author of several books on the subject of femininity and Judaism. The English version of Anti-Semitism Revisited, from which in this article is quoted, was published by Quercus Publishing in 2021.


Detail of the bullet-ridden door to the synagogue after it was removed.


Deneth Piumakshi Veda Arachchige, Self-Portrait as Restitution – from a Feminist Point of View, 2020, 3D SLA print of the artist’s body.

This year’s Berlin Biennale, curated by Kader Attia, is based on his concept of “repair”. As the mission statement claims: “Colonialism continues to impact the present, long after the achievement of political independence by people in the Global South. Colonial violence, fascism, and capitalist exploitation continue, persisting in ever-new forms. Kader Attia looks back on more than two decades of decolonial engagement. Throughout his practice, repair has emerged as a mode of cultural resistance, a form of agency that finds expression in diverse practices and fields of knowledge.” In conversation with Johannes Odenthal, he delineates the basic tenets of the thinking that feeds into his concept of the entanglement between colonialism, fascism, and capitalism. The talk took place just days before Russian troops invaded Ukraine. Kader Attia’s reflections on colonialism – and its long life after formal decolonisation – take on added urgency in the face of an undisguised imperialism that, until recently, had seemed unthinkable in this blunt form.


Johannes Odenthal In your concept for the 12th edition of the Berlin Biennale, you include reflections on the relationship between fascism and colonialism. A decisive question in this context is how to deconstruct Western universalism – forming, as it does, the basis for the decolonial perspective – and how to do this on all levels. Kader Attia In a sense, universalism is a knowledge projected from the European mindset and the Age of Enlightenment. From Descartes to Immanuel Kant, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and others, there’s a century-long cannon that constitutes “modern thinking”, and we forget how this has also been formed by the structures of political power, which only really care about the projection of their rhetoric and concepts. We don’t think about the locus from where these concepts have been formed. When we speak about decolonial thinking today, there is a misunderstanding – in France, Germany, in Belgium, Portugal, everywhere in Europe – that the debate about colonialism is over. People might say, “Everyone knows colonialism is done”, but that’s wrong. The majority in society take it for granted that the country which we colonised yesterday is free today because they have their independence. But this notion of coloniality is just shifted somewhere else within the universal projection. Since Morocco won its independence in 1979, according to the memoir of philosopher Abdelkébir Khatibi, the problem has been the decolonisation of ourselves; that is, the self has to decolonise itself. The universal self has a locus in Europe, but this locus of enunciation is obscured. That’s why the decolonial conversation regards mainly European countries, because European societies have not understood until now that they have been built on coloniality, on colonial extractions. It’s not easy to decolonise yourself, for both parties. I recently explained in a lecture in Karlsruhe how much the colonial occupation is actually the construction of a dream imposed on the Other. I was using the example of Algiers, where I spend a significant portion of my time. There is a long, beautiful street in Algiers called the Didouche Mourad. It’s a very nice walk to go into the town centre from the top of the street. You have all this beautiful French architecture, from neoclassical to art déco to modern, et cetera. But you cannot stop thinking that you are walking through someone else’s dream. The colonisers had a dream they imposed on the Other. Just like Joseph Tonda, another sociologist writer I like very much, has put it in the title of his most recent book: Afrodystopie. La vie dans le rêve d’Autrui – “life in someone else’s dream”. As you put it, universalism is really the question today. Without making the mistake of judging, I also like some universalist ideas. But I cannot stop asking of any form of universalism: who is enunciating it and from where? In this Aufklärungs [Enlightenment] moment, Europe was the one producing the categories of the world. From the categories of nature – by people like Humboldt and Buffon; Foucault wrote a lot about this – to the categories of gender, race, religion. At the same time, they were creating categories of the Other: the Black, the Arab, the Asian, the Woman, the Gay. The white male was never mentioned as a category, and this erasure, this invisibility, is also colonial in my view. It’s a process that aims at mapping the Other in order to measure them, to categorise them, and therefore to control them. And this production and mapping of identities, that’s the opposite of this fantasy that universalism is pretending to offer, if you


think about it. Things are changing slowly, but contemporary artists are a niche in our society. We artists are not representing the society; we are a laboratory. JO What we call the Enlightenment was deeply connected to ideas of nature, power structures, and economies, and universalism implies that the separate realities in which we are living are completely interwoven. On the one hand, this could seem utopian and perhaps very helpful in connecting our thoughts; that is, we may be able to transform this impasse and come to a concept that helps us to survive on this planet – a planetarian concept. But on the other hand, the more aggressive thinking of writers such as Frantz Fanon and Aimé Césaire attacks Western hegemony in the form of an accusation: fascism as a structure is just a change of direction from colonialist universalism, now it’s not only being imposed on the Other but on oneself, destructing one’s own identity, destructing the European Self. As a German, it’s my biographic history to deal with this again and again and again. There is no escape from that. This is much more aggressive, but it’s very helpful to be clear that the question isn’t about whether a concept is smart or whether it is about a nice, better world. It’s about really questioning the basis of our existential situation in Europe.

Cover Femmes du Vietnam, no. 1, 1974.

KA There are many connections between colonialism and fascism. I even think that, at some point, fascism gets a colonial agency. It’s a transformation of the world according to one vision. So, we’re back again at the dream. Because these Goebbels, Francos, Mussolinis, these fascists, they had a dream. A catastrophic dream – for us it’s a nightmare, but for them it was a dream. And they have imposed their dream on others. They wanted to impose fascism on the rest of the world. And besides, there are many differences between European fascisms: between Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Belgian, French fascisms. But in the 1950s, while the Allies are celebrating the end of fascism, the end of Nazi Germany, Aimé Césaire said that they were ignoring the domestic fascism – called colonialism. Of course, colonialism is moved by racism, by antisemitism, by extractions of wealth from others, by the transformation of society and the creation of social differences. Of course, it’s also moved by warfare, by violence. Fanon

explained it in many ways, but what I found interesting in Césaire’s statement, which is still relevant today, is that he tried to move the responsibility from one locus to another one. He moves the responsibility for fascism to the side of the Allies. I’m very interested also in psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and a psychological approach to politics. What is interesting here is that there was, and still is, a whole discourse around the Nazi regime being the insane project of mad people. I always thought it was a mistake to qualify Nazism as madness – it’s very dangerous, because it makes the Nazi project a sort of irrational one. Firstly, it removes their responsibility and, secondly, it removes the political project of this ideology. I think the real problem that we have to understand is that a political project always has the potential to be a fascist one. Any political project that is the dream of a group of people who want to impose it on others risks falling into fascism. Particularly when we are facing a time of economic crisis, like today. And we’re also facing a social crisis, because of the pandemic, because of social media, because of the fact that people are not able to gather anymore, to have a beer together. Instead, they have Zoom meetings. Both the pandemic and the governance of and by the digital is enhancing the anxiety of society, and it is therefore increasing the susceptibility of the subject to manipulation by political extremists. When Césaire states that the Allies did not take care of their own domestic fascism, he is criticising colonialism as a political project, as a political project with its own agency. Colonialism is an anti-democratic project by itself, and that’s why I think it’s fascist. The attitude is: we come, we take the land, we take the people, we transform your imagination. As Achille Mbembe said, the Berlin Conference consisted of a group of people who said, “Go to Africa and take territories and explain to the people there: ‘this is good for you, we’re going to bring you progress.’” We have to get rid of this idea that fascism is madness. It’s an agenda, a political one. JO I don’t know if you have Zygmunt Bauman in mind. He made it very clear that it was not a mistake: fascism developed systematically out of the modernisation of society. But another question is: when you think about divided Berlin, the East also developed a dream. What we are discovering today is that this included a specific thinking of resistance, of being different. Not everything was available, and you had to arrange yourself within this “shortage economy”. The way it seems to me now is that there were a lot of productive moments then that could inspire forms of resistance today, things that could help us to survive and to think society into different forms. When we talked about this before, you said that the way East and West Germany were unified was a form of colonisation, meaning that these colonial structures also occur in the middle of Europe. So, in Berlin, you are connected not only to fascism, but to Western domination over the East of the city too. KA People had been living in a certain environment for forty years, a natural environment, political environment, social environment, an economic environment. And in no more than three years, it basically all disappeared. I did not grow up in this situation, but I have been reading about and meeting people from the GDR, and the most common narrative is that what they were expecting was to


get rid of the SED party, and they did not understand the revolution as getting rid of communism. And those who wanted to get rid of communism did not want this wild capitalism taking over and erasing everything. As far as I know, about 7,000 factories in East Germany were closed down in six years. Most of the time, we take for granted that capitalism is good for society, because it helps society to work. But we neglect the violence of capitalism as an uncontrollable system. I’ve always been fascinated by the economist Keynes, because he used to say that capitalism and the economy need to be controlled by the state. But what happened during unification was that the symbol of the fall of the Berlin Wall was so strong that West German capitalists, those in the insurance companies for example, had a red carpet rolled out for them to do whatever they wanted. And there are many scandals also in Berlin about real estate speculation. What I find interesting here is to connect this to what is happening today with digital governance. To use a term from the philosopher Bernard Stiegler, the “general organology” of capitalism sometimes has a toxic derivative. What happened during unification and what is happening today with computational governance is very similar, in my view, because you have an incredible hegemony of a system that basically does not give the one who cannot follow it a chance to exist. Jean Lassègue, a French philosopher who works on digital justice, says we are living in a world where the real actors are the coders and the engineers of coding. I’m speaking about 10,000 people in the world. The majority of people have no idea how it works. And because of this inability to understand and to control this form of governance, the majority of people are victims of the system and not actors in it. For me, this inability that the computational governance produces is, actually, very close to an example I got from a psychiatrist here in Berlin. He said that, after unification, he saw engineers, architects, people who were highly educated in the East, going back to their village or city four or five years after leaving; they tried to make it in the West, but it did not work. They did not have the skills to be competitive. This absence of skills to be competitive within the capitalist environment is quite close to the absence of skills we are facing today with people who have no clue about how digital governance – the black box, deep algorithmic governance – works. Extractions of data are constantly exploiting our behaviours and transforming us, and we have no idea about it. Many people say, “I don’t want to compare colonialism and what happened during unification, it’s not the same.” Of course, it’s not the same, but there are common denominators: capitalism, violence. And you can also compare it to the workings of computational governance today, because we take for granted that technology is “saving the world”. At the time of German unification, people used to think that capitalism is better than communism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a communist, but I just want to be clear that the problem is that capitalism is out of control, and this is exactly what is happening today with crypto currencies and decentralised economies. What Keynes has explained is that an economy has to be at least controlled by the state or, I would say, by laws. And that’s why I speak about colonialism here: when the colonisers arrived in America, in Africa, in Algeria, for example, there were no laws to be obeyed. There were systems of laws that were used in Europe for the British, for the Germans, for the French, and so on, but when they were in Africa,


there was nothing they accepted as binding. It was like an open bar for them. We have to understand colonialism in that way, as a system that arrives in a context where it takes the liberty to behave the way it wants, basically extracting wealth from there, human and mineral wealth, because there’s no control. JO In your own artistic work, you often use archives, cultural memory, as a form of resistance and a corrective. In the archival turn today, the archive has become a place of possible resistance and of correction. This is a very strong metaphor which we can use in the arts.

then conceptually. I wanted to show the complexity in how one can understand the term, from the modern Western view to a non-Western and pre-modern one. Today I think that repair in many ways is the force that drives us, also in this 12th Berlin Biennale. I understand the project as a social one, something I do to help improve the society I am living in. With the exhibitions, the public programme, and the media programme, I want to propose a form of reparation of the wounds that alienate us in a dystopian society. A dialogue could be the beginning of that.

KA In the context of the Biennale topic of “repair”, it’s very interesting to see the archive as a legacy of everything that has been done regarding anti-colonialism as a protest movement. In a sense, I think the younger generation today are orphans of the legacy of the struggle so far. For instance, there have been various feminist movements in the global South before. In the face of this fact, feminists like Paola Bacchetta or Françoise Vergès complain that younger generations think decolonial feminism is something new. But it’s not; there were Algerian, Palestinian, South African, Ugandan feminists, Mongolian women fighting in wars, fighting for independence, for freedom, for women’s freedom. In the collection of Egidio Marzona, I discovered some very interesting newsletters from a Vietnamese feminist movement during the US–Vietnam war. We’re going to show them in the Biennale, because I think it’s important that an exhibition is not only the vitrine of an artist’s statement. We have to be able to retrace artworks that are expressions of oneself or a collective, of a thought in space and time. This could be emotional, it could be poetical, it could be political. But then there is another aspect of the archive, which is closer to data in the sense of mediation, and which turns the Biennale exhibition into even more of a laboratory of ideas. I want to remember that there were already discourses of colonialism and colonial heritage, regard­ ing restitution for instance, in the past – it’s not new – and it’s interesting to learn about the genealogy of these discussions. But there are some issues that have not yet been very much developed, some topics that you can find in archives but not in artworks. There are archives about completely unknown topics, like the occupation of West Papua, the occupation of the Western Sahara by Morocco. Of course, we know about Palestine, it’s everywhere, but I think this is not the case as concerns Morocco and West Papua, which are basically two Muslim countries occupying others. For me, it’s important to establish that coloniality is not a question of either race or religion. It’s a capitalistic derivative. Coloniality is the overtaking of a land and its wealth. And if I would dare to say so, the fascist ideology is basically moved by capitalist intentions too, simply to create profit. JO You are not talking about reparation payments first of all, or about the reconstruction of something which has been. Could you comment on your understanding of “repair”? KA I have been involved with the concept of “repair” for many years, which has made me realise that repairs are everywhere. Repair is an agency. Working with the concept of repair for the first time as an artist at dOCUMENTA (13), it was important for me to take it very literally and

KADER ATTIA grew up in France and Algeria and studied philosophy and art in Paris and Barcelona; today, he lives and works in Berlin and Paris. Using an intercultural and interdisciplinary research approach, he examines societies from the perspectives of their own histories.


KATHARINA SCHULTENS HUNTING LIBRARIANS venerated Librarians Stabilising The Multiverse I have a question for you: how do I surrender resign and abstain from evil a.k.a. everything? my teeny baby smells like peanut butter my teenage baby turned into a tiger, brought his cage, and set it up himself. on her first visit, the fairy queen annihilated three eggs that would have been babies. on the second she kept all of her eggs in one basket. on the third she missed out, big time. none of my babies, dead or alive, are at fault when it comes to Why Am I So Tired. Why Am I So Tired grows as a vine from All This Shit. my babies keep me grounded. they keep me in the ground. my babies are not at fault, nor is the ground. my thoughts are trees, stunted, overgrown with vines I cannot let them grow ’cause I Am Out Of Time. wherever you put down roots it’s the ground that shapes your mind and your heart will Pay For It. so I’ll just stay in a forest, ok? there’s nobody else and I’ll never be a bird again. yes I will. woodpeckish for branches, my babies’ limbs. The Multiverse will produce a haiku featuring my babies, their pale bare limbs plus my beak so Harsh and Fierce. I will keep this inside. I will stay under fir trees a girl called Eufinger will hold my hand forever and tell me Leviathan Will Come For Us. I’ll never leave those shadows under the fir trees everyone here is polishing their invisible golden cufflinks squads are fastening their gear, hitching their pitons into the House, its white marble walls – sporting stars and stripes and beards and bones and guns, smashing the capitol. my babies don’t like yells, especially those that are male in origin. I’ll try to surrender I will abstain from… what? becoming resigned? (2021, English version 2022)

A MORSE CODE CONVERSATION ON CARDBOARD we’re done now, right? are you safe? how long will this be tenable? I’m about to order a spell, anathema to comments, connectivity. oh, actually we had the most wonderful time – it was spring and everything just went down: numbers, hits, every spiel all that insufferable drivel: done; finally: some peace of mind. for us, that is, i.e. the usual crowd erecting first-world cardboard co-working spaces out of delivery boxes. darling! of course we had a bar! it was just somewhat awkwardly positioned, smack in the middle of some random commodity producer’s dirt plot that doubled as EVERYONE ELSE OUT THERE, a.k.a. the frontline/workers/guy:gal:s that fielded our questions/cleaned our stuff. …I guess they sort of smelled? well, no more than expected. we probably learned some, um, private equity stockpiling? …yeah. don’t look at those Blue Chips, honey, they only get you hangry. how did we measure empathy? I think by the type of fabric those people used. right: biodegradability. so essential.

(2021, English version 2022)

knock MOCK CHR CHR CHR CHR I won’t kill, I’ll just mock, mockingbird, and you as well, moron I’ll ticket all of your off-grid-shit plus your four-wings-drive, excuse me: your ironic pickup truck, Mr. Dirty Birdy Artist, go practice some more use your elementary school missus for a stand-in, she’s plastering instagram with pics of DADDY at the purity ball back then, in my mean time I’ll mock your sixteen imaginary kids + their alliterative surnames – I’m sorry, I’m all out of empathy, this is an emergency and self-defensive measures are in order. put your twitter handle where the sun don’t shine, at least then you’ll have a backbone, take your home-brewed split-screen experts, their fake mahogany background bookshelves stuff ’em all under one of those PEACE cloth masks until you choke I JUST CAN’T: destruction looms and we, collectively, are Dumb Buffy Slaying Party Outfits instead of masters of the universe, please excuse my French: gf your petty selves. I’m one of you, I’ll mock until we burn I’ll kiss my babies’ flabby white cutesy cankles, see? that’s their 401k right there, right now we can still afford this… I’ll mock until your missus looks like me, I’ll mock and slash and slay IT’S JUST UNTIL THESE TEARS HAVE DRIED, I’ll use your fears for frying home-raised chickens, it’s sickening what you can do when everyone and everything is worth the same to you, i.e.: nothing, Dear colleagues, I implore you, send a Mission I promise not to kill them all, send them to save this missus hiding my heart. is she, pray tell, hiding within? wisdom is just a lie she says, a knife in your sleeve, if you don’t want to learn any more if you’re too tired to care. so play it close, but look ahead it’s gonna be epic when we lose it all post some deep shit on a pastel background, buy a meantime mahogany shelf, maybe some books to go with it – damn, girl, you’re a goner. just STFU, start unsnarling your face and that thread. Buffy, off-stage: “Nobody cares.” Buffy walks into a bar, promptly turns into a moron. knock mock, who’s there? some of those other babies, the ones that burned while moonlighting as your punchline.

(2020, English version 2022)


this out we had: gone now. bushfires, people shooed back and forth, bearing offspring, carrying shawls.

spring your trap, heart, bid me off, tell the truth. I don’t have a care left in the world except, maybe, for my child. I wish to invoke: oil fields, commanders-in-chief, their crazy eyes. fathom this: every pipeline ends in a crackpot of oily visions, willing to burn the world. I do not wish to invoke, heart, the world anymore. call me out. tell the truth and name it. say: gutless desire, ennui. wrap me in a shawl and bear with me as if I were an animal caught in a bushfire. please. we will have to take everything, everything we have it is quite a lot in comparison, it is not enough if you calculate what’s already lost.

(2015, published 2017, English version 2022)

WELL I THOUGHT WE KILLED THAT BUT IT’S EVERYWHERE don’t you think it’s remarkable, after all those years of outrageous uniforms star-spangled, rebellious combinations of green and gold, red, white, and blue after all those years of cap and gown, of beards, berets, of ties, of foreign robes, now: all’s in the hair or lack thereof, it yearns: for razor-like partings, for puffs and pomade coiffage in orange, freckles on a dome so let’s say: he’s getting ready for something for multiplication maybe, he starts jumping, swaying back and forth, on the stage of his convention centre, and deftly, skilfully, as if he were just breezing through the motions, he stabs multiple journalists behind the curtain he’s fast, he pulls the bloody knife right out of his own back and starts protesting so why does it sound hysterical if I say: this is happening right here, right now, among us, this is an old song and we all know the tune

(2016, published 2017, English version 2019)

IS THERE A WAY TO LEAVE THE MOON? president Pu stood in the stirrups, running circles around us, throwing kisses, fucking killing it. some of my hands started clapping I had nine pairs of those but only those far right and left participated. well, I was on a work trip, I had no idea if or when or how I would return, if mayhap someone else would return in my stead, real cool and collected, I was externally funded and put it all on the tab: 1. smalltown, workday, some cook in a cold kitchen fixing us late dinner; 2. downtown SF, 22nd floor, we wore our most distinguished sneakers in a mockery of casual Friday; 3. nobody spoke they all pretended things will continue to glitter on as is plus, the big one never happens. and the valley ranches are 4. definitely not just piles of bones while we are busy braving the new world, no. those 4.5 almond producers? not draining the aquifers for three metropolitan areas. those mansion gardens? of course to be watered every day, extensively. we continued speaking about 5. payment providers and optimisation, about disruptive technologies, key elements to custom solutions and our ancestral line of amazing engineers and dead-by-cancer entrepreneurs wafted through the lobby on wave upon wave of some amazing Za – lurking in apps like the proverbial ghouls awaiting fireworks, we waited until 6. Pu, still president, rode down a staircase of imperial files we’d leaked well, we had been on the 22nd but missed out on the Penthouse. so? we forecasted some futures of commodities, erroneously invaded 7. another of those godforsaken Cold War countries, thus spoke Pu: you all have to imagine Moscow like a song and it plays on the moon, you all just have to understand: nobody will understand and vice-versa. so, this is your position if you enter 8. Market: your words will drop + curtsy, throw their little legs into kasachoks cliché resistance is futile, this rhythm, this goddamn diplomacy will rule. don’t bother with politics. cancel your foredoomed love affair. you try to disengage? you are pretending. with mutual respect we consciously uncoupled, haha. is there a way to leave the moon? a way to circumvent facing the music? hahahaha. see you soon stops my heart so there’s always a soon but there’s never a then and it never ever says when

(2015, published 2017, English version 2022)

KATHARINA SCHULTENS a poet, has been a member of the Akademie der Künste, Literature Section, since 2021. From September 2022 she will be the new director of the Haus für Poesie.



In the 9th century, extensive forest clearing in Central America causes drops in precipitation and a catastrophic drought, leading to the collapse of the highly developed Mayan culture. On Easter Island in the 13th century, major deforestation brings about soil erosion, and food shortages ultimately cause the collapse of the entire island’s native culture.1 Although there are numerous cases throughout history of civilisations collapsing due to environmental destruction, examples of successful transformation are much harder to find. One such example is the Japanese Edo period. For 250 years, Japan successfully managed its economy without any external supply of energy and resources. Based on the historical model of the Edo period, the interdisciplinary symposium ReEDOcate ME!, which took place in January 2022 at the Akademie der Künste and the GoetheInstitut Tokyo, examined the scope for conceptualising and shaping ecological transformation.

Christian Tschirner

Act in a way, writes Hans Jonas in his 1979 book The Imperative of Responsibility, that the implications of your actions are compatible with the permanence of real human life on Earth. Over forty years later, five years after the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement, it is now evident that, in terms of a response to the environmental crisis, the adopted measures are neither sufficient nor are they even being implemented. Despite the realisation that our civilisation is at stake, there is an enormous gap between knowledge and action. And although the arts, with their broad societal influence, could have an important role to play in this process, the necessary transformation processes are slow to get off the ground. The title of the symposium plays on the term re-education, the programme initiated by the United States government after the Second World War, which sought to use education, art, literature, and entertainment to attain an intellectual denazification of Germany (and Japan). Cultural programmes such as podium discussions, film screenings, radio dramas, and travelling exhibitions were employed to displace authoritarian, racist attitudes and draw on humanistic traditions in order to stimulate a positive relationship to democracy. The only way to save ourselves, according to the theory, is through a fundamental process of relearning and rethinking that also aims to radically transform our day-to-day


culture. But what role could the arts play in this process? The unique Japanese path of the Edo period began in the 17th century. At the time, Japan increasingly perceived the colonial ambitions of the major European powers as a threat, and a rebellion of Christian farmers and Samurai in 1639 provided the justification for a ban on Christianity and a prohibition on all contact with the outside world. This draconian self-isolation combined with a feudal construction boom led not just to an acute lack of energy and resources: brought on by large-scale forest clearing, flooding, drought, and food shortages became an increasingly common occurrence.2 For Japanese society, this marks the beginning of an experiment. Starting in the mid-18th century and powered by the widespread use of fossil fuels, the industrialisation of the Western world heralded a radical change for humanity, but Japan asserted its independence by forgoing the external supply of energy and resources. Because the islands of Japan have no significant coal reserves, this meant operating almost exclusively on the power of the sun. Other than iron and a few other metals, only sustainable, plantbased materials were used, the production rate of which is limited by the natural growth of plants, meaning there was never a surplus of material. Thus, long before such concepts become commonplace in the West, the solu-

tion developed during the Edo period was an elaborate system of recycling and repair. At the same time, a dedicated reforestation and soil-enrichment programme began, under which the feudal government collaborated with private forestry companies in a kind of joint venture.3 Despite a relatively high population density (approximately twice as high as today’s worldwide population density), Japan succeeded in expanding the forested areas on the islands and increasing the soil yields of farmland. And although there were recurring episodes of famine due to crop failures, the overall standard of living and quality of life in Japan was higher than that of other Asian or Western countries. Fuelled by the increases in agricultural productivity, an extremely vibrant urban culture developed. The literacy rate was also significantly higher than that of European countries of the time, and skilled crafts flourished along with the arts,4 resulting in the creation of products of the Edo culture that, to this day, are considered archetypally Japanese. The origin of these products is in the acute shortage of resources: tatami mats, kimonos, paper walls, and even sushi, bear witness to the need to conserve resources and save energy in everyday life. The Japan of the Edo period was an agricultural society. Obviously, it is neither possible nor desirable to return to a pre-industrial form of society. However, it is also

Azby Brown, “Samurai House and Garden”, from Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan, 2010.

clear that – if we hope to survive as a civilisation – we must adjust our use of resources to a level that approaches the pre-industrial period as much as possible, which is why it is all the more interesting to look to historical examples. Thus, in a world facing limited and dwindling resources, the Edo period can serve as a model. The Eurocentric narrative of progress, however, almost reflexively negates any question of limiting consumption, which has a problematic effect. How we understand “economy”, “progress”, and “development” and, as a result, how we reflect on the society’s past and future, is profoundly shaped by fossil capitalism. The view of progress this proliferates, narrowed down to technical innovation, economic growth, and globalisation, prevents the development of sustainable economic models.5 These perspectives, however, may be fundamentally inherent to our economic system itself. A capitalism without technological innovation and growth seems unthinkable; at least, it has been without precedent until now. Accord­ ing to the journalist Ulrike Herrmann, the end of fossil fuels and the introduction of a circular economy would be tantamount to the end of capitalism: “In a carbonneutral economy, millions of employees would have to fundamentally reorient themselves; in order to mitigate the effects of climate change, for example, many more people would be needed in agriculture and in the forests.”6


Very little money would be earned under such a model, however. But since a large part of today’s energy consumption is attributed to structures that provide basic social services, sustainability cannot be attained through re-education of individuals, for example, by appealing to citizens to curtail consumption or similar initiatives. Instead, legislation and regulations are required. Here too, it is worth looking back on the Edo period.7 As Michel Serres writes, “Our fundamental relationship with objects comes down to war and property. […] The sum total of harm inflicted on the world so far equals the ravages a world war would have left behind.”8 The internalised logic of growth that has led to this state of war is also apparent in the debates taking place in the field of art. A necessary transformation is often equated with renunciation and asceticism or is even seen as an attack on artistic freedom. But European architects of modernity themselves – including Bruno Taut, Walter Gropius, or Werner Düttmann, the architect of the Academy building on Hanseatenweg – borrowed from the reduced aesthetic of Japanese Edo architecture. Thus, the imperative of reduction clearly led to a refined use of materials and a particular aesthetic sensuality.9 This leads to the question of whether the principles of reduction, simplification, reuse, and deceleration can encourage

innovations in artistic production and under what circumstances this can be achieved. At the ReEDOcate ME! festival planned for October 2022 at the Floating University Berlin, artists including Michikazu Matsune, Toshiki Okada, Andreas Kreiner, Nagara Wada, Akira Takayama, Metis Arts, raumlabor, Christophe Meierhans, Sachiko Hara, and les dramaturx are going to develop their own formats to seek answers to this very question. Whereas in historical Japan, legal norms apparently brought about social and artistic innovation, the festival aims instead to create impetuses for society and politics. For Japan the Edo period ended in a traumatic development. On 8 July 1853, four American gunboats entered the harbour of Edo, today’s Tokyo. The sight of the black plumes of smoke that these ships emitted and the ships’ ability to manoeuvre without wind and sail were met with shock. During the Edo period, Japan had even abandoned the further development of firearms, a technology that had been imported from Europe and which had been employed in the civil wars of the 16th century. This was an unprecedented case of a highly developed military power giving up a superior technology and returning to the use of traditional weapons. For 250 years, the country had not experienced a war, and with the arrival of the four gunboats, Japan’s military and technological infe-


riority became strikingly clear. Matthew Perry, the American commander of the ships, refused to leave the harbour and threatened to destroy Edo with his artillery power. He carried with him a letter from the President of the United States demanding the opening of Japanese harbours to American merchant ships, stressing that the United States would only accept a positive response. One year later, he returned with eight warships to impose the “Treaty of Peace and Amity” on Japan, which marked the end of the Edo period and thus Japan’s unique 250year path. Treaties with other Western powers followed – among them the Prussian-Japanese trade treaty of 1861. Japan became not only part of a globalised, capitalist economy, it also embarked on an unprecedented race to make up for the country’s technological deficits vis-á-vis the Western colonial powers. The country secured the necessary resources for this endeavour – completely in keeping with the Western model – through the colonising of Korea and Manchuria.


2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

See Adam Voiland and Maria José-Viñas, “Ancient Dry Spells Offer Clues About the Future of Drought”, NASA Features (published online 5 December 2011) on the Pre-Columbian Collapse of the Maya: “Warum die MayaKultur unterging” (“Why Maya culture disappeared”), Focus (published online 24 February 2012); Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive (London: Penguin, 2011). Professor Yuko Tanaka at the Symposium ReEDOcate ME! Daigo Kosakai at the symposium ReEDOcate ME! Susan B. Hanley, Everyday Things in Premodern Japan (Berkely, CA: University of California Press, 1999). Matthias Schmelzer at the symposium ReEDOcate ME! Ulrike Herrmann in her lecture at the symposium ReEDOcate ME!, see also Ulrike Herrmann’s article in this issue. Michaela Christ at the symposium ReEDOcate ME! Michel Serres, The Natural Contract, trans. Elizabeth MacArthur and William Paulson (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1995), p. 32. Fritz Frenkler and Azby Brown at the symposium ReEDOcate ME!

ReEDOcate ME! Concept: Benjamin Baldenius-Förster, Aljoscha Begrich, Christian Tschirner, Makiko Yamaguchi Production management: Elisa Leroy With: Azby Brown, artist, architect, author; Nicholas Bussmann, composer; Michaela Christ, head of diachronic transformation research at the Norbert Elias Center for Transformation Design & Research of the European University Flensburg; eat&art taro, artist; Fritz Frenkler, industrial designer, Director of the Architecture Section at the Akademie der Künste, Berlin; Ulrike Herrmann, economics journalist and author; Toshikatsu Ienari, architect, dot architects; Daigo Kosakai, curator at the Edo-Tokyo Museum; Bastian Reiber, actor and director; Sampo Inc, architects; Matthias Schmelzer, economic historian and climate activist; Yuko Tanaka, president of Hosei University, Tokyo; Andres Veiel, film and theatre director; Nagara Wada, author and artist A cooperation between the Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Goethe-Institut Tokyo, the Japan Foundation, Kyoto Experiment Festival, the Schaubühne Berlin, and Floating UniversitY Berlin

Azby Brown, “What Happens to a Demolished Building?”, from Just Enough.

CHRISTIAN TSCHIRNER is head of dramaturgy at the Schaubühne Berlin. After training as an animal keeper at Leipzig Zoo, he studied at the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts in Berlin. Since then, he has worked as an actor, author, director, and dramaturg.

14.–23.10.2022 Floating UniversitY Berlin ReEDOcate ME! Festival Performance, lecture, discussion, participation



Climate protection can only succeed if growth comes to an end. What can be learned from the of the coronavirus pandemic – and from the British war economy of 1940? A contribution to ReEDOcate ME!

Ulrike Herrmann

The coronavirus pandemic made the unthinkable thinkable: from one day to the next, planes stopped flying, greenhouse gas emissions dropped rapidly, oil prices plummeted, and many countries introduced a kind of universal basic income. The government had the final say in all areas, and even the neoliberals were suddenly demanding billion-dollar economic stimulus packages. It seemed like the end of both globalisation and unbridled capitalism, almost as if a path toward greater sustainability had been found. That impression, however, is deceiving. Rather than showing how to put capitalism behind us, the coronavirus crisis proves, on the contrary, that our economic system is doomed towards growth. Although in most countries the lockdown lasted only a few weeks, the damage it inflicted amounts to trillions of dollars. Without the successive stimulus programmes launched by the public sector to stabilise the economy, many companies would have long gone bankrupt and nearly all their employees would be without a job. The trick right now is simply to “print” new money by borrowing from the government. The coronavirus crisis is, in the truest sense of the word, being buried with money. The European Union mobilised over a trillion euros, while Germany has accrued a deficit of 500 billion euros so far. It is impossible to pay off such enormous debt. Instead, the fallback solution is growth. As soon as economic output rises, the debt will lose relevance – until it is eventually forgotten. Just one problem remains: the environmentalists are right when they say there cannot be infinite growth in a finite world. The carbon footprint left by European countries, including Germany, is as big as if there were three planets to consume; as we all know, however, there is only one planet Earth. So far, governments have been hoping to somehow achieve a long-term reconciliation between the economy and the environment. The buzzwords are “Green New Deal” or “decoupling” of growth and energy. Saving the world would even be cheap, they say. Most studies assume that sensible climate protection would only cost one to two per cent of gross domestic product at most. If it can be achieved virtually for free, it begs


the question: why is so little being done in the area of environmental policy? There must be a flaw in this logic somewhere. To uncover this flaw, it’s worth looking at the CO₂ tax recently introduced in Germany, which is supposed to be at the heart of this country’s climate policy. In 2021, the surcharge was at €25 per ton of CO₂; by 2025, this price will increase to €55, before settling at a level of €55 to €65. Critics complain, above all, that the tax is much too low. The Federal Environment Agency calls for a CO₂ price of €180 per ton. To translate these abstract numbers into the real world: one litre of diesel would then cost around 50 cents more. That’s a lot of money. But unfortunately, the old maxim “more is better” does not hold true. Such “climate taxes” would not in fact help the environment. Because no matter how high the energy taxes are, the money remains in the system. Even though citizens would have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for their energy use, their money ends up with the state, which is then free to spend it, thereby generating more demand and producing new CO₂ emissions. The OECD has already established that “there is no clear link between a country’s emissions and its energy tax”. This finding holds true as well if energy taxes are levied in a socially equitable way. In Germany, for example, there are calls for the government to forgo the revenue from the CO₂ tax and pay households a kind of “energy allowance”. Poor families would profit, as they consume less energy, while the rich would pay more. As fair as such a redistribution would be, households would have just as much money as before overall, which they could use for flights, for driving their cars, or for streaming the Internet. Politicians confuse business and economics: a higher CO₂ price has a steering effect, but only for the individual product. Meanwhile, the general economy is being steered further towards the climate catastrophe. The German people are falling into the trap commonly known as the rebound effect. Described as early as 1865 by the British economist William Stanley Jevons, this paradox is one of the few predictions about capitalism that has turned out to be correct. If you conserve energy or save

on raw materials, thus producing the same amount of goods with less material input, actually productivity increases and enables new growth. In environmental policy, thus, relying solely on prices and market mechanisms makes little sense. Politicians know this too. The great hope, therefore, is to be able to completely switch the entire economy – from the transport sector to industry to heating – to green electricity. But this idea sounds good only if you remain in denial about the obvious problems. Although it runs on green electricity, an electric car is by no means environmentally friendly once you take the car’s resource-heavy production into account. Moreover, green electricity does not come from nowhere, but also has follow-up costs. Although wind turbines are not nearly as harmful to the environment as coal-fired power plants, they also encroach on the landscape and quickly become a problem of waste. After all, wind turbines only operate for a maximum of thirty years, after which point they become an industrial wreck consisting of 90 metres of scrap metal. The question of how to recycle the used rotor blades remains completely unclear. But above all: green electricity will always remain scarce. This statement may seem strange, given that the Sun sends 10,000 times more energy to the Earth than its seven billion inhabitants would need, even if each of them did enjoy the European standard of living. There is no shortage of physical energy, but it would be naïve to assume that green electricity could be available in abundance. Solar energy is useless until it is captured. Solar panels and wind turbines, however, are technologically complex – at least significantly more complex than extracting and burning coal, oil, or gas. For now, green electricity is competitive because it replaces “only” fossil electricity – and because it enjoys preferential treatment. The balance immediately worsens once the green electricity needs to be stored and put to use throughout the economy. One very telling unit is the “harvest factor” EROI, which measures how many units of energy must be invested in order to gain new energy units. It turns out that green electricity can supply a maximum of half the net energy that can be generated with fossil fuel


Azby Brown, “Rice Production and Its Byproducts”, from Just Enough.

variants. That is a bitter truth, because it proves not only how expensive green electricity is, but also that energy efficiency would fall by half. As soon as productivity falls, however, there can no longer be growth. If it is powered by green electricity alone, the economy will have to shrink. But what would such a shrinking look like? It helps to think it through from the end. If green electricity remains scarce, then a carbon-neutral economy is only conceivable if you do without all air travel and private cars. Banks and insurance companies also become largely superfluous in a shrinking economy. The same applies to PR consultants, travel agencies, logistic specialists, and graphic designers. In a carbon-neutral economy, nobody would go hungry – but millions of employees would need reorientation. There would be no lack of work: to mitigate the impacts of climate change, far more people would have to work in agriculture or in forestry, for example. But these jobs would not generate the same amount of real income because there is less to buy in a shrinking economy. Such a prospect for the future may seem radical, but it is quite literally “without alternative”. Unless we reduce our CO₂ emissions to net zero we will end up in a “hot phase”, which in and of itself would bring about a shrinking of the economy. Such a period of unplanned chaos would likely lead to a free-for-all fight that our democracy would not survive.


The dismantling of capitalism must take place in an orderly fashion. Luckily, there is a historical model that we can look to for direction: the British war economy beginning in 1940. At the time, the British faced an immense challenge. Caught more or less off guard by the Second World War, the British government had to completely adapt the economy to the war effort while ensuring that the population did not face food shortages. The first consequence was a statistical revolution: the national accounts system was created, which to this day is a standard instrument of all economists. This new tool made it possible to calculate how many factories could be used to produce military equipment without jeopardising supply to the civilian population. The result was a capitalism without a market, which functioned surprisingly well. The factories remained in private hands, but the production targets for weapons and consumer goods were prescribed by the state – while food distribution was organised publicly. There were no shortages, but there was rationing. The Britons thus invented a private and democratic planned economy that had nothing in common with the dysfunctional socialism of the Soviet Union. This form of state control was immensely popular. As the British government discovered as early as 1941, the rationing programme was “one of the greatest successes on the home front”. This form of prescribed egalitarianism turned out to be a blessing in disguise: during the

war, of all times, the lower classes were better taken care of than ever before. In peacetime, one-third of the population of Britain had not been getting sufficient calories, and a further 20 per cent were at least partially malnourished. Now, amidst a war, the population was healthier than ever. When it comes to tackling climate change, society faces a challenge of similar magnitude. Here too, the survival of humanity is at stake. And while there is not much to be learned from the coronavirus crisis, one lesson stands out: the state showed once more that it can react quickly and effectively. It must soon utilise this competence to facilitate an orderly exit from the growth model.

ULRIKE HERRMANN is an economics journalist with the newspaper taz. After completing her apprenticeship as a bank clerk, she studied history and philosophy at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her most recent book, published in 2022, is Deutschland, ein Wirtschaftsmärchen. Warum es kein Wunder ist, dass wir reich geworden sind (“Germany, an economic fairy tale: Why it’s no wonder that we got rich”). This text is a slightly modified version of her lecture given for ReEDOcate ME! at the Akademie der Künste in January 2022.


In her video project Reflections of the Raw Green Crown, the artist Otobong Nkanga refers to the inseparability of Western architecture, media infrastructures, and extractivism. A long overdue denaturalisation of resources.

Otobong Nkanga, Reflections of the Raw Green Crown, 2015.

The three-minute video Reflections of the Raw Green Crown (2015) shows Otobong Nkanga with her back to the camera.1 Wearing a crown of roughly worked malachite, the artist stands facing the copper roofs of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial church in Charlottenburg and the Gethsemane church in Prenzlauer Berg. Copper can be extracted from malachite. Nkanga recites a poem about the encounter between raw and processed copper that uncovers buried memories in the heart of Berlin, which in turn lead to the colonial past of Tsumeb, a town in Namibia. “You have travelled a long way through land and sea to crown the tops of your captor’s roofs. […] You remain silent and do not want to be traces for fear of the horror within. […] I am raw. A distinct cousin. But we are from the same core. […] Guessing that you might remember Tsumeb.” The Otavi region in northern Namibia, where Tsumeb is located, was wellknown for its mineralogically unique and immensely large copper reserves. At the same time as the two churches were built, the area corresponding to presentday Namibia was annexed by the German Empire from 1884 to 1915. In the region around Tsumeb, the Khoisan and Damara communities mainly lived and worked, mining copper, and bartering it. Through the Germans, they were deprived of their wealth and their economy. Where a century earlier the “Green Hill” (as Tsumeb used to be called because of the malachite inclusions in the rock) once stood, there is now a gaping hole in the ground more than a 100 metres deep. By the time the mine closed in 1996, over 27 million tons of copper, zinc, lead, cadmium, silver, and germanium had been shipped to Germany, Belgium, and North America over a period of ninety years. In 1899, during the expansion of electricity for power, telegraphy, and telephony, German copper reserves were becoming scarce. To satisfy Europe’s insatiable hunger for copper, the “mining frontier”2 in the form of the German colonial administration wreaked havoc in Tsumeb from 1900 onwards. “The fear of the horror within”, as Nkanga says. A system of successive land grabs and slave-like working conditions was enforced. The precolonial technology and economy were destroyed, leaving poverty and ecological contamina-


tion as legacies. For Namibia, independent since 1990, there is little copper left, as its first president Sam Nujoma states.3 Nkanga makes use of the distorting video aesthetic of the fisheye lens, expanding the urban space to allow postcolonial connections to emerge. Colonial copper from Namibia, it can be speculated, is not only found in church roofs, but is also embedded within the walls of houses in electricity cables, keeps trams running, supplies whole cities with electricity, and – since copper is endlessly recyclable – also the Internet. Tsumeb is not an isolated case, but part of a system of coloniality and colonialism through which resource-rich localities have been and continue to be seized, expropriated, and harnessed into a global network of capital and infrastructure, only to be sucked dry and spat out as ruins. Aluminium, tin, copper, gold, cobalt, silver, palladium, and dozens of other minerals provide the geological materiality enabling the storage, transmission, and dissemination of media technologies. These materials, brought forth by extractivist policies and infrastructures, are inextricably intertwined with media technologies. Those who see the latter exclusively as social mass media ignore that they are contributory factors to the “mass destruction”4 of ecologies and people, predominantly in countries of the Global South. THE UNSPEAKABLE IN THE RESOURCE Nkanga’s work is to be interpreted as a call to tell stories linking media technologies, infrastructures, and architectures in the Global North with places of exploitation. Nkanga calls them respectively “spaces of shine” and “places of obscurity”.5 Since both are directly related to each other and to colonialism and extractivism, they cannot be considered independently. And yet, drawing attention to the post- and neocolonial ancestry of resources seems almost platitudinous today. Pressing questions rarely arise from this. I therefore wish to take a


Otobong Nkanga, Reflections of the Raw Green Crown, 2015.

step back and ask: what are the imaginary worlds that enable Tsumeb to become “obscure” and the computer on which this text is written to become “shiny” in the first place? Or, in other words, how do colonial relations become naturalised in the (un)speakability of “resources”? Discursive work What contributes to the failure to identify colonial links is the concept of the “resource” itself. Resources are not just stuff like cotton, copper, or oil, but are in fact tied to a certain line of thought that has its origins in colonialism and its history. At the same time as the African continent was being colonised, the terms “resource” and “raw material” emerged in Europe’s economic vocabulary. Whereas before there was talk of “natural wealth” or “mineral riches”, “resources” and “raw materials” gave their names to the material basis of modern colonial societies. Etymologically, resource goes back to the three Latin components of “re” for “again”, “sub” for “from below”, and “regere” for “straighten”. At the beginning of the 20th century, the idea of self-regenerating growth was transformed into something static to be discovered, classified, improved, and mobilised. Henceforth, this relationship dictates a universalistic approach to nature and displaces or incorporates other modes of relating ecologically, socially, or spiritually to economic existence. The history of the term “resource” describes how the in fact highly emotional topic of economic existence, embedded in dreams, imaginings, and ideas of power, identity, law, and gender, is increasingly objectified and rendered opaque by a scientific approach. In the propaganda media of German colonial policy – maps, encyclopaedias, journals, and so on – also the term “raw material” emerges in contrast to technology. The binary system of “raw material” versus “technology” is inscribed with the geographical separation of the colony as the place of extraction, on the one hand, and the city as the place of processing, on the other. In turn, this geographical distinction embodies the temporal hierarchy of “primitive” versus “progressive”. This runs along the imagined axis of evolution from nature to culture and thus from a raw state to refinement. Since raw materials are “raw”, they exist exclusively in relation to a state of becoming that can only be unlocked by means of Western technology. The supposed incompleteness of raw materials serves to legitimise the Global North in making them tangible, useful, and profitable. In short, raw materials are conceived as “natural”, “primeval”, and “available”, which perpetuates the colonial imagination and ignores precolonial technologies and economies.


The history of the concept of “raw material” shows that material entities are embedded in discursive and cultural work that continues to provide the framework for individuals and societies in their thinking about material existence today.6 But what actually happens when “raw materials” are mentioned renders unspeakable the colonial violence that accompanies resource extraction. Anna L. Tsing writes: “the frontier has come as a shock and a disruption. [...] As [those who run the frontier] come in expectation of resources, and they can ignore how these resources are traumatically produced.”7 “Raw materials” perpetuate the shock of the mining frontier because its violence remains unspeakable in them. The concept resembles the term terra nullius or “no man’s land”, which suggests that the land in the colonies was uninhabited. Even the term “colonialism”, etymologically related to “cultivation”, is a euphemism for the regime of violence. Because these terms subsume and silence violence, they must themselves be comprehended as forms of epistemological violence. “Race” and raw materials When Nkanga lends her body to the malachite and copper in Reflections of the Raw Green Crown, she states: “Surprisingly, you look like me. [...]. I am raw. A distinct cousin. But we are from the same core.” The kinship between the mineral and Black people to which she alludes is more than a metaphor. In her analysis of Nkanga’s work, Denise Ferreira da Silva has highlighted the colonial racist reconfiguration of Blackness that goes hand in hand with a negation of humanity and a reified materiality.8 Racism is the denial and reification of humanity to make people into supposedly easily extractable material for labour processes. In the transatlantic enslavement trade, it is no accident that the worth of Black people is expressed in gold and other precious metals and minerals.9 Thus there are parallels in the thinking about raw materials and “race”. Not only Blackness but also whiteness plays a pivotal role in Western (non-)thinking about raw materials. It is no accident that Nkanga follows the trail of colonial copper from Tsumeb to two churches. It is no less accidental that symbols of divinity and transcendence are used at the beginning of the 20th century to conceive of electricity as immaterial. This is exemplified by the advertising illustrations of the electric company AEG. The “Goddess of Light”, the title of the illustration, not only outshines dark clouds, but also the entire globe with an electric light bulb and her white body modelled on classical ideals of beauty. What contributes to depicting electricity as immaterial, and thus rendering the colonial conditions of copper mining unspeakable, is the pictorial tradition of the Enlightenment, heightened here with the ideals of white femininity.

Whiteness is not skin pigmentation, but a modern ideal that also embodies the desire for transparency and cleanliness. Richard Dyer writes: “To be white is to have expunged all dirt, faecal or otherwise, from oneself: to look white is to look clean.”10 The application of such ideals as whiteness and female untouchability to technologies like electricity seems to be driven by the desire to transcend colonial histories of violence and extractivism. But it was colonial copper that made electricity possible in the first place in the 20th century. In Nkanga’s words, the imagining of the “shine” of whiteness in particular leads to the “obscurity” of colonial relations. The connections established here with Nkanga, blast epistemological breaches into the notion of media technologies as shiny, immaterial, and ultimately white. In these, there must also be room for a very concrete question, namely: what do we actually owe? While colonial raw materials remain obscured in church roofs and copperbased media infrastructures, there are far more obvious references in Berlin’s Mauerstrasse on the historic Deutsche Bank building. Deutsche Bank was one of the biggest financiers of the Otavi Mining and Railway Company, which had the railway built from Tsumeb to the port in Swakopmund to ship the mined copper. The railway not only represents the final dispossession of the Khoisan and Damara communities, but is also associated with the genocide of the Ovaherero people, as the railway was built through their land, which was one reason for their resistance.11 The building’s façade shows how white people imagined this scene: white figures hand over the railway and torch to the local population in a racist depiction. The self-elevation of whiteness and technology still serve to deny colonial violence today, as illustrated by the building’s only refurbishment just recently. Money is spent on the reconstruction of a 1908 façade, while demands for restitution from the descendants of victims of colonial crimes, in which today’s key stakeholders of the German economy have massively enriched themselves, are rejected.12

1 2

3 4 5

6 7 8 9 10 11


The work is accessible after simply logging in to the artist’s website The “frontier” refers to a system of expansion that became the basis for capitalist growth from the 16th century onwards. To constantly extract new resources, geographical borders are rolled back, leaving ecological and social destruction behind. Sam Nujoma, Copper. Geology and economic impact in Namibia, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, (Windhoek, 2009), p. 86. Timothy LeCain, Mass Destruction: The Men and Giant Mines That Wired America and Scarred the Planet, (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009). Denise Ferreira da Silva, “1 (life) ÷ 0 (blackness) = ∞ − ∞ or ∞ / ∞: On Matter Beyond the Equation of Value”, e-flux, no. 79 (Feb. 2017), Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015). Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, “Natural Resources and Capitalist Frontiers”, Economic and Political Weekly, no. 38 (Nov.– Dec. 2003), pp. 5100–06, here p. 5100. See Ferreira da Silva “1 (life) ÷ 0 (blackness) = ∞ − ∞ or ∞ / ∞”. See also Kathryn Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes Or None (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2018). Richard Dyer, White: Essays on Race and Culture (London: Routledge, 1997), p. 76. Naomie Gramlich, Mediengeologisches Sorgen. Mit Otobong Nkanga gegen Ökolonialität (“Media-geological concerns: With Otobong Nkanga against ecoloniality”), Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft, 13 (Jan. 2021), pp. 65–76. Duncan Bartlett, “German bank accused of genocide”, BBC News (25 Sept. 2001),

NAOMIE GRAMLICH, is a research assistant in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Potsdam and is writing a doctorate Goddess of Light, by Louis Schmidt, 1888.

on extractivism and (de)colonisation, taking the example of the copper mine in Tsumeb, Namibia. They has published numerous texts on the coloniality of raw materials and infrastructures, on the colonial history of botanical gardens, and on intersectional-feminist methods.




The landscape seems so gentle here. Rolling hills, without sheer drops or steep rises, and yet the rash work of glacial shifts and tectonic movement long ago. The Eastern Alps and their foothills frame the view from east to west, at a distance. They’re mostly hazy-blue, in winter pink at sunrise, orange at sunset. Depending on the angle and sharpness of the light, I can make out the crags and lines of the rocky folds and they look harsh. To the south, across the flatland of fields and villages with tall, narrow, oddly minaret-like spires, lies the Adriatic Sea with its lagoons and estuaries, a luminous band on the edge of the horizon. On clear, crisp winter days and in the sudden glare of lightning during summer thunderstorms at night, the hotels and apartment buildings of the sparse seaside resorts stand out like tiny uneven teeth against the sky. My part, though, my “zona” as they call it here, is this pleasant in-between land, of fields and vineyards, small woods of beech, oak, chestnut on limestone outcrops, copses of hazel and hornbeam, clay pits, and peat bogs in secluded dips, clumps of elder. Postglacial is the word. Moraines. The backdrop to millennia of human migration, East to West, South to North, occasionally also in the opposite direction. Driven by need and greed, curiosity and despair. Birds dwell here in multitudes. I don’t know much about birds but I’m learning. I can tell some songbirds apart by their tunes and voices, and I can identify the ones my cats


lay at my feet, neat morning kills with a tiny hole in their chest matching the sharp tip of the feline tooth that has entered the ribcage. Mostly they’re redstarts, and whenever I cradle their lifeless bodies in my palm, I ask myself how it is possible that something so substantial in sound can weigh so little, as if it was the voice, now silenced, that had lent them weight. I go for long walks every day. Walking and writing go together, I believe. Pace, rhythm, flow, the odd climb, and getting bogged down. I walk, I see, I name, and hear the reverberations of the names rippling into text. Outside the village I see larger birds. Some scruffy bald ibises wandering back and forth in the middle of an untilled field. The jollier ones wander in pairs, the single ones appear deep in melancholy thought. Once I thought I heard an intermittent wail from a single one, quite far away, but I never heard the sound again. One autumn evening I encountered a flock of egrets alighting on a dark patch of land, a flutter of milk-white letters in the blue light before dusk, a foreign alphabet not to be deciphered, they didn’t stay long enough. They came on a brief inland mission from the nearest estuary or lagoon and soon flew back to lie low in their night. There’s an abundance of storks living near a waterlogged stretch of bogland. Along the small country road past the bogland, every taller pole, post, and crumbling chimney bears a stork’s nest. In August, the sky above the edge of the vil-

lage is often teeming with young storks gliding through the air in silence. It looks like a rehearsal or a performance. The birds, circling high above the fields and gardens, seem very much taken with their own skill and ease. Maybe it’s a display of prowess, elegance, stamina, a ritual before their departure: who shall lead and who shall follow, and who shall be by my side. A handful of storks, however, stay behind, apparently unafraid of winter. Whenever I spot them, I count seven to the gaggle, a fairy-tale number. They roam the harvested fields for food, gleaming white in the winter sun, casting long wintry shadows. I arrived here some years ago, a stranger to the land, to the zone. I walked and looked. I saw the abundance of stones that emerged from the soil after heavy rain. Over the years, peasants have laboriously gathered and stacked the stones on the corners of their fields, to form cone shaped heaps of broken rocks, solid little monuments to hardship and home to the reclusive pitch-black carbon snakes which emerge from underneath those uneven pyramid shelters in the early summer and proliferate. Many fields are lined with trees. Thick, short, stocky tree trunks with a grey, grainy, bark, craggy as the alpine rockface in the distance. The bark looks rough but to the fingertips the surface, away from the crags and cracks, feels almost silky. Some trunks are cloaked in ivy. The treelines organise the land, divide it into uneven expanses, define the

views. It took me a while to identify the trees. I had first noticed them in late winter, when they were pruned to the bone and reminded me of the pollard willows of my childhood, on the misty damp flatland by the Lower Rhine. Like pollard willows, they stood wounded in the cold winter air, shorn of all branches, with the mutilated stump of a crown only distinguishable from the trunk by the circular yellow sores where the larger branches had been cut. But the early foliage in the spring, shiny, big green leaves pushing forth from the cracks and crevices in the clipped crown, had nothing in common with willows. Within a few spring days the trees have their crowns restored, dense, dark green, peculiarly shunned by birds. I learned that they are mulberry trees. In my second winter in the zona, I watched men prune the trees in December and January. Everything to do with the cutting of wood – from pruning trees to the splitting of kindling wood – is carried out when the moon is on the wane. If cut under the crescent moon, the wood will wail in the fire and bristle at the carpenter’s tools, it will be good for nothing, I hear. The thin discarded mulberry branches have a reddish hue, reminiscent of reeds. Most of the tree-pruners use engine-powered saws whose howl rends the air during those wintry fortnights, followed by the dull thud of falling boughs. The thicker boughs and thinner branches are gathered in separate heaps, the boughs neatly bundled to be taken home as firewood. The wispy, thin branches are left lying between


the trees, by the wayside, or they are taken to the site of the epiphany pyre on the tallest hill overlooking the village. The fire on the 6th of January is an important event. Will the smoke drift towards the sea or inland? If to the sea, the year will be harsh, and people will have to go away and find work abroad. If the smoke drifts inland, they can stay. It’s an old superstition but still very much on the onlookers’ minds. Emigration has marked the land as much as migration passing through. Poverty, misery, and need are written into the landscape in a language I had to learn. The peasants were landless until a century ago, working the fields of the gentry for a share of the crop. They owned their houses, with cowshed and close in the beehivish villages, but nothing outside – with the exception of the mulberry trees which marked the boundaries between the fields and hosted silkworm cultures to keep the families in bread, with little butter. Silk-spinning grew into an industry, and women and children walked the five or six miles to the silk mill by the banks of the vast unregulated gravel bed of the Tagliamento river. The silk mill is now partly cloaked in ivy, like the trunks of mulberry trees between untended fields, but it is still beautiful, with its tall cathedral windows, a disused temple of broken glass, once home to the first labour union in Italy. It is winter now. For the first time I’ve seen the land under a blanket of snow. The snow shifted the proportions of dark

and light, and the mulberry lines spelt out something stark and new to me. The trees are almost all shorn now, the epiphany fire’s burnt down, and I didn’t see where the wind blew the smoke. African migrants roam deserted village streets and peddle brooms and underwear. I hear red robins, coal tits, green woodpeckers – the days are getting longer. The blackbird’s still rasping on the lookout for the odd rotten apple, to cure its throat of winter. A week or two and it will sing at dusk. I walk and walk and read the treelines, again and again.

ESTHER KINSKY, poet, prose author, and translator, has been a member of the Akademie der Künste, Literature Section, since the end of 2021. In 2020 she received the German Prize for Nature Writing.


“WE’VE AWAKENED THE TRULY GREAT HUNGER.” An exchange of ideas on the relationship between ecology, society, and art by Carola Bauckholt, Julia Gerlach, and Iris ter Schiphorst

The global threat posed by the climate and environmental crisis worries many music-creators so fundamentally that they are questioning their actions and looking for ways to express their testimonies in music, sounds, and collective projects. In order to exchange ideas about new approaches and to discuss the role of art, the Music Section of the Akademie der Künste is organising an open space conference on 7 and 8 October 2022 together with European partners. A festival is planned for the end of August 2023, bringing together local and global perspectives in sound art, electroacoustic and instrumental composition, and participatory formats. The guiding principles are being touched by sound, experiencing environmental changes through music and, crucially, making it possible to encounter these through one’s own hearing and listening, doing and participating.

JULIA GERLACH What do the issues of climate, environment, and sustainability mean in our art form, in music – aesthetically, socially, and economically? Do they affect composing, and should music be political and communicate messages? CAROLA BAUCKHOLT We’re in a situation where the survival of humanity, that is, the future of our descendants, is at stake. It’s long been known that our system of growth is suicidal in its use of resources. But now, we’re also experiencing it. Things are happening that we couldn’t have imagined: that borders within Europe would close because of a pandemic, that cultural events would no longer take place, and that Russian troops would invade Ukraine, as they did on 24 February. For many in our section, the fundamental question is how we should act as artists in these crises. Do I have to become more explicit? Does my music have a more specific task? IRIS TER SCHIPHORST At the moment, I find it difficult to write or think about “sustainability”, as this war is shifting priorities. In Europe, we’re facing a totally new political reality that we’re forced to acknowledge and in which nothing less than the face of a cruel power is revealed, embodied by Putin, a brutal imperialist who has obviously been preparing his superpower plans for a long time and now sees the historic moment to implement them – and will stop at nothing in doing so. At the same time, another part of The Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just been published and, as usual (as one is now sadly tempted to say), warns of the dangerous and farreaching destruction of nature and its consequences.


Consequences that – and this is where this report differs from all previous ones – will impact Europe particularly severely in the near future. The continent is facing extreme challenges in every respect, which will affect all its citizens. I can only hope that we overcome these challenges and, as the Ukrainians are currently doing in exemplary fashion, commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the value of democracy.

“Why we are here we do not know. But we do know that we are new arrivals (no comparison with our fellow animals, plants, and fungi that have been inhabiting the planet for millions of years). The supposed pinnacle of creation has reduced them to a pitiable, comatose state.” Luca Lombardi

ITS We know that so-called “climate change” or, better, that the dramatic increase in global warming – with all its catastrophic consequences – is caused by humans. Nevertheless, not all people are equally responsible. And the effects don’t impact everyone equally either, which is why I find the word “we” in these discussions highly problematic. It not only obscures the fact that there are profiteers of the degradation of the environment who should be held accountable and that those who benefit

most from global capitalism are best able to evade the consequences of environmental degradation, but also that those worst hit by these consequences are those who are least to blame. After all, in the name of the United Nations, this pinnacle of creation has agreed to the socalled 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are to be implemented by the year 2030. First and foremost, poverty and hunger are to be ended, quality education occupies fourth place, of course gender equality is also mentioned, and it extends right through to specific environmental measures based on the three pillars of ecology, the economy, and social welfare – too good to be true? And all this will supposedly be done whilst maintaining economic growth and full productive employment, in other words, whilst maintaining the system that is responsible for the current predicament. Sociologist Klaus Dörr advises us to wait and see. Let us see whether this system can dig us out of the hole. The experience so far, however, tells a different story; the gulf between the articulated goals and those realised has tended to widen rather than shrink over the years. In the meantime, it is important to continue working on all levels, artistically and politically, to keep a firm eye on the sustainability goals and, if necessary, to apply grassroots pressure when it becomes obvious that they’re not being met. JG Transformation of our society in all its fragmentation is a highly ambitious goal. Conferences of cultural practitioners on sustainability are always about this fundamental transformation and the contribution that culture and cultural institutions can play, especially when it comes to structures and attitudes. We’re a large institution borne by artists. Where do we take our cue? Within the institution itself? In the field of commissions and grants? In art and music? CB We’re the nerve ends of society. We draw attention to things, but the question is how explicitly we do it. I remember playing a piece by Gerhard Rühm when I was a teenager. This was around 1987, and it was called Kleine Geschichte der Zivilisation (“Little history of civilisation”). Peaceful, whole-tone chords on the piano, and on tape we hear car noise, at first sporadically but increasing in scale and culminating in a huge collapse – followed by a continuation of the peaceful piano chords. That’s a quite graphic representation of the situation, isn’t it? I also grew up with Mauricio Kagel’s opera Die Erschöpfung der Welt (“The exhaustion of the world”). I still remember the first line: “God created man and then abolished him.” Or his piece Mare Nostrum, which addressed the trashing of the Mediterranean back in 1978. The threat to our habitat from our homemade poison was very, very present at that time, but we somehow got distracted later. The awareness was there; we failed to act.

Christina Kubisch, RHEINKLÄNGE (fluid landscapes), 2013/14.



JG Yes, it’s distressing. The knowledge and awareness were there in the 1970s and ’80s, mirrored and highlighted in music: in works by Rühm, Kagel, and by Luc Ferrari who quotes extensively from texts by scientists in his audio spectacle Allo! Ici la terre (“Hello! This is earth”) from 1974. Now we’re wrestling with strategies for action and, while doing so, wondering if they can still have sufficient impact. What necessity do you see in art? CB It is neither about the greenwashing of art nor about imposing conditions on art. Just as we should treat living beings, the air, and water as equals, we should also treat our art in the same way. Not imposing our limited minds on it but giving it space to live. By this I mean the creative process, because sounds and materials are often more intelligent than we are. Following them, playing with them, is what I call composing. ITS Yes, of course, our minds are limited, but I think we need them today more than ever, as the events around us show. That is why, as a composer, I’m always interested in approaches that contribute to “self-empowerment” with artistic means. This is also true of my piece Konzepte zu Flächen(n) für Chöre und andere Gruppen (“Concepts on surface(s) for choirs and other groups”): in this piece, Fläche (surface) is treated as an impervious surface, converted into an “ecological footprint”, or as the maximum size of refugee accommodation decreed by the authorities, or even as the surface that we as Europeans literally occupy most of the day, namely the chair. However, reference is also made to Klang-Flächen (sound surfaces), with the inclusion of György Ligeti’s music. It is a performative piece with an open form, whose content is developed by the performers themselves in a prolonged process according to a “list game” I designed. The results I’ve seen so far have been totally astonishing and very exciting. JG It’s an exciting approach that also strives for a process of transformation through the self-empowerment of the performers. In the context of the Akademie der Künste, the question naturally arises as to how an institution can be transformed – as a mirror of society, with all its interlocking structures. If we expect the transformation of the whole of society, then this can only happen if institutions are also transformed, if our activities, concerts, and events take on a different shape and change. But there are still a lot of question marks about how to take concrete action, how to initiate a participatory process so that we don’t suddenly realise, as we did in the ’80s, that scientists have said it all and artists have spelled it out in their works, but there was no action. ITS Yes, it won’t work without the transformation of institutions. Courses of action, guidelines, and pilot projects already exist. This is where the Academy should join in. Furthermore, political efficacy should be achieved through an interplay of bottom-up and top-down. The overriding goals are set at the top (depending on the party/government or institutional management), and these are then elaborated at the bottom in detail to yield results that take effect bottom-up again. However, top and bottom often clash; pressure from below is necessary to get those at the top to move on a little more. So, for example, sustainability might be proclaimed from the top of the cultural sector whilst obviously meaning


nothing but austerity measures and austerity economics, and then it is up to cultural practitioners themselves to oppose this one-sidedness – and, if necessary, to vehemently push for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, almost all of which can also be applied to the cultural sector. Personally, I’d like us composers and artists to get together more, also and specially to talk about the issues of content and aesthetics in the context of “sustainability” – and even to argue about them if need be. Contemporary music is more diverse than ever, but each small group, each circle of composers and musicians, moves mainly in its own bubble. That’s why I think we need much more discussion among ourselves, because we also need to question our routines, even our artistic ones. We must examine our personal convictions and so on. CB You mention artistic diversity. As well as productions addressing and uncovering ecological issues – particularly in sound art and landscape composition as well as in field recordings – several ways of making production itself more sustainable have evolved. I’d like to mention a project here that I was particularly impressed by. Back in 1990, Daniel Ott initiated the Rümlingen Festival. Ado Müller, a clergyman in a small village near Basel, placed his church at the festival’s disposal. From this starting point, the festival ventured out into the countryside. For example, the subject of “twilight” was chosen one year, and the sunset and sunrise were composed on a hill in the Basel area. That seemed a daft idea to me at the time. Who’d come to a sunrise out in the country at four o’clock in the morning? But Daniel Ott unflinchingly stuck to his guns and approached composers who had contributed to the project. To my surprise, the place was packed, with busloads of people coming from Basel and hiking up to witness the sunrise in different sound situations – Manos Tsangaris with Markus Stockhausen up a tree and me lying on resonating hay bales. Or the project stromaufwärts (“Upstream”), in which an unexpectedly large audience wandered “upstream” in the dark for an entire night, past various sound stations most of which, because of the darkness, were audible only – until they reached the bed scenario in a clearing in the moonlight. JG For me, my own listening position was important. The key experience was that you walk through an area and climb a hill, there is a certain amount of effort involved, that between the reception of the pieces composed especially for the festival, you also perceive all the other moments of sound and silence. Since the hike lasted over six hours, it was also simply a time of substance, rich in experience. CB This physical effort results in a very unusual timescale and lively participation. The Rümlingen Festival has also always had a very strong social and ecological outlook. Daniel Ott involved residents and local music groups, and other people as well as helpers and caterers. It’s not just about a single composition, but about the idea of exploring an area and making it an acoustic experience: place, habitat, and population. JG That sounds like a kind of alternative to international premiere events like the Donaueschingen Festival, in

that it includes lively local participation and occurs outdoors and thus without a lot of technical input; and it’s accessible by public transport, avoiding the multitudes of international participants jetting in. But can we get along without contact with the rest of the world? Isn’t it crucial precisely for this “great” transformation to forge trans-hemispheric communities and engage in in-depth dialogue, also with a view to climate justice and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals? Don’t we urgently need to step out of our bubbles and tackle the massive problems in other parts of the world? CB This is important and a major conflict in our work. The technology has become more compact and more powerful, but many more people are using it. It does have its benefits – we use much less paper, for example. I try to work against our frenetic pace and stay with one thing, to permit greater concentration and depth. In a global context, however, there is another factor of great concern, namely the impoverishment of biodiversity. We go outside and have forgotten the sound of insects. What does the buzzing of insects mean? Today, I occasionally hear the buzzing of bumblebees, and I’m glad I do. Which is a striking difference to my childhood experiences. I still remember having to clean car windows covered with dead insects. And today? Murray Schaffer started the World Soundscape Project in Canada back in 1971, which records, investigates, and documents soundscapes worldwide. Most of the documented habitats no longer exist at all. Mass extinction is advancing exponentially, right through to complete breakdown. The other day, I got to know David Monacchi, who founded the organisation Fragments of Extinction in Italy. I was able to hear an eight-channel version of his film Dusk Chorus. He made recordings In the Amazon basin, where biodiversity is at its highest, and wishes to pass on this experience. It was an eye-opener for me – this spectrum of sound from the lowest to the highest frequencies in a tremendous concentration and volume. I experienced the realisation of how organisms work together, that they also hear each other. Each creature only has a chance of survival if it finds a vacant slot in the overall frequency band. Otherwise, they must go somewhere else where they can be heard. Hearing this multitude of voices and huge range of trebles and basses touched me deeply in view of the wasteland we’ve created here with concrete and our comfortable lives. We simply don’t recognise the loss we’ve incurred. JG Intact, biodiverse ecosystems are also acoustically rich, so you can hear when systems break down. In the summer, I took part in an interesting “sound walk” at the Klang Moor Schopfe (Sound moor sheds) music festival in Appenzell with the Swiss artist Markus Mäder, who has cooperated with scientists to develop a special microphone that records biodiversity in soils – life and activity – acoustically, making it audible. Drained moors and dead soils, soils degraded by impervious surfaces or environmental damage, are practically soundless, and one hears little or nothing. Living, intact soils produce a rich world of sound. This method can also be used, however, to determine how regions are recovering. Mäder also uses another microphone that he inserts into trees


Two-part sound installation on the banks of the Rhine (October 2013–December 2014)

Christina Kubisch, RHEINKLÄNGE (fluid landscapes), 2013/14.

The Rhine is not just a river. It is a mythological place, a setting in the Romantic period, a site of recreation, an embattled border during two world wars. It is also a waterway, a floodplain, and a drainage channel for industry. But what does the river sound like? What do you hear on the Rhine? In the Rhine literature of the Romantic period, there is much written about people singing on boats (the famous Rheinische Liedertafel is an example of this), of the sounds of ferries and barges, of the waves splashing on the shore, and so on. But in most cases, the literary descriptions remain “silent”; the eye apparently sufficed to achieve a certain degree of general rapture, and one can assume that contemplation at a certain time was not yet disturbed by loud and obtrusive noise. The discrepancy between what can be seen and what can be heard on the Rhine was the starting point for my work Rheinklänge (fluid landscapes). It’s about listening on, above, and below the water. What can be heard and what can be seen at the same time? Do the sights match the sounds and vice versa? Over a period of several weeks, I tapped into and recorded the Rhine from its banks, on its bridges, above


and below the water. There are sounds that can be experienced without devices as well as sounds that can only be heard with the aid of special microphones/hydrophones and pick-ups. Of particular interest to me were the sounds that are not immediately perceptible – those that are largely inaudible but can be made audible. These include transmissions from underwater microphones (hydrophones), which make it possible to hear the motion of ships totally differently to how they sound above the surface. Above the water, the ships produce almost uniform and not very characteristic rhythmic sounds and timbres, but underwater they have an astonishing dynamic of their own. Sound transmits and propagates differently in water than it does in air. You can hear the various engine noises long before you see the ships, and the frequency range extends down to the lowest pitches. The sounds of modern container ships, for example, are as powerful and noisy underwater as vehicles on a motorway. In the installation, “contemporary” intersecting sounds of the Rhine from below and above ground are audible on both banks of the river, spatially connected

by the so-called Südbrücke (Konrad Adenauer bridge). A second bridge is created by the sounds themselves that wander from one bank to the other, popping up again and again on one bank or the other as if they had taken flight or swum through water. As a unifying element, these sounds of instrumental or electronic origin are joined by the amplified real sounds of the Rhine. These are transient events that seem to come from the ether or the water, intangible and unidentifiable, like an indirect response to the real noise of shipping on the Rhine.

CHRISTINA KUBISCH, installation and sound artist, has been a member of the Akademie der Künste, Music Section, since 2013.



Tree-planting in 2008.

A piece from the “Weiss/Weisslich” series, consisting of tree sounds, dates to the mid-1990s. The sounds of eighteen different trees were recorded and sound-edited in immediate succession, so that the differences in their respective timbres of rustling stand out clearly. At the same time, I conceived the piece “Weiss/Weisslich 26, Skizzen für ein Arboretum” (“White/whitish 26, sketches for an arboretum”), the plan being to plant trees based on acoustic considerations. Since I did not expect to be given an immediate opportunity to implement such a project, initially the piece consisted of an ever-expand-ing notebook of observations in the field and various ideas for tree plantings in special arrangements. Approximately twelve years after the first sketch, the first arboretum was planted in Ulrichsberg, Austria, in April 2008.


But of course, this was just another step on the way to the actual arboretum; because the trees are still so young, they do not yet offer enough resistance to the wind (which is supposed to “always” blow at the chosen spot) to sound properly. The trees must first mature, and so the piece will only come to fruition in thirty to forty years. That makes this project a particularly sustainable one! (From: “Vom Gesamtkunstwerk zum Gesamtwerk, Gespräch mit Andreas Fellinger” (“From the total work of art to the total work, conversation with Andreas Fellinger”), slightly modified; originally published in: freiStil, Magazin für Musik und Umgebung, 2008.)

PETER ABLINGER, composer and sound artist, has been a member of the Akademie der Künste, Music Section, since 2012.

to make drought stress audible, which is a rhythmic sound, a rattling. The point is to make the urgency perceptible to listeners. ITS Besides the loss you mention, there is something else that crosses my mind. Shouldn’t we make it possible to have this multiplicity of voices in human society? Don’t we need a better, more socially just order in which truly every voice is heard? History teaches us that this must be fought for.

“We’ve lost respect for nature and empathy with the many other living beings and only felt for ourselves. Trees, birds, and wasps are now dying. And it is getting warmer and warmer in our greenhouse. But – and this we must not forget – we had the best of intentions. We industrialised to end human hunger and promote prosperity. That has somehow gone wrong. In doing so we’ve awakened the truly great hunger.” Walter Zimmermann

ITS The great hunger continues. It is repeatedly about the “land grabs” that neoliberalism is encouraging, must encourage, because it constantly needs to identify new markets in order to “grow”, in order to be able to “keep the ball rolling” (although we know that this model has actually long become obsolete). This “hunger” tends to stop at nothing. Not at water, not at DNA, not at care, not at the mineral resources in the remotest nature reserve. The philosopher Eva von Redecker describes our peculiar concept of property ownership: a forest may be cut down if the owners so decide, even if it is ecologically or economically absurd. For her, it is above all this form of ownership that is accelerating the degradation of nature. CB: Art is called upon to make this problem audible and perceptible. Surprisingly, we’re only moved emotionally either when we’re up to our necks in water, as was literally the case recently in the Ahr valley, or when something appeals strongly to our emotions. I find it very interesting that there is even a term for it, solastalgia. Solastalgia refers to the sense of loss and emotional anguish we feel when distressing environmental changes unfold before our eyes. The term was coined in 2005 by Glenn Albrecht, Professor of Sustainability at Murdoch University in Western Australia. It’s no longer a matter of scientific fact, but rather of our survival. We all know the difference between intellectual insight and the emotional response of when we feel deeply and react with anger and sadness – which is when we can change our behaviour. In the Music Section of the Akademie der Künste, we’ve been specifically addressing this issue for some time now, and the more deeply we think about it, the more radically and catastrophically we also question our work. In this respect, there is a real sense of urgency in dealing with it.


ITS Andreas Malm has pointed out that, in our process of global warming, the temporal connections extend centuries into the past and into the future. Today’s temperatures in the Middle East are thus the consequence of combustion processes that took place at other times and in other places. Can we as composers, who are also specialists in time (our art unfolds in time), perhaps use our skills to make these temporal dimensions and causalities audible? My work is repeatedly concerned with the interaction of disparate material from different times and contexts and about the question of which interrelationships arise audibly… CB Solastalgia, by the way, is the title of a piece that is currently being produced in collaboration with violinist Karin Hellqvist in the Academy’s Electronic Studio. Last year, we sent various sounds of ice – melting ice, the rubbing of the ice floes, what it sounds like when water and air interact under a thin sheet of ice – back and forth to each other, and Karin imitated these sounds on the violin. Many recordings focused on just one aspect, so we had a lot of individual tracks to put together. We crawled tonally into the element of ice and let it speak through our ears. JG Interesting that you bring up the example of ice. The melting of the ice caps is one of many environmental changes that we don’t directly experience, and temporalspatial distance is a problem when it comes to emotional responses. Many regions of the world are already much more seriously and existentially affected by climate change than we are, so we cannot exclude global contexts. We need to think about them even if we do not experience them directly. Music can generate awareness of these global contexts. Christina Kubisch’s work aims to make the inaudible audible – electromagnetic voltages such as those emitted by our computers, or the huge volume of underwater noise caused by shipping on the Rhine. CB There are a lot of cooperative ventures between science and music, because our ear, the artistic ear, perceives things differently than the scientific ear. This is already reflected in the development of the various microphone systems. Microphones are, after all, the extension of our auditory capacity, and they also influence the end recordings. The same goes for the tools of analysis. In this respect, there is a need for our ears.

“RÜMLINGEN LANDSCAPE OPERAS applied / transposed to the city. For example, pieces composed for a stream or river of the rural idyll of Rümlingen are applied to the river or stream of 6-lane traffic on ‘17. Juni’. – In the sense of: THIS is nature too! WE are also nature. Consequently, nature has no opposite. Nature is nonsense. In the sense of: Simply using the term ‘nature’ is a distraction from the real problems. ‘No people, no problems’ (Stalin).” Peter Ablinger

CAROLA BAUCKHOLT, composer, publisher, intermedia artist, has been a member of the Akademie der Künste, Music Section, since 2013 and Director of the section since 2021. IRIS TER SCHIPHORST, composer, performer, and author, has been a member of the Akademie der Künste, Music Section, since 2013 and Deputy Director of the section since 2021. JULIA GERLACH is Secretary of the Music Section of the Akademie der Künste.



Composing was always a kind of panic act for me (the deadline, the lack of ideas, the collaborators …), and maybe I am predisposed to a pessimistic and alarmistic world view. Can I hope that this gives me a kind of aesthetic competence in facing the ecological, social, and digital catastrophes of our time? How can we save the Art from politics? “Crisis” – from Greek krisis, “Decision”, from krinein “to decide”. In 2012, I wrote (one of) my (many) crisis piece(s) “Musik”, and the crisis in question here, of course, was the wellknown “crisis of music”. The dramaturgy of the piece included a catalogue of different futile attempts to revitalise contemporary music and the concert situation. It built up to a dramatised krisis, a moment of scission and decision: a big NO to the whole situation of the concert, the standardised relation between composer and musician, the production apparatus of the new music festival, the bureaucratisation and academisation of new music. Instead, a new genre was formed: “opra” – an own-institution, grounded in my own opra house “The Norwegian Opra” – where (maybe) a utopian idea of pure artistic freedom was to be realised. The initial strategy to achieve


this was to do everything myself (composing, directing, building, performing, selling tickets, and being the only one in the audience). Ten years later, the institution has built a small imperium in the forest in Sweden consisting of two opra houses, an opra barn and an opra meadow, as well as a dedicated crew of Opra-Superstars. The opra film series “Ø” now consists of seventeen episodes where we follow three protagonists’ withdrawal from the world – from “the Outside”, from “the System”, from the rising sea levels – to prepare in contemplation and concentration for the socalled world changing “Event”. A spin-off to “Ø” has been launched: “The Followers of Ø”: “The Followers of Ø” have seen all episodes of the opera series “Ø”, maybe on the Internet. The Followers are idealised audience-precariat-proletariat-interpreters, who have taken it upon themselves to transform the message of “Ø” into praxis in the world, and “to act so that there is no longer any distinction between Life and Idea”. I guess the “Followers of Ø” is also a fantasy about utopian universalism: these figures quasi-represent ALL outcasts – the weak, the stupid, the old, and the lonely. They are building the ever-expanding off-grid-Prepper-

Operndorf on the meadow in Sweden and have recently constructed a fully functional Outdoor-Air-ConditionedGeoengineering-Weather-Machine, a Waldbrand-Erlöscher-Apparat (Forest-Fire-Extinguishing-apparatus), a Rainwater-Filtrator, a massive Popcorn-hoarding-storage, and, not least, a private Cinema-Pantheon where the complete Ø-films are shown non-stop (because it is easier to imagine the End of the World, than the End of Music History).

TROND REINHOLDTSEN, composer, has been a member of the Akademie der Künste, Music Section, since 2021.

Follower: “Wir arme Leut!” (“We poor people!”) (Still from “The Followers of Ø, part .1”).

Followers: “Ø will be with you until the End of the World” (Still from “The Followers of Ø, part 1”).


CARTE BLANCHE “good design is as little design as possible” dieter rams, from: the 10 principles of good design

fritz frenkler

there is nothing man-made that cannot be associated with design. our world is designed. many people are not aware of this – for them, design only means “making things pretty”. even some designers still think they need to create something “pretty”, this is what the understanding of design suffers from. however, today, design is much more than that; it is more than only that form must follow function. as designers, we need to look at the overall system, the application and necessity of a product, product system or service (product). we must combine awareness of the societal context and the challenges of our time with technological developments. it is about designing socially, ecologically, and humanly appropriate products that have a positive effect on our society and environment. technology cannot be political, but design can, and it must take a stand. we must all accept the challenge of representing the interests of a decent life. this includes not only producing desirable products, but also making it clear to companies and organisations that a new product does not work and is not necessary if it is socially questionable or ecologically problematic. ecology (sustainability) is one important factor to consider when designing and manufacturing a product. in a contemporary society that celebrates abundance and consumerism, which has led to the catastrophic climate issues, reduction and sustainability should be put at the centre of the design approach. reduction is often associated with restraints and austerity. however, it does not necessarily need to lead to limitations but rather can boost efficiency and encourage innovations. we don’t need to buy new products, if the ones we purchased initially are of a good quality. we don’t need to produce so much waste, contributing to soil and water pollution, if there is more value attached to the choices of materials at the production stages. through qualitative research, high functionality, and sustainable resources, design can only benefit from reduction.

in general, the idea of reduction can also be traced back to japanese buddhism and the philosophy of sen no rikyū. this tradition travelled through history into modern times and can be found currently in a variety of fields – from architecture and product design to fashion and art. it was first brought from japan to europe by the dutch and manifested itself in the works of de stijl, bauhaus, vhutemas, hfg ulm, and later in the designs of dieter rams for braun. in japan the concept of reduction gained increasing popularity once again in the 20th century. some contemporary representatives of this minimalist approach are the designers and architects shirō kuramata, ken'ya hara, tadao andō, sori yanagi, isamu noguchi, kenzō tange, kishō kurokawa, kengo kuma, shigeru ban, and kenji ekuan.

taking dental technology developed by fritz frenkler and his f/p design teams for the japanese dental product manufacturer morita as an example, we can clearly see the strength of a formally minimalistic and sustainable design philosophy that inspires a new generation of japanese and german designers as well as other manufacturers. with increasing technological complexity of the devices, fritz frenkler relies on reduction, this creates precision, coherence, and clarity. these elements provide security in the use of medical devices and increase the necessary hygiene. they are easily recognised and offer the user a calm and peaceful treatment environment. dental x-ray / veraview x800 / j. morita. mfg. corporation, kyoto, japan / design by fritz frenkler and f/p design dental handpiece maintenance unit / lubrina 2 / j. morita. mfg. corporation, kyoto, japan / design by fritz frenkler and f/p design intraoral camera / penviewer / j. morita. mfg. corporation, kyoto, japan / design by fritz frenkler and f/p design endomotor with apex locator / triauto zx2 / j. morita. mfg. corporation, kyoto, japan / design by fritz frenkler and f/p design dental treatment unit / soaric / j. morita. mfg. corporation, kyoto, japan / design by fritz frenkler and f/p design

fritz frenkler is an industrial designer, founder of f/p design with studios in munich, berlin, and kyoto; emeritus of excellence, technical university of munich (TUM); member of the if design foundation, hanover, and director of the architecture section of the akademie der künste, berlin.



From 18 to 23 September 2021, the trip to Portbou – long planned by the Walter Benjamin Archive and KUNSTWELTEN and repeatedly postponed due to the pandemic – finally took place with school leavers from the Rosa Luxemburg Gymnasium in Berlin, the President of the Akademie der Künste, Jeanine Meerapfel, and the director of the Walter Benjamin Archive, Erdmut Wizisla. Their train journey via Paris and Perpignan took sixteen hours, and the return trip around twenty. In the months before, they had visited the Archive, read Benjamin’s Theses on the Philosophy of History, his Moscow Diary, extracts from his Arcades Project, and reports by friends and contemporaries; they watched films about the events in the Spanish border town of Portbou and held Zoom conversations. In Portbou, they visited Dani Karavan’s Arcades memorial site, they saw the hotel where Walter Benjamin took his own life to prevent extradition back to France, and on 21 September, they walked the route in the Pyrenees from Banyuls in France to Portbou that Benjamin had to take on 24 and 25 September 1940, as described by Lisa Fittko who helped him flee. Film director Sophie Narr accompanied the group to film the trip, which was publicly screened at the Akademie der Künste on 2 May 2022.

The wind whips the hair in the stranger's face. The homecoming. Loud it whistles in the ears and rustles. Is it the sea? The blood? There the border. Then: borderless silence. No wind and not a word either. Just breath and the calm sea on the horizon. Close your eyes carefully. It's the blood. "In the Pyrenees", Florentine Osche, 21 September 2021



Maybe it’s all a bit too much. 19 minutes de retard – voilà – the announcements on the train are only in French, not exactly a contribution to good international relations.

Berlin, 17 September 2021 A day before the trip, I ask myself if I have read enough, if I know enough. My fascination with Walter Benjamin is much more a fascination with his biography. Because, often, I don’t understand his sentences. Sometimes, I find them to the point and even funny: W. B.: “Yesterday we saw the what’s-it.” His friend: “What kind of what’s-it?” W. B.: “You know, the sunset.” The awful thing is that we are looking at W. B. from the vantage point of his death. Would he have wanted that? What interests me is why he showed so little interest in Judaism, why he didn’t take up Gershom Scholem’s ideas, and why he made no attempt to claim Judaism for himself.

Sunday, 19 September 2021 In Perpignan, we set off for the Centre d’Art Contemporain Walter Benjamin, which no longer exists – as we find out. We only find a Centre d’Art Contemporain with an aesthetically underwhelming exhibition of a painter and sculptor on the first floor and a definitively tasteless photo exhibition on the second floor. A beautiful building; a twisted story. In the summer of 2020, the Akademie der Künste declared its solidarity with French intellectuals who, in an open letter in Le Monde on 30 June 2020, protested against Perpignan’s then newly elected right-wing mayor’s (Rassemblement National) illegitimate use of Benjamin’s name to adorn himself with borrowed plumes. Fortunately, W. B.’s heirs banned the mayor from using the name. Now the place is called Centre d’Art Contemporain – tout court – and continues its insignificant existence.

18 September 2021 Train journey to France. Departure early in the morning at 6:00 a.m. – not my time of day. We all – students, teachers, us from the Academy – gather on platform 13. We all wear masks, and I worry that I won’t recognise them. I carry with me the thick book Begegnungen mit Benjamin (“Encounters with Walter Benjamin”) edited by Erdmut Wizisla. I haven’t read it all yet. A man comes up to us on the train. Kerstin and I sit facing each other and talk quietly – I don’t know if he might be part of the group, so I give him a friendly look. He says to me sternly, “Can you read?” I’m holding the book on Benjamin in my hand, so I say naïvely, “Yes” (immediately feeling guilty for not having read it all). The man points to a sign on the wall: “Ruhebereich; Quiet zone; Area del silenzio; Zone repos …”. The man nods, satisfied with himself (“See?!”), turns, and goes back to his seat. – Now the top of the bottle of hand sanitiser has come off in my handbag. Everything is wet. This diary as well, but only the top corners. Travelling in the times of a pandemic …

Arcades memorial, Jasmin Schubert.

Strong wind in Perpignan: the girls play at throwing paper aeroplanes into the open suitcase – a suitcase that symbolises W. Benjamin’s – that travels everywhere with us. We take the train to Portbou. “Ah!” and “Oh!” as we see the Mediterranean to our right. The Wi-Fi connection in our part of the train is “Frontera 1941”. It was here in Portbou that Benjamin killed himself on the night of 25–26 September 1940. In the evening, we ask the students what, from their point of view, is the purpose of this trip. “To empathise”, they say. To empathise, from the travails of the journey, with what Benjamin went through. E. Wizisla probes and follows up – one student, visibly moved, says, yes, to empathise, then finally to find peace: “To feel peace—”.

Monday, 20 September 2021 Diary page.

We go together to the Arcades memorial site to see Dani Karavan’s work.


Arcades memorial, Florentine Osche.

No words can describe the emotional upheaval evoked by this work of art. The students: some of them sit down in front of it and start drawing. Others go down the steps to the pane of glass where the passage ends. They are very quiet. Each has to deal with her own feelings. There’s hardly any talking, just quietly taking it in. In the afternoon at the station. Meeting with Pilar from the Fundación Angelus Novus (after Klee’s angel of the same name that Benjamin loved so much). “But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress."1 W. B., Theses on the Philosophy of History, 1940. Evening discussion: the pupils share what struck them while reading the book. Two at a time, they narrate the descriptions of the encounter between Asja Lācis and Walter Benjamin. (eight students / three teachers / two archivists / Marion / Kerstin + myself) The students read quotes that caught their attention. Descriptions of Benjamin, particularly by Asja Lācis, by Charlotte Wolff, by Lisa Fittko. They try to understand Benjamin’s psychology. Marion Neumann quotes Brecht, trying to emphasise Benjamin’s politics.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021 The group walks the route taken by Benjamin. They set off early without me. I don’t feel up to six hours of mountain climbing. In the end, they were on their way for more than eight hours; they got lost and separated but got back together again. Around 5:00 p.m., I start to worry … Via WhatsApp, I start texting with Erdmut Wizisla. - Are you ok? - We don’t know. Or, rather, we can’t tell until we find the trail again. But how are you? - I’m fine. Am in my room writing. But have you lost the way? Should I be worried? You really ought to be



getting back soon … We’d be glad to be back too. Don’t give up on us yet. But you don’t have to worry yet. Now we’re back together again. The sun has come out and we’ll manage the final hour! Good! Please keep me posted.

wrapped (posthumously) by Christo. We all meet up again at the Gare de l’Est, board the train to Frankfurt, where we will then change trains for the last time to Berlin. Bottom line of the trip: there is no bottom line, only a continuing experience; a knowledge that will grow and consolidate over the coming days and weeks.

Last day in Portbou We visit the exhibition at the train station about the house that is to be established as the Benjamin House. Pilar runs a W. B. foundation.

Sketch, Jasmin Schubert.

After the visit, we need a place to get together and talk. We ask Pilar if it’s okay if we take plastic chairs and sit on one of the train station platforms. No problem. We sit in a semicircle at the end of the old platform. The girls start talking: - I felt like – even though I wasn’t threatened – I wanted to go down to the sea. - I found it overwhelming. Everyone was quiet at the border (says Elli, the dog at her feet). - I thought we should spend more time feeling what it was like. - Whether one can feel what it was like when there is questionable. - Seeing his fleeing in a wider context. - It’s beautiful by the Mediterranean, but … - We don’t necessarily have to feel empathy. - Extreme gratitude that I can have a kind of holiday, compared to what happened to him and others. - I felt a kind of peace. - None of us – thankfully – are in that situation … - Gratitude. - I think Benjamin would have wanted us to reflect on this. - I take a critical approach to everything. - Building a bridge to the present. - Why not say in plain words: it’s incomprehensible. - To be glad of the privilege of not being persecuted. - …..

Sketch, Florentine Osche.

liberation. That I can invite one or two of them to Passover … And everyone is enthusiastic, everyone wants to come. Now I have to see how I can organise that next year. But, in this moment, I understand that they don’t learn anything about all that at school. How could they? Without Jewish teachers. It was always clear to me that the big “gap” can only be overcome in a school with active religious education. The lack of knowledge about Judaism of these girls – who are enlightened and open-minded – is the fault and the terrible mistake of the adult generation. What do German cultural planners and educators think? That antisemitism can be combatted whilst there is hardly any knowledge about Judaism? They should be ashamed of their stupidity and ignorance.

Kerstin = Kerstin Diekmann (personal assistant to the Academy president) Marion = Marion Neumann (head of KUNSTWELTEN, a cultural education programme)

President of the Akademie der Künste.

Sketch, Florentine Osche.

In the evening, we go out for dinner together, once again on the Rambla, by the beach, in a simple bar. We had made friends with the owner’s sister, Mari, and asked her to cook “paella” for us, which she did. And also a few portions of cooked vegetables, as most of the girls are vegetarian. The big issue for these young women is climate policy. That’s what interests them most. The two who are already 18 will vote for the first time this year.

The trip comes to an end



JEANINE MEERAPFEL, is a filmmaker and

--They want to know from me which traditions of the Jewish faith I adhere to. I explain that, although I am not religious, the Jewish culture is important to me. That my parental home was Jewish-liberal (threetimes-a-year Jews, that is, Jews who go to the synagogue for Passover, Rosh ha-Shanah, and Yom Kippur). I tell them about Passover, that it is a celebration of

Sketch, Florentine Osche.

Early start again – 5:30 a.m. departure from Portbou to Cerbère, where we take the train to Paris. We discuss whether to walk through the Marais quarter in Paris (why?). No one wants to walk the streets of Paris with luggage. So everyone decides to go to the Arc de Triomphe,


Gerhard Leo with his father Wilhelm Leo in front of the bookshop LIFA (Librairie Française Allemande) located at Rue Meslay, in Paris around 1934.

Carsten Wurm


Certificate of good performance of the student Léo Gérard from his school in November 1934.


The itinerary that the later journalist Gerhard Leo took during his exile has been familiar since the publication of his autobiography – Frühzug nach Toulouse (“Early train to Toulouse”) (1988; trans. French 1989) – and the books on family history by his grandson Maxim Leo – Red Love: The Story of an East German Family (2009) and Wo wir zu Hause sind (“Where we are at home”) (2019). It led from the small Brandenburg town of Rheinsberg to Paris and Toulouse and there into the ranks of the French Resistance. Now that the Gerhard Leo Archive has been established, it is possible to document the various milestones. The few but informative papers and photos add important facets to the overall picture of exile in France. First, there is a school report for the pupil Léo Gérard – as spelt in French – testifying to his fine achievements in November 1934. Gerhard Leo was 11 years old and had only been attending the French school for a little over a year. He had come to Paris with his parents in September 1933 without knowing a word of French. At first, he had even rejected the new language because he wanted to return to Rheinsberg, to the beautiful house with its garden by the lake and to his friends. Now he had made so much progress that he was praised for it. Later, as a journalist, Gerhard Leo was equally proficient in French as in German. The family fled to France because the father Wilhelm Leo, a well-known lawyer from an assimilated Jewish family, had made a name for himself as an opponent of National Socialism. In 1927, for example, he had won a legal case against Joseph Goebbels. The then Gauleiter of Berlin claimed to have been tortured by French military personnel during the occupation of the Rhineland in 1920 and had suffered a walking disability. Leo submitted to the court a certified copy of Goebbels’ military papers attesting to his clubfoot-related exemption from service in the First World War. The family assumed that


Leo was deported for this reason to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1933 after the Reichstag fire. According to more recent research, Leo’s local political activism against the National Socialists was probably more compelling. With no prospect of employment in the French judiciary, Wilhelm Leo opened a bookshop in Paris, Rue Meslay, in 1934. A photo in the Gerhard Leo Archive shows the proud bookseller and his son, Gerhard, standing outside the shop. Books are laid out and newspapers hung up in three windows and in the door frame. The large shop sign reveals that a stationer and a lending library were also attached to the bookshop by the name of LIFA (Librairie Française Allemande). The furnishings and upkeep were financed by one of Wilhelm Leo’s cousins, who was the general manager of the Perrier mineral water company, which is still well-known today. The family of five initially lived in the bookshop, in a separate room and in the hallway, until the cousin visited their home and made it possible for them to rent a flat in addition. Wilhelm Leo proved to be quite unsuited to mercantile life. His wife, Frieda, had her difficulties with him, for he would have preferred to keep the books. Nevertheless, the bookshop became an important address for German-speaking exiles because Leo volunteered as legal counsel for Schutzverband Deutscher Schriftsteller (Association of German writers) and made his shop available for meetings and events. The children – Gerhard and his two older sisters Ilse and Edith – remembered visits from Heinrich Mann and Anna Seghers as well as Egon Erwin Kisch, who astonished them with magic tricks and taught them and other émigré children French history. This anti-fascist activity did little to help the Leo family regarding the French authorities. After the outbreak of war, political refugees from Germany were also considered “enemy aliens”. The public prosecutor’s office of the Département de la Seine seized the bookshop by official order on 29 November 1939. The family was split up and temporarily interned, except for the son, who was not yet of age, and the mother who looked after him. Gerhard’s father and older sister, who had fled to the still unoccupied south of France, later found shelter in a church institution. His mother and younger sister, on the

Confiscation of Wilhelm Leo's bookstore, 1939.


other hand, were forced by the occupying forces in Paris to return to Germany, where they were taken in by their grandmother in Hamburg. Gerhard Leo also fled south and found refuge in a home for Jewish children. A residence permit for the “non-working” refugee dated 6 February 1941 certifies Leo Gérard as living in Limoges, Château de Montintin, Château-Chervix commune. The Jewish home run by the relief organisation the Œuvre de secours aux enfants (OSE) was located there, where he attended school and began an apprenticeship as a cobbler. He initially escaped a raid on the children’s home, but was then arrested for deportation to Germany. However, an extract from Berlin-Charlottenburg’s Protestant baptismal register of 17 February 1942, sent by his mother

Report on Gerhard Leo’s liberation, 1944.

Residence permit for the “nonworking” refugee Leo Gérard, 1941.

as a precautionary measure, helped him to persuade the French official that he was not Jewish. His father, Wilhelm, was deemed Jewish under the Nuremberg Laws, but had been baptised as a child. In the meantime, his sister Ilse had a partner, an Austrian doctor, who was in contact with the Communist Resistance at the age of 19, Gerhard Leo sought to join the Travail allemand organisation, which worked under the direction of the Resistance. With an Alsatian identity, he found work on their behalf in the Wehrmacht (the armed forces of the Third Reich) transport commandant’s office in Toulouse and from there reported to the Resistance on military transports. When he was threatened with exposure, he changed his identity and moved to Castres, where he helped to produce leaflets and throw them over the wall into a German barracks, and in daring operations attempted to win over members of the Wehrmacht to the Resistance. He was betrayed, arrested by the Abwehr (military intelligence unit), and put on trial. During his transport to Paris, where he was threatened with the death penalty in a further trial, Leo was freed by a happy coincidence at Allassac railway station on 3 June 1944: a unit of guerrillas attacked another train and became aware of his wagon with its guards. A Resistance pamphlet from October 1944 reports on the event, calling Leo “Le Rescapé”, the “one who got away”, for the first time – henceforth his combat name, which was to open doors for him in France until the end of his life.

Leo remained with the unit that had liberated him and thus became a member of the “Francs-Tireurs et Partisans” (guerrillas and partisans), eventually with the rank of lieutenant. He was mainly used as an interpreter, but he also had to make use of his weapon. On 15 September 1944, a document in the archive identifies Leo as a frontline representative of the Free Germany committee for the West. A photo from this time, which has only survived as a reproduction, shows a beaming young man in battledress with a beret on his head. Looking at this photo, it is easy to overlook the severity and heavy losses of the fighting in the final few months of German occupation. Leo took part in partisan operations supporting the Allied landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944. The skirmishes that delayed the deployment of German troops to the northern front were decisive for the outcome of the war. It was then that Leo lost a newfound friend, Lieutenant Michel, who was arrested by an SS unit and hanged in Tulle. The infamous massacre of the civilian population took place nearby in Oradour.

ID card issued by the Committee “Free Germany” for the West, 1944, detail.

Gerhard Leo as a lieutenant in the “Francs-Tireurs et Partisans” (guerrillas and partisans), around 1944.



The entire Leo family survived unscathed until the end of the war. Gerhard wrote to his mother and sister in Hamburg for the first time on 10 May 1945, announcing his return to Germany. Wilhelm was also looking forward to reuniting with his wife and younger daughter and hoped for a job as a judge in Hamburg. A second letter from Gerhard, dated January 1946, reveals what happened next. Wilhelm had gathered most of his paperwork and personal documents and spent the wait with his eldest daughter and first grandchild in quarters in Paris. He was active on the board of the Free Germany committee for the West, whose task after the war was to investigate Nazi crimes, bring the culprits to justice, and educate the public about the recent past. He even managed to have the seizure of his bookshop lifted and to sell the stock. He had just received the 45,000 (old) French franc and was on his way to collect tickets for a concert on 11 November 1945 when he suffered a heart attack, from which he died the same day. It is possible to document Gerhard Leo’s further career in detail with the aid of other documents, starting with his Communist Party (KPD) membership card, issued in Düsseldorf on 12 May 1946. But here are just a few milestones. Leo became a journalist, first at the KPD newspaper Freiheit in Düsseldorf, then – after moving to East Germany – at the news service Allgemeiner Deutscher Nachrichtendienst (ADN) and Neues Deutschland, for which he was to become a correspondent in Paris in the 1970s and ’80s. He was special correspondent at the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem in 1961 and in Cambodia immediately after the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979. In 2004, in recognition of his services in the Resistance, he was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour by President Jacques Chirac.

Letter from Gerhard Leo to his mother and sisters in Hamburg, dated 2 January 1945 (recte 1946), reporting his father’s death shortly before his return to Germany.

CARSTEN WURM is a research assistant at the Literature Archive of the Akademie der Künste.

The Gerhard Leo Archive, which comprises four shelf metres, contains – in addition to work manuscripts, correspondence, biographical documents, and photos – above all family papers that go back to a letter from Alexander von Humboldt dated 1831. It holds, for example, documents on the life of Gerhard Leo’s father, the lawyer Wilhelm Leo, who became a bookseller in Paris, and letters written from prison by Leo’s father-in-law, Dagobert Lubinski, a publicist and leading member of the Communist Party opposition, who was convicted of high treason and murdered in Auschwitz in 1943.




Photo of Milein Cosman and Hans Keller, 1961.



Helene Weigel as Mother Courage, 1956.

Thomas Mann, 1947.

Joseph Beuys, 1983.

Igor Stravinsky, undated.

Wilhelm Furtwangler, 1980s.


Back of Stravinsky's head, 1960s.

Hans Keller, undated.

Milein Cosman was obsessed with carrying a pen and pad of drawing paper wherever she went. She used every opportunity, the almost daily visits to concerts or theatres, press conferences, or meetings with friends or neighbours, to draw incessantly and unashamedly. Her works, mainly portraits – a wonderful and extensive selection of which she donated to the Art Collection of the Akademie der Künste shortly before her death – serve as enduring testimonies of her many excursions and encounters. As part of the estate of John and Gertrud Heartfield, who had been friends with Cosman for many years, several drawings and prints had already entered the Academy’s art collection in 1983. These are mainly drawings of the Heartfields and their beloved cats, produced in the 1940s during their exile in England and while on a visit in 1968. Jointly, both groups present an impressive panorama of the London arts scene of the post-war years, and especially the cultural life of exiles in the London district of Hampstead, where Cosman lived embedded within a large circle of friends from 1946 until her death in 2017. Born Emilie Cosman in Gotha in 1921, Milein, as everyone called her, spent her childhood in Düsseldorf before attending the École d’Humanité, a progressive boarding school, in Switzerland. In 1939, she moved to England to study art, where her Jewish family had already fled from National Socialist persecution in 1938. After graduating, she worked as an illustrator for non-fiction and children’s books and for various illustrated magazines, and soon gained a reputation as one of England’s leading portraitists. In 1947, she met her future husband, the musicologist and critic Hans Keller (1919–1985), whose striking features, as she confessed to her friend Peter Black, kindled in her the desire to draw him from their very first meeting. He remained one of her favourite models until his death; she drew, painted, etched, and modelled his head hundreds of times. In 1949, she was invited to Bonn by the magazine Heute to make portraits of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer’s first post-war cabinet. Cosman bequeathed around sixty


Open page of the sketchbook, on the right a self-portrait, 1952.

of these drawings to the art collection of the German Bundestag. In her observant and sensitive portraits, Cosman not only “identifies” important characteristics of the sitters, but also commits them so skilfully to paper that they capture the essence of the person concerned. The artist’s special and undying interest was in German cultural figures. When she attended a guest performance of the Berliner Ensemble in London in 1956, she was thrilled by Helene Weigel’s performance. With just a few strokes and with little detail, she succeeded in encapsulating the actress in her signature role as Mother Courage. At a press conference held at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum for an exhibition opening in 1983, she portrayed Joseph Beuys, wearing a hat of course, his nervousness hinted at in the unusually tremulous lines of her felt-tip pen. Cosman’s fascination for music, or more precisely musicians, is attributable not only to her relationship with her husband: she portrayed her friend and neighbour, the pianist Alfred Brendel, in symbiotic harmony with his instrument, and she succeeded in depicting the sweeping gestures of the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich just as skillfully as she did the elegance of Wilhelm Furtwängler’s conducting hand, which moves the baton with such control and gentleness, contrasting with the his upward gaze, detached from the orchestra. A personal liking is probably less in evidence here than admiration for the maestro’s skill. A close analysis of a person and respect for his work are particularly evident in the many depictions of Igor Stravinsky, some of which were used as illustrations for a book for which Hans Keller provided the text. When, like a magician, Stravinsky casts his spell on the undepicted musicians, the paper sheet serves as a metaphorical echo chamber. But humour is also discernible: even from behind, the composer is unfailingly identifiable by his bald head. Writers also figure prominently in Cosman’s oeuvre: Erich Kästner, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Elias Canetti – they were all captured by her on paper. She drew Thomas Mann, whose work she greatly admired, on 25 May 1947,

visibly tired, on his first trip to Europe after the war, shortly after the publication of his novel Doctor Faustus, while he was in conflict with Furtwängler over the latter’s reinstatement as a musician. Cosman’s snapshot drawings reflect the cultural life of the post-war period. As remarkable visual records, they are also valuable contemporary documents that localise her sitters in time and space.

ANNA SCHULTZ is Research Associate at the Art Collection of the Akademie der Künste.

An exhibition in celebration of the 101st anniversary of the artist’s birth – organised in cooperation with the Art Collection of the German Bundestag — opened on 31 March in the Reichstag building. On display until 20 May 2022 are portraits of politicians and artists that Cosman donated to the German Bundestag and the Academy. ( Admission is free; prior registration at fuehrung is required. A digital showcase of a selection of works can be found in a digital shop window ( ) and in a brochure accompanying the exhibition: Milein Cosman, Portraits from Politics and Art – Between London Exile and Bonn Republic, ed. Andreas Kaernbach and Anna Schultz on behalf of the Art Advisory Board of the German Bundestag and the Akademie der Künste, Berlin.



THE ARCHIVE OF FRIEDRICH HOLLAENDER (1896–1976) The composer Friedrich Hollaender made his mark like no other on Germany’s “Golden Twenties” with his melodies, lyrics, and revues. In Max Reinhardt’s cabaret Schall und Rauch (“Sound and smoke”), he accompanied such famous diseuses as Trude Hesterberg, Rosa Valetti, and Grete Mosheim on the piano; in the early twenties, he composed the incidental music for Else Lasker-Schüler’s play Die Wupper; his Tingel-Tangel-Theater founded in 1931 in BerlinCharlottenburg was legendary; and for Marlene Dietrich, he wrote the international hit from The Blue Angel. Werner Richard Heymann, himself a composer, celebrated him as “Fridericus Hollaender, / the Rex of major- and minorlands. / The cabaret’s greatest accomplisher!”

Friedrich Hollaender in front of his bust, around 1931.


Since 1994, the composer and lyricist’s archive – not least a treasure trove of outstanding sources relating to cabaret of the 1920s and ’30s – has been housed at the Akademie der Künste. On the centenary of his birth in 1996, he was honoured with an exhibition, a publication, and a CD; since then, the estate has also been accessible for academic research in the reading room and online at The interest is huge, and music manuscripts, prints, handwritten notes, and photos of Friedrich Hollaender and his contemporaries are constantly being consulted, quoted, and published. Alan Lareau, professor at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and an expert on the history of cabaret, plays a special role in this context. For many years, he has been exploring the estate and acted as a link between the archive and research. In enlightening discussions and publications, he has shared interesting facts and new research, most recently in 2014 with a publication about Erich Hollaender’s equally famous father, Victor Hollaender. The Jüdische Allgemeine reviewed the book – Revue meines Lebens: Erinnerungen an einen Berliner Unterhaltungskomponisten um 1900 (“Review of my life: memories of a Berlin entertainment composer around 1900”) – with the following words: “Saving Hollaender’s name from oblivion is a noble task that editor Alan Lareau has undertaken with great success. [...] The result is a glimpse into several vanished worlds at once. A big round of applause.” The Academy Archives also owe an important addition to the Friedrich Hollaender estate to contact with Alan Lareau. As an intermediary to his daughter Melodie, he ensured that an important portion of the documents, sheet music, films, and pictures remaining in the family’s possession reached Berlin in 2021. To do so, he travelled to Los Angeles, packed the crates for the archive and meticulously labelled the contents of each box. The daughter from the musician’s third marriage to the actress Leza Hay had kept some of the items at her house in Los Angeles after the initial handover in 1994. How valuable these remaining documents were, however, only transpired years later. It is not uncommon for material to be lost when heirs move house, unless, as in this case, a prudent researcher puts out his feelers and rescues what has been left behind. And “rescue” really is the appropriate term here. Several of the 16-mm film reels from Friedrich Hollaender’s estate, for example, are in a state of partial decomposition. The pungent smell of vinegar from the film packaging suggests that speed is of the essence. On exposure to moisture or heat, the acetyl groups detach from the cellulose chain and combine with water to form acetic acid, causing the films to shrink and become brittle. The eight recovered films are, therefore, currently being restored and digitised. It will be fascinating to find out what is concealed behind such a label as “in Woodrow Wilson’s house” – he was, after all, the 28th President of the United States. All the films date from the period of Hollaender’s life in exile, which started in 1933. After a timely warning, the “non-Aryan” artist and his second wife Hedi Schoop managed to flee from the Gestapo at first to Paris. There the couple stayed for about a year in the large German émigré community, moving to Hollywood a year later. The time in America was enormously important for Hollaender’s career. American “Tingel-Tangel” variety came into being. In Hollywood, after initial difficulties, he


was able to resume his film career, which had already begun in 1929 with compositions for Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel. He again composed songs for Marlene Dietrich and received four Oscar nominations. It is suspected that the film canisters, which had gone unnoticed for many years, mainly contain private footage of Friedrich Hollaender, his wife Hedi and her siblings Paul and Trudi Schoop, his parents Victor and Rosa Hollaender, and such friends as the film director Ernst Lubitsch and the film actor Ernö Verebes, who starred alongside Gustaf Gründgens and Lil Dagover in numerous films of the 1930s.

Friedrich Hollaender returned to Germany in 1954, initially to Munich. The legacy of works is enriched with autographs of his late compositions Scherzo, unsuccessfully performed in Hamburg in 1956, and Adam und Eva. Text fragments, notes, and orchestrations have been edited and made available for research. Unknown series of photographs of Hollaender and various members of his family illustrate his life, while his work is documented with film photos from Der blaue Engel, among others. Interesting, if somewhat laborious to read is, preserved in files, the correspondence with various music publishers about the rights to Hollaender’s songs and stage works. Amusing, on the other hand, is the correspondence of his Munich lawyer Wolfgang Börner with his kind attempts to make amends for his client’s somewhat lax attitude to paying for items of all kinds. After Hollaender’s death, his daughter Melodie campaigned for eighteen years to have her famous father commemorated with a street named after him in Berlin. The negotiations over the archive almost broke down in the early 1980s due to the refusal of Berlin’s politicians to allow such a street naming. Finally, in 2012, not far from Kurfürstendamm, Rankeplatz in Wilmersdorf was renamed Friedrich-Hollaender-Platz and a memorial column was unveiled. In the Archives of the Academy, the events described here can be read and the context reconstructed in almost 500 individual documents.

Unrestored roll of film, inscription: Hedis Heads 1932–35.

Hedi and her sister Trudi had already performed as dancers and cabaret artists in Hollaender’s TingelTangel in Berlin, and numerous photos of the two can now be found in the Archive. Hedi later turned to sculpture and became a pioneer of “California Pottery” in the United States with her artistic utilitarian ceramics. In 1931, she also sculpted the previously unknown 26-centimetrehigh plaster bust of Friedrich Hollaender, which has now become the property of the Archives of the Academy. Hollaender and Schoop soon separated, however, and in 1943 Hedi married Ernö Verebes. The newly acquired documents also afford insight into the family’s history. Hollaender was born into a Jewish family of artists. His father Victor, a composer, bandleader, and theatre director, was one of the most successful composers of light music and operettas and a co-founder of modern cabaret and revue theatre. One uncle, Gustav, was a conductor and another, Felix Hollaender, a successful writer, critic, dramaturge, and director. Also preserved in the collection are documents attesting to the origins of the family name. Under the Prussian Edict of Emancipation of 1812, his Jewish grandparents, Sigmund Benjamin Rachel and Renette Rachel, were officially obliged to adopt a new name. From 15 July 1837, they bore the name of Hollaender. Notes by Melodie Hollander (she dropped the “e” in her name after her father emigrated to the United States) and letters from her relatives confirm that her aunt Elise Felicitas Hollaender and her husband Siegmund Stöckel (Samuel Nuchem Steckel) were killed in Auschwitz in 1942. The memorial Stolpersteine for the Stöckel family are located in Fregestrasse in Berlin. Two of the children of the conductor Gustav Hollaender died in the Litzmannstadt ghetto and in Auschwitz respectively.

ANDREA CLOS is Archivist at the Performing Arts Archives of the Akademie der Künste.



Anneka Metzger

“Owing to the strained financial circumstances of the Akademie der Künste, I must ask you to desist from this inauguration ceremony”, writes Gerhard Boeddinghaus, Senate for Public Education, in a letter to the Akademie der Künste on 4 September 1961. What he was referring to was the planned reopening of the Villa Serpentara in Olevano near Rome, which, after a long break, was again to become available to the Academy as an artists’ residence.

Villa Serpentara, Olevano, 1961. Photo © Adrian von Buttlar.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the swathe of land between Subiaco and Palestrina in the Sabine Mountains had been discovered by artists from various European countries as the embodiment of an ideal landscape. The Romantics – from Joseph Anton Koch and Franz Theobald Horny to Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld and Carl Blechen – had set up their easels there. It was thanks to the initiative of German artists associated with the Karlsruhe landscape painter Edmund Kanoldt that the stand of holm oaks in Olevano, “the Serpentara”, was preserved in 1873. In an impromptu rescue and fundraising campaign, they prevented the threatened deforestation by purchasing the hilly terrain occupied by a grove of ninety-eight oaks for 2,350 lire. In order to safeguard the site in the long term, they donated it to the German Emperor, who entrusted it to the Royal Academy of Arts in Berlin. From the 1890s, the sculptor Heinrich Gerhardt, who lived in Rome, was responsible for supervision on site. It was he who, after the German Imperial Embassy in Rome had refused development of the site, purchased a plot of land directly next to the grove and built a “refuge” complete with artists’ studios on it. Gerhardt eventually bequeathed the property and the villa to the Academy, which inherited it upon his death in 1915. Since then, it has been sending artists to Olevano on work-study residences, with interruptions during the First and Second World Wars. And from then on, the Akademie der Künste was entrusted with a property that required incessant correspondence between Rome and Berlin and never-ending interventions. It had to be patched up and refurbished, requests for money and foreign transfers went back and forth, fire and liability insurance policies became due, the water tank had to be repaired and maintained, stoves purchased, contracts signed with the administrator, the proceeds from the olive and grape harvests agreed with the custodian family,


firewood procured, pests controlled, the right of way through the grove organised, and stone walls renewed. House rules were drawn up, and over the years countless inventory lists were made, itemising everything down to the last fork. In 1945, the Villa Serpentara was seized by the Allies. In the 1950s, lengthy restitution negotiations were held, well-documented in the files of the Historical Archives, owing to disputes over the legal succession of the Prussian Academy of Arts to the Villa Serpentara and the Villa Massimo in Rome. In 1956, under the bilateral cultural agreement signed by the Federal Republic of Germany and Italy, the villa was finally returned. In the ensuing years, the dilapidated building was inspected and makeshift repairs carried out. In the autumn of 1961, the Academy and the Senate for Public Education in Berlin decided to open the villa to artists again. The building’s dubious structural stability posed an obstacle to this, as did the still outstanding and essential maintenance work and the lack of furnishings. In the early summer of 1961, Maria von Buttlar, the wife of the Secretary General of the Akademie der Künste, Herbert von Buttlar, assumed responsibility for the villa. She travelled to Rome, where within a few weeks she succeeded in ensuring its “provisional habitability”. She not only procured furniture and tableware and negotiated with local companies and authorities, but also finally moved into the villa with her three sons for a trial stay. At the end of August 1961, in consultation with the Academy and Manfred Klaiber, the German Ambassador to Rome, a date was set for the official opening “when the holidays in Italy are over”. But then, shortly before the planned date, the Berlin Senate called everything into question again: financial bottlenecks and the political situation shortly after the building of the Wall did not seem to be appropriate circumstances for a celebration. But perhaps the invitations

had already been sent out, and the Foreign Office’s wish to “inaugurate Villa Serpentara with a small, discreet celebration” weighed too heavily. The fact is that the villa, “this small house of communication with the outside world”, as the Secretary General, who had travelled to Rome, dubbed it in his speech, was opened at 11:30 a.m. on 13 September 1961, in the presence of the German Ambassador and representatives of the cultural institutions in Rome. The Buttlars’ then 13-year-old son Adrian provided the photographic record of the event. Thanks to Maria von Buttlar’s receipts for expenses, we also know what was purchased for the occasion: “Bread and ham, sausage and cheese, cigarettes, cigars, matches, toothpicks, brochettes, mineral water, orange juice, grapefruit juice, tomato juice, 25 bottles of wine.” The following day, President of the Akademie der Künste, Hans Scharoun, received a telegram from Rome.

ANNEKA METZGER, is Assistant to the Director of the Archives at the Akademie der Künste.

The Akademie der Künste has been awarding fellowships for artists to stay in Olevano since 1961: A conference in Rome from 25 to 27 May 2022, “Olevano Measuring a Myth” in cooperation with Villa Massimo, the Bibliotheca Hertziana, and the Akademie der Künste, Berlin, is dedicated to the history of the artist town of Olevano and the Villa Serpentara.

Telegram from Secretary General Herbert von Buttlar to President Hans Scharoun, 14 September 1961.




Reinhold Würth is convinced that art is unmatched in its ability to conceive of and challenge new ways of thinking. Other art houses usually have one, or perhaps several focuses based on which they collect art and curate and design exhibitions. Not so in the case of Würth, where it is primarily Reinhold Würth himself who collects based on his personal preferences. He may obtain assistance from an advisory board, but he doesn’t leave the collecting to others. After all, the German term sammeln (to collect) is derived from the Old High German samanōn, which means primarily to “bring together, unite, and accumulate” and not “sorting and categorising”. And so, this justification – “as long as the will to express, depth, and a certain vigour are discernible in the works in question […], a collage by Hans Arp arranged according to the ‘laws of chance’ can inspire me just as much as a segment of a circle by Max Bill, a late work by Picasso, or a beautiful saint by Cranach” – sums up this collector’s free-thinking approach. The themes and epochs may change without slavish adherence to a chronology, not because Würth would consider this arbitrary, but because he realised early on that art is, in any case, an endless transit zone for a wide variety of movements. Today, the Würth Collection comprises not only old masters and Kunstkammer treasures, but also contemporary video art by David Hockney. And it preserves an international collection of nativity scenes and southern Italian cantastoria paintings just as painstakingly as it does sculpture ensembles by Elmgreen & Dragset. As a result, it has been able to stage, essentially from the museum’s own collection and only supplemented by a few loans, thematically complex exhibitions: Forest Fascination, which explored aspects of the history of the cultural awareness of nature and the forest; Menagerie, which looked at the subject of animals in art and our relationship with animals; and Water, Clouds, Wind, which covered everything from ancient notions of Christ’s appearances in clouds to the omniscient Internet and the virtual cloud. When his father died prematurely in the 1950s, the young Reinhold Würth took over the small family screw business and built it up into a global corporation. He soon also discovered his passion for art, literature, and music. Alongside his business, he experienced a growing urge to collect and patronise the arts as well as to share his passion with his employees, business partners, and the public.


In the 1980s, Reinhold Würth decided to place an exhibition hall in the heart of the planned new administrative complex of his global corporation. A guest article by C. Sylvia Weber.

On the occasion of the company’s fortieth anniversary, Reinhold Würth, who was 50 at the time, announced that an architectural competition would be held for a new, modern administration building. In addition to spacious offices, the company restaurant, and conference rooms, it would house a museum for the history of screws and screw threads as well as an exhibition space for the company’s collection of modern art, now amounting to several hundred works, some of which were in storage depots due to their size. The Stuttgart architects Siegfried Müller and Maja Djordjevic-Müller won the competition for their design, which most convincingly embodied the entrepreneur’s vision of integrating the “inspiring experience of good architecture and art into the everyday (working) lives of employees, business partners and interested members of the public, and of bringing different art movements to the attention of a broad public through active communication”. With its international outlook, culture at Würth was to be addressed both inwardly and outwardly. To this end, the 800 squaremetre exhibition space was placed in the centre of the administration building. To facilitate cosmopolitan interaction between employees and the public, the museums were to be accessible not only on weekdays but also at weekends. Würth’s approach differed markedly from that of other German companies with art collections, which at that time only opened them to certain groups by appointment or on certain days. Like public museums, Würth wanted the collection to be there for everyone, seven days a week, with free admission. On 25 December 1991, the doors finally opened, and an initially regional public took its first festive stroll to see modern art at the new Museum Würth. Since then, seventythree exhibitions have been viewed by 2.33 million visitors. The young museum experienced its finest transformation and international breakthrough in 1995. Shortly before their wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin, Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped and tied up the exhibition hall, including the interior free-standing spiral staircase, the side decks, and walkway bridges, while leaving uncovered the side walls otherwise intended for the presentation of pictorial works. Within just four months, 85,000 people came to Künzelsau to experience the walk-in artwork. The concept of the integrated museum has become established in the Würth Group throughout Europe. High-

quality exhibition spaces have been created in administrative buildings or in the immediate vicinity at ten of the company’s other locations. Music and literature are also catered for at Würth: a prize for European literature, an international poetry lectureship, and the Würth Philharmonic Orchestra based at the Carmen Würth Forum have all been conceived to intensify the interweaving of art and society. “Art and culture are not society’s cosy corner, but the very thing that holds it together”, said former Bundestag President Norbert Lammerts recently during a lecture in Künzelsau, and quite rightly so. For Würth’s commitment to culture is as much a programmatic commitment to democracy, politics, and society as the significant financial commitment it makes in terms of Article 14 of the German Grundgesetz (Constitution), as it is also for threatened or marginalised people globally. So let us stand up here against populism of all kinds – in the literal sense for limitless freedom, humanity, and democracy – especially in times of increased migration (of peoples globally fleeing war, economic hardship, or the effects of climate change) in which nothing less than the continued existence of a functioning global civilisation in all its facets is at stake.

C. SYLVIA WEBER, is Executive Vice President of the Wuerth Group for Arts and Culture. Adolf Würth GmbH & Co. KG is a member of the Society of Friends of the Akademie der Künste.



pp. 3, 4, 6–7, 20–21, 74 Mila Teshaieva/ OSTKREUZ | pp. 30–31, 42–43, 52–53, 64–65, 70–71, 73 Johanna–Maria Fritz/ OSTKREUZ | p. 9 photo Marcus Lieberenz, | p. 11 (left) © picture alliance/dpa/dpa–Zentralbild / Jan Woitas, (right) © picture alliance/dpa/ dpa-Zentralbild / Hendrik Schmidt | p. 12 © Deneth Piumakshi Veda Arachchige, photo Priska Ketterer | p. 13 photo Van Bang, Courtesy Archiv der Avantgarden, Dresden | pp. 23, 24, 26 © Azby Brown | pp. 27, 28 © Otobong Nkanga | p. 29 Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, photo Historical Archive | pp. 32, 33 Fotos Esther Kinsky | pp. 35, 37 © Christina Kubisch, VG BildKunst, Bonn 2022; p. 38 photo Alois Fischer; p. 41 © Trond Reinholdtsen | pp. 44–51 design by fritz frenkler and f/p design; pp. 44–45 photo hidetoshi yabuuchi, studio bush, inc; pp. 46, 47, 48–49 photos j. morita. mfg. corporation, kyoto, japan; pp. 50–51 photo thomas lippmann | p. 55 (left) photo Jeanine Meerapfel, (middle) ill. Jasmine Schubert, (right) ill. Florentine Osche; p. 56 (left) ill. Jasmin Schubert, ill. (middle and right) Florentine Osche | pp. 57–59 Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Gerhard Leo Archive, p. 57 (top) no. 948, photo unknown, (bottom) no. 873; p. 58 (left) no. 787, (middle) no. 660, (right top) no. 882, (right bottom) no. 658; p. 59 no. 890, photo unknown; p. 60 no. 783 © Gerhard Leo heirs | p. 61 Akademie der Künste, Berlin, photo Gerti Deutsch; pp. 62–63 Akademie der Künste, Art Collection, p. 62 (left top) KS-Zeichnungen HZ 5440, (middle top) KS-Zeichnungen HZ 5430, (right top) KS-Zeichnungen HZ 5420, (left middle) KS-Druckgrafik 7528, (right middle) KS-Druckgrafik DR 7526, (bottom) KS-Druckgrafik DR 7530; p. 63 (left) KS-Zeichnungen HZ 5387, (right) KSZeichnungen HZ 5421 © The Cosman Keller Art & Music Trust | pp. 66–67 Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Friedrich Hollaender Archive, p. 66 no. 227, photo unknown; p. 67 photo Kerstin Marth | p. 68 Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Foto-AdK-W 5485, photo Adrian von Buttlar; p. 69 Akademie der Künste, Berlin, AdK-W 899/4

Journal der Künste, edition 18, English issue Berlin, May 2022 Print run: 800

We thank all owners of image usage rights for kindly approving the publication. If, despite intensive research, a copyright holder has not been considered, justified claims will be compensated within the scope of customary agreements.

Akademie der Künste Pariser Platz 4 10117 Berlin T 030 200 57-10 00,,

Journal der Künste is published three times a year and is available at all Academy locations. Members of the Academy, the Society of Friends of the Academy, and subscribers will receive a copy. If you would like a single edition, the German edition, or a subscription, please contact or fill out the order form on the Akademie der Künste website: publications/journal-order/ © 2022 Akademie der Künste © for the texts with the authors © for the artworks with the artists Responsible for the content V.i.S.d.P. Johannes Odenthal Werner Heegewaldt Kathrin Röggla Editorial team Nora Kronemeyer & Martin Hager (edition8) Anneka Metzger, Lina Brion Translations Tim Chafer, Peter Rigney Copy-editing Mandi Gomez, Hannah Sarid de Mowbray Design Heimann + Schwantes, Berlin Lithography Max Color, Berlin Printing Gallery Print, Berlin English edition ISSN (Print) 2627-2490 ISSN (Online) 2627-5198 Digital edition

The views offered in this journal reflect the opinions of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Akademie der Künste. Funded by:

Wrapped in biodegradable foil.


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.