Monday, October 01, 2007

Histories, Personal and Public

As I was saying in my last post, I spent the last week with an old dear friend, and so in tandem with the picture I posted of the two of us as children, here is one from more recent days.
katie and efrat
In addition to being a very complimentary photo of our small kitchen table, it's tangible evidence of something going right. Thank goodness. Now she's gone home but it was very special. Years and years ago, we were friends in a pretty foreign land, and that's the situation once again. I take it to mean that Taiwan 1984 was meant to be, as is Berlin 2007.
She came to Berlin with her longtime boyfriend, and while they were here we traipsed all over the city, in sun and in showers. We went to a Very Huge art opening, Art Forum Berlin, which we were able to get into because one of Efrat's professors had some work in the exhibition. It was a place to see and be seen, for sure, a place where skinny goth women slipped past wealthy fat men smoking cigars, trying to impress their Dynasty-era dates with names and numbers. There were hundreds of people there. It was distracting. I wasn't able to look at the art at all, actually...too much in my periphery. It was, though, fascinating to see such a ground-zero affair.
We went, too, to the Jewish Museum, and I have to say, I was a little disappointed with the permanent collection. The special exhibitions were works by Charlotte Salomon and Chantal Akerman, and both of them were beautiful. A picture of the Akerman installation:
Chantal Akerman installation
I was proud that I could even make this picture come out properly. It was an awesome installation, and I didn't do it justice, but I tried.
Other than these visiting shows, though, the permanent museum was a bit - how should I say - pandering? Thousands of years of Jewish history in Fun! Interactive! Multicolored! displays. It was as if they were trying to make it digestible. It looked like a children's museum. The design of the building is supposed to be groundbreaking, and I suppose the fact that the only entrance or exit to the building is underground is fairly interesting, but the whole thing was a bit pat. The only piece of interest was the clanging, ghostly Memory Void.
memory void, afar
There, you had to walk over all these iron faces, mouths agape, and each of them made a horrible, sharp noise, ringing against all the other screaming faces. It was quite haunting, but it was the only part of the museum that evoked any emotion in me whatsoever. Try as I might, I couldn't walk quietly.
And now, in two days, we'll celebrate German Unity. I'll have two whole days blissfully free, and I'll go to museums, be a tourist/artist as I stop in the middle of sidewalk to get lost/take a picture, and I'll try and relax a little after a couple weeks of endless running around. I'll be in touch.

4 comments:

heather m. said...

wow.
memory void. seems like your heart would implode!

on a (much) lighter note: katie, have you guys had blutorangensaft yet? it is such delicious stuff.

inga said...

it's strange to see the apt and so many familiar views of berlin on your site...i'm glad you like it so far! is the internet working properly in the kitchen?
well we're back in kathmandu and enjoying the last 2 weeks of nepal before we're heading down to india again. sende euch sonnige gruesse und hoffe euch geht es gut. inga

Fanny Sink said...

I actually paused for a minute to wonder which dynasty era the dates were from. Tang? Ming? And then I thought -- oh! Yes! This is Katie so she's talking 'bout Carringtons and Colbys! Bless your heart.

The memory void does indeed look impressive.

Carla said...

i'm so sad i'm not there!