Adrift in an Immaculate White Void

An Encounter with Daniela Orvin, Photographer

The artist Daniela Orvin

Daniela Orvin in her studio apartment in Berlin in June 2016: in her hand, a plastic camera, her Holga; in the foreground, her photo book Dressur-Wunder; below right her dog, Laika; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Maren Krüger

“Dyslexic dysgraphia”—the title of the photo series by Israeli artist Daniela Orvin on sale since April 2016 in the Jewish Museum Berlin’s art vending machine is pretty difficult to grasp; but it simply means “difficulty with reading and writing.” “Every one of my artworks is a self-portrait,” the photographer and musician told me, when I paid her a visit one sunny afternoon at her studio apartment in Berlin-Friedrichshain. She herself has difficulty reading but she was 29 years old before the handicap was detected—despite it having caused considerable disorientation her whole life long. Place the photos in the “Dyslexic dysgraphia” series side by side and they resemble the symbols of some bizarre, outlandish language.  continue reading

The Colors of Light

Deborah Philips holding a box with her artwork

When delivering her art works to the Jewish Museum Berlin, Deborah S. Phillips naturally wears blue nail polish © Jewish Museum Berlin. Photo: Gelia Eisert

A visit to Berlin-Neukölln, to the studio apartment of Deborah S. Phillips, who is dressed in blue, today, except for her shoes, which are green. That the artist has spent the last five years examining the color blue and is only now gradually turning her attention to hues of green is reflected thus in her apparel as well as her art.

Red was the first color to which Deborah Phillips devoted herself with a passion. The Bible story she read aloud as a 12-year-old in the synagogue on the occasion of her Bat Mizwa was about the red cow—and it haunted her for ages. It was the tale of a strange animal that had to be sacrificed so people could use its ashes to cleanse themselves of sin. Only then would they be able to enter the temple in Jerusalem. Many years later, Deborah Phillip’s reflections on the color red and its cultural significance culminated in one of her enchanting works on paper, the “Red Book,” which is the fruit also of the artist’s extensive voyages in Iran, India and Central Asia, and her affinity with Islamic cultures.  continue reading

A Second Look

Occasionally there’s an item in our collection that only reveals itself at second glance: for instance, this photograph of a group of men, taken in Lissa in the Prussian province of Posen, in 1913.

A group of friends in suits, drinking wine.

Walter Frost (1893 – 1968) with friends
Lissa, Posen, 1913, photography
© Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Edith Marcus née Frost

You have to look very closely to recognize what’s lying on the table. In the left foreground, next to the various traces of an alcohol-infused social gathering, is an issue of the magazine Ost und West (East and West), and further to the right is a donation can for the Jewish National Fund with a Star of David on it. These objects allow us to connect the barely 9 x 14 cm little picture with the Zionist movement.
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