Sparrows, 4 Euro, and the Stuff of a City

A Conversation with the Artists Maria und Natalia Petschatnikov

The end of May, as the first palpable rays of sun shone in Berlin, offered the perfect occasion for an outing to Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood. There the artists Maria and Natalia Petschatnikov showed me their atelier and told me about “Sparrows” and “4 Euros,” the two objects they made for the Jewish Museum Berlin’s art vending machine. They also talked about their current projects and responded with good humor to all of my questions above and beyond the subject of art.

Twins on chairs in front of paintings on the wall

Maria (left) and Natalia Petschatnikov in front of part of their project “Berlin & Berlin”, 2015
© and photo by Michaela Roßberg

Michaela Roßberg: You work together and you’re twins – identical twins. What is it like to work so closely? How do you develop ideas and work on projects? And does one or the other of you start with an image of the finished work in mind?

Maria: We do a lot through dialogue. It isn’t that one of us has an idea and, once a project is finished, could say: “That was my idea.” Our work emerges from a joint process. For instance, we walk through the city and see interesting things that get us thinking. We talk about them, and together, start forming ideas.  continue reading

Esther on a Roll

Detail of a scroll illustrated with a picture of a city

Detail of a Megillah, Germany, 18th century
© Jewish Museum Berlin. Photo: Michaela Roßberg

Today, 16 March, Jewish communities are celebrating Purim. On this holiday, the biblical Book of Esther is read aloud in synagogue. In keeping with tradition, the story of Esther—who saves the Jewish people in the Persian Empire from destruction by Haman, the king’s highest-ranking official—is read not from a book but from a parchment scroll. Commenting on the (Hebrew) reading, noisy hoots and rattles are sounded. (Alternative customs are described in our blog text for last year’s Purim).

Numerous Esther scrolls are currently in the custody of the Jewish Museum. The 32 works on loan will be on display along with other historical manuscripts from 4 April 2014, in the special exhibition “The Creation of the World. Illustrated Manuscripts from the Braginsky Collection.”  continue reading

Soccer Friends

This evening a game between the Israeli and Norwegian teams will kick off the Under-21 European Football Championship in Netanya. Participating in the opening match in their home country will be something very special for the Israeli players.

Since I am a big soccer fan, this European Cup provided me with the impetus to take a closer look at what the Jewish Museum’s collection has on the subject of soccer. In our online display I discover a “Short History of Jewish Football,” and in our collection data bank I find further objects that awaken my curiosity. A photograph from the year 1936 or 1937 particularly appeals to me. I find it fascinating that soccer was already in the 1930s something boys loved to play. In the picture stands (last row, center) the young Walter Frankenstein, born in 1924, together with his soccer team:

Young football players pose before the game

The soccer team of Auerbach’s Orphanage from 1936 or 1937. Gift of Walter Frankenstein (last row, center). Photographer unknown.
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

All the boys in the picture were inhabitants at that time of Auerbach’s Orphanage in Berlin’s Schönhauser Allee.  continue reading