Friends Sixteen Times Removed and a Camel on a World Tour

A Visit to the Photographer and Architect Birgit Glatzel

Birgit Glatzel with her Rolleiflex camera on her balcony

Birgit Glatzel with her Rolleiflex camera; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Mariette Franz

It’s a warm summer’s day when I visit Birgit Glatzel in Prenzlauer Berg, the same kind of day it must have been when she shot her photograph “Angela and Me,” which, like her short film “Going to Jerusalem,” has been available in our art vending machine since April (more information on our website).

“Angela and Me” is part of a series in which the artist portrays herself with a friend in self-timed pictures. All the photographs are taken with a 1937 Rolleiflex camera, and the location and backdrop are always chosen together with the friend in question. Birgit embarked upon the project shortly before her emigration to Israel in 2007 – she wanted to take photos to remember her friends in Germany. “Memories play an important role in Judaism, for example an original piece is always left in a newly refurbished apartment,” explained the artist, who trained as an architect and works as such to earn her living.  continue reading

Achtung GOLEM!

Objekts on a table and a sign "Achtung Objekt"

Golem Costume for Death, Destruction, and Detroit II at the Schaubühne Berlin, 1987. Directed by Robert Wilson; Lender: The Jewish Museum, New York

The Golem is brought to life from inanimate material, as is the exhibition we are dedicating to him. Up until the opening on September 22, many days will be spent building, painting, felting, typesetting, printing, writing, cutting, hanging and pouring. For the celebratory opening, we have invited as our special guest, a robot who will greet the public.

Two humanoide robots greet each other

REEM and REEM C at a Meet-and-Greet © PAL Robotics, Barcelona

A piece of paper with handwriting in German and Hebrew

© Scholem Archives, The Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem, Israel

But up until that moment, there is still a lot to be done. All of the objects and works of art have already arrived in Berlin. For example, the smallest item (14.5 x 11 cm), which is roughly the size of a post-it. On this piece of paper, Gershom Scholem (1897–1982), the scholar of Jewish mysticism, noted the beginning of the so-called “Golem Recipe,” which he had discovered in a medieval manuscript during his research at Oxford.  continue reading

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