Timber houses in the form of the Hebrew
© The Beit Project, photo: David Gauffin
Beit is the name of a European project thought up by David Stoleru, a Jewish architect from France. The name refers to the Hebrew word for house “Bajit” as well as to the letter “Bet” of the Hebrew alphabet. Stoleru has designed small timber houses that are somewhat reminiscent of the cozy beach basket chairs common on Germany’s Baltic coast. Seen from the side, they resemble the symbol ב for Bet, the first letter of the word beit. Several classes of eighth-graders set up such houses in the Heckmann Höfe in the Mitte district of Berlin, as a means to temporarily bring into the public sphere their nearby school, whose Hebrew name, Beit Sefer, literally means “House of the Book.” Here, for two days, they devoted themselves to the task of uncovering traces of the Jewish community in the local cultural and urban heritage.
It proved to be a strenuous two days’ work, during which the schoolchildren were almost constantly on the go and often had to push themselves to their limits. Continue reading
During the week of 21 to 27 October 2013, the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin, in cooperation with Kulturkind e.V., will host readings, workshops, and an open day for the public with the theme “Multifaceted: a book week on diversity in children’s and young adult literature.” Employees of various departments have been vigorously reading, discussing, and preparing a selection of books for the occasion. Some of these books have already been introduced here over the course of the last weeks.
Unlike German literature for young adults, the range of children’s books on the subject of diversity is still marginal. Usually books about diversity are transposed to the animal kingdom, or they depict ‘alien’ cultures by having foreign children invite their German school friends to an ethnic celebration. The Jewish Passover holiday, the Muslim Eid-al-Fitr, or, alternatively, the Chinese New Year, are described with one and the same formula: mom prepares the celebratory meal, dad explains the origins of the holiday, and the kids watch the central rites until they have to go to bed. Most of these books have no real plot.
Ingke Brodersen chose a different approach: she tells her story from the perspective of a little boy named Sascha, who emigrated from Russia to Berlin. Continue reading
This is what the vending machine looked like originally.
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Gelia Eisert
Usually a museum is a place where you can contemplate art from a safe distance. Today, with the mounting of our Art Vending Machine in our permanent exhibition, that will change: now you can put 4 euros in the coin slot, and own a piece of art from the museum!
If you’re imagining a high-tech machine that produces art, when you read the words “Art Vending Machine,” or something like a soda machine, where you can pick and choose from a selection, you’re on the wrong track. Our Art Vending Machine has a supply of small-scale artworks that were created by artists especially for it.
Since a device of this kind isn’t commercially available, I bid online for an old vending machine from the 1970s. I found one in a sports center in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany and had it transported to us from there.
After its modification, the vending machine should look like this.
© Design: Hanno Dannenfeldt
Following the machine’s arrival, the graphic designer Hanno Dannenfeldt worked on a concept for reconfiguring it, since it’s meant to be not only a container for artworks tucked into all the little shelves, but itself part of the exhibition. The design, called “Hanging,” dresses the automat in a simple white coat of paint with an eye-catching black inscription. It’s strung up on the wall with pink slackline cables.
The next steps of this procedure raised some unusual questions for me as a museum employee: Continue reading