“When civilization goes wrong, there is blood:” A brief exchange with Peter Greenaway

The exhibition “Obedience: An Art Installation in 15 Rooms by Saskia Boddeke & Peter Greenaway” is about to open. It reflects on the biblical story of Abraham, a forefather willing to sacrifice his son in compliance at God’s command.The installation is still being set up when the catalog arrives, hot off the press. It comprises an art book designed by Peter Greenaway as well as a compilation of essays. The artist and filmmaker took a break from the hectic pre-opening preparations to talk with Mirjam Wenzel about the meaning of the biblical story, and the notion of text, image and blood.

Mirjam Wenzel: The biblical story in the Book of Genesis 22 holds an awkward place in Jewish memory and has given rise over the centuries to many theological debates and artistic interpretations. We had been considering doing an exhibition about this story and its reception for a very long time. What did you think when we approached you with the idea of creating this exhibition? How do you perceive this biblical story?  

Peter Greenaway: I think that when making an exhibition it is as important to attend to form and language as to content. The content is always maneuverable, adjustable, and ever subjective. This story consists of very many meanings,  continue reading


Israelis in Berlin: between the hype and the reality

More and more young Israelis are moving to Berlin, bustling between Berghain and meshuggah parties, Neukölln and Prenzlauer Berg. The media can’t stop talking about them, but the vogue isn’t only due to the 50-years of diplomatic ties between Germany and Israel. There are in fact not a few young people moving to the German capital with innovative ideas and youthful brio, dabbling in the start-up or art scenes, running cafes, organizing parties.

 

color photograph of the skyline of Berlin

Berlin’s skyline with a view of the Jewish Museum © Michele Nastasi

 

So what does that life really look like?
Last year I met Noga at a Berlin gallery and we quickly started talking about family, Berlin, and Israel. In September of 2010, Noga and her husband Zeevi moved to Berlin with just two suitcases – not to enjoy the party scene here for awhile, but to stay. I met with both of them to talk about their life in Berlin.

Jihan Radjai: Why did you decide to move to Berlin?  continue reading


A “kosher gnome” and everything’s ok? A conversation with Anna Adam

Woman leaning on a jamb

Anna Adam, “Pastoral care for a German-Polish border post”, March 2015 © Jalda Rebling

It’s not easy to find the way there. Good thing that the artist picked me up at the nearest subway station in Berlin’s Wedding district. Together we cross the courtyards of various businesses, pass a halal diner, climb a staircase, and suddenly we’re standing in front of the door of her atelier. Hardly has Anna opened it when I see the “kosher gnome”, observing the world through his binoculars.

It’s this figure that the artist reproduced in paper cut-out form on a card for our art vending machine: you cut the card and fold it to create a three-dimensional object. The instructions state that you should set him in your kitchen and then everything will be ok.

Atelier Door with "Kosher Gnome"

Atelier Door with “Kosher Gnome” © Jewish Museum Berlin, Photography: Gelia Eisert

Anna, what does the odd name “kosher gnome” mean? How do “kosher” and “gnome” even fit together? How will everything be ok? I’m confused.

At home, a wichtel (in the original German) is an important little man. There are a lot of these “important men”. My “kosher gnome” was born in 2002. He’s definitely supposed to be confusing. “Kosher” and “gnome” fit together because I committed myself to the task of “healing the German-Jewish sickness”, as I call it. To that end I work with satirical means, which – unlike comedy – take everyday politics as a starting point.

You mentioned the year it was born. What were the circumstances of the “kosher gnome”‘s birth?  continue reading