Energy galore: encountering Howard Katz

It always goes by so quickly: it feels as if the third round just started, of the art vending machine in the Jewish Museum Berlin’s permanent exhibition. But in fact it’s almost finished and sold out – 2,600 items since April! That’s certainly enough reason to pop by to visit Howard Katz and ask him some questions, especially considering that he was the first of the now 22 artists we’ve featured to use music…

Portrait of a man with guitar

Howard Katz © Yoann Trillu

Dagmar Ganßloser: Howard, you work as an artist in many different genres. You’re a dancer, performer, and choreographer, but you’re also an active visual artist, and on top of that a singer-songwriter. Right now the art vending machine has your “Mix Tape” as well as “4 short films”. How did you choose those?

Howard Katz: It was clear to me from the start that I wanted to present my music in the art vending machine. The 17 songs on “Mix Tape” came into being over the last twenty years plus and – the same as “4 short films” – they’re mainly about experiences I’ve had since I’ve lived in Berlin, so since the mid-1990s. The production was uncomplicated and I made the selection intuitively, from the heart. I made the four videos for my songs completely on my own, with my telephone – it was an opportunity to try out something new.  continue reading


New arrivals: artwork for the vending machine

The last few weeks have been full of hectic hustle and bustle, with boxes being passed from hand to hand, examined, unpacked, and sorted through. Such a variety of objects emerged from their cases and seemed to be disseminating in every direction through the museum.

Cards with blue printings

© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Gelia Eisert

Blue prints were spread out over a long, dark red sheet. Words seemed to glow in them – was it “tekhelet” or “argaman” or both? And what do they mean anyway?

"Magic" Card on a table in the kitchenette

© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Gelia Eisert

 

A “magic” card appeared in a kitchenette. Suddenly everything was kosher: the sink, the refrigerator, the dishes, the whole kitchen. The artist promised it would be, and thus it happened.  continue reading


Ich glaub’ nie mehr an eine Frau (Never Trust A Woman)—The Sound for the Film

There are films slumbering in an archive somewhere, waiting to be discovered. And there are films that have sunk into oblivion but then suddenly pop up again, in the form of a soundtrack.

packages of schellac records

The schellac records, as found © Jewish Museum Berlin, Photo: Regina Wellen

Recently, when stock was being moved to another depot, our colleague Regina Wellen looked over the collection of 78rpm schellac records with a view to devising a new way of storing them. She thereby came across eleven not yet inventoried records, much larger than the usual sort and with a label suggestive of some other purpose than easy listening on the home gramophone. Luckily for us, Regina was quickly able to establish that these were examples of the sound-on-disc recordings played in cinemas as an accompaniment to screenings of otherwise silent films—synchronously, thanks to the built-in start signal. One of the twenty numbered boxes on each label used to be checked after each screening, so as to ensure that a worn-out record would be replaced in good time. After Regina had dry-cleaned the records and prepared  continue reading