Boris Lurie – Trying Out an Approach for High School Students

Nina Wilkens in front of her computer screen

Nina Wilkens contemplating the collage “Found objects on flat cardboard box” on her computer screen; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Svenja Kutscher

Five black and white photographs of a scantily-clad woman, legs spread open, in various suggestive poses. The pictures smudged and stuck askew onto white cardboard. On top, a Star of David partly smeared with yellow paint.  A brown dildo is fastened next to the cardboard. This constellation of things looks at first glance like useless trash. Objects left on the ground, covered with their share of grime, and now lying here piled on top of one another. This work by Boris Lurie from our current exhibition “No Compromises! The Art of Boris Lurie” (further information about the exhibition on our website) has no name and its date is ambiguous.

When I started thinking, around a year ago, about a pedagogical program on Boris Lurie, I got stuck on this picture as I sat at my computer clicking through images of the works that were being considered for the exhibit. I was confused by my own reaction to this collage of two- and three-dimensional objects: vacillating between disgust and uncertainty. I had the words “obscene” and “tasteless” on the tip of my tongue but found them unsuitable. The image hurt. I wondered how students would react to Boris Lurie’s art.  continue reading


An Unsolvable Mystery?

A Photo Collection Found Hiding in Berlin-Friedrichshain

Black and white photograph of a girl standing in front of a door

A girl standing in front of a door, presumably Berlin, about 1918–1922; Jewish Museum Berlin

Every time I open a new folder of photos, I can’t know what’s waiting for me – what faces I’ll find or fates will be revealed. Images are often part of a larger collection, consisting of documents, everyday articles and artwork, for which we already know the biographies of those pictured or can further research. Such was the case, for example, of the cabaret artist, Olga Irén Fröhlich, whom I’ve written about before on this blog. This time, however, the people in the photographs will remain unknown to me; I won’t be able to attach names or histories to them. Perhaps you can!

It’s not out of the ordinary to work with collections that have been in the Museum’s possession for decades.  continue reading


In the Shadow of the Mengele Myth

Photo Portraits by Noga Shtainer

Portrait of Noga Shtainer

Noga Shtainer during an artist talk celebrating her show in Berlin in 2015 © Noga Shtainer

Noga Shtainer often travels with her camera in tow, for her photography project “Home for Special Children” in the Ukraine, for instance, or for “Twins” in Brazil. Shots from the latter project have been available for purchase from the art vending machine since 1 April 2016 (further information on our website). The photographer has lived since 2010 in Berlin, where I met her two years ago (I wrote about that encounter in a blog post in May of 2015).

The fact that Noga Shtainer is a photographer is itself accidental. She set out to become an actress. But she didn’t pass the entrance auditions for the WIZO School of Art in Haifa and was encouraged instead to apply for a photography class. The deadline for submitting an application portfolio was only two days away, however.  continue reading