Art and Sanctuary: An Encounter Project in the Blue Room

Empty easles in front of a deep blue wall

The Blue Room – things remain exciting! Photo: Barbara Rösch

A boat made of wood and painted canvas strips, a yodeling flamingo, a photograph of turquoise tiles from a Berlin subway station, two cake replicas, metamorphosed Ugaritic letters, a fisherman, a play. What do they all have to do with each other? They are all going to be exhibited at the Jewish Museum Berlin this summer.

And what do a car-body painter, well known in his native Iraq, an architect from Syria, a young Egyptian chef, a painter from the former Soviet Union, a Greek doctoral student, and a social worker from right here in Berlin have in common? They will all be exhibiting at the Jewish Museum Berlin this summer.

On July 12 a group exhibition entitled The Blue Room opens. It will be the high point of a meeting project that I have been supervising since January.  continue reading


“Faith isn’t something you can see from the outside.”

A Visit with Sister Katharina at Karmel Berlin

Transparent bust wearing a black veil.

Sister Katharina donated this veil to us for our exhibition; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Katharina Erbe.

Covering one’s head has almost entirely disappeared from Christian women’s devotional practice. In Germany, you only actually see veils on the sisters of Catholic religious orders. In preparing for the exhibition Cherchez la femme (more about it on our website) we all agreed early on that we wanted a nun’s veil.

So I set out for Karmel Regina Martyrum in the northern part of Berlin’s Charlottenburg district, a convent of Discalced (or Barefoot) Carmelites. The convent’s wardrobe mistress, Sister Katharina, greeted me at the door. After some discussion, her view on the matter emerged as fairly sober: some people may ascribe specific spiritual meaning to certain items of clothing but it was very personal issue. In any one community you can meet with a wide variety of attitudes and practices.

Our conversation about the meaning of their religious dress began with Sister Katharina sharing an anecdote:  continue reading


Horror and Magic in the Silent Golem Movies

Scene: the golem looks at a half-lying dancer

In the light comedy The Golem and the Dancing Girl from 1917, Paul Wegener satirizes his own 1915 film The Golem; photo: Deutsches Filminstitut, Frankfurt a. M./estate Paul Wegener – collection Kai Möller

In January of 1915 the figure of a golem appeared for the first time on the silver screen, on Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm. The public was captivated by a truly modern monster. At the same time, southeast of the Belgian city of Ypres battles of the First World War were raging. Following on the heels of this first silent golem movie came two more in 1917 and 1920, also debuting in Berlin. The lead role of the golem was played in all of them by Paul Wegener, who had also come up with the idea for the projects and written the screenplays.

In the current exhibition GOLEM (more on www.jmberlin.de/en/golem), a theme room has been dedicated to these three silent movies.  continue reading