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…
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
A self-portrait shot by Ilse Bing on her first trip to New York in 1936 has been imprinted on my mind’s eye for a very long time. The image was up for sale only twice in the last twenty years. On the first occasion, in 2009, a vintage print went at auction for the princely sum of 25,000.00 EUR. Given its rarity and great market value, I imagined at the time that the enchanting image was unlikely ever to become a part of our collection. For me, it came to be the very epitome of wishful thinking.
Ilse Bing, “New York—The Elevated and Me,” print from 1988 of the original negative from 1936. Jewish Museum Berlin © Estate of Ilse Bing
The photograph depicts a station on the Elevated (subway line) in New York and the reflection in a small round mirror of the photographer with her Leica. The title “New York—The Elevated and Me” underscores the hybridity here of cityscape and self-portrait.
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Pessach is approaching – the festival of exodus and freedom. This year, there is less talk of having the festive meal at large community gatherings. It is obvious, although unspoken, that smaller gatherings in the home make more sense. We are becoming alienated from our community centers through fear. Keep a low profile. Don’t speak Hebrew on the streets. Some people are removing the mezuzah from their front doorposts, a traditional object that visibly identifies a Jewish household. There is a mood of caution and nervous apprehension.
How did it get to this point?
Advertisement with Imam Ferid Heider and Rabbi Daniel Alter for the “Cycling Unites”-Critical-Mass-Tour in Berlin on 22 March 2015, photo: Michal Friedlander
A drunken man rolls slowly off the train platform and plops onto the tracks at Friedrichstrasse station. Around sixty people witness the moment and look away, hoping that someone else will solve the stinky, awkward problem. And so it was. An Italian and an Israeli jumped down to haul the semi-conscious man to safety. The passengers walked around the startled little group, pressing forward to make the oncoming train.
Dinner party small talk. The discussions nearest me are taking a more political turn and I am just not in the mood to talk about Israel. Too late. The young man next to me asks if I saw the recent pro-Palestinian demonstration on the Kurfürstendamm? He becomes very still and lowers his voice. → continue reading