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Daniel Schönpflug

Interview and Photo from the Frédéric Brenner – ZERHEILT: HEALED TO PIECES Exhibition Opening

A man in a suit and bow tie stands smiling in an exhibition in front of a portrait of himself on the wall with his eyes closed and his hands resting at his sides

Daniel Schönpflug in the exhibition ZERHEILT: HEALED TO PIECES; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jule Roehr

My name is Daniel Schönpflug. I’m a historian and work at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Berlin Institute for Advanced Study).

Where did the idea for your portrait’s staging and setting come from?

Frédéric Brenner must have been inspired by the institute and the Villa Walther in particular because he also took the legendary portrait of Carey Harrison there. During my shoot, Frédéric asked me to forget about not just the camera, but my surroundings. At some point my eyes closed and I sank into myself. It was a special moment that he captured with his camera.

How do you experience Jewish life in Berlin?

I am not Jewish in the narrower sense. For me, the Jewish Museum has long been one of the places where I can delve into the complexity of my family history and contemplate what it means for me. It is good to know that the archive of my ancestors is being preserved here.

Describe your life in Berlin in three adjectives.

Free, hungry, contradictory.

What would your wish be for the future of Jewish life in Berlin?

There are two trends I’m observing with great concern: the growing threat confronting Jewish life in Berlin, but also the deepening rifts within the Jewish community. How can these spirals be stopped? I don’t have a prescription, but maybe it would help if people closed their eyes every now and then. It could be a start. The moment before talking with (not about) each other.

A man in a light blue shirt and dark blue suit stands in half-profile in front of a window pane in which trees are reflected, his eyes are closed, his hands are at his sides, a smile plays around his mouth.

From the photographic essay ZERHEILT: HEALED TO PIECES by Frédéric Brenner; Jewish Museum Berlin, purchased with the support of the Friends of the Jewish Museum Berlin

Citation recommendation:

Jewish Museum Berlin (2021), Daniel Schönpflug. Interview and Photo from the Frédéric Brenner – ZERHEILT: HEALED TO PIECES Exhibition Opening.

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