Die Bärliner - The Bard College Berlin Student Blog
Dance workshop with Eva Burghardt. Photo: Inasa Bibic

Dance workshop with Eva Burghardt. Photo: Inasa Bibic

Dancer and choreographer Eva Burghardt gave an intensive dance workshop on campus the weekend of 25th-26th of April. Body Space Landscape was a «movement-based» workshop which mainly aimed at exploring all three categories through questioning the conservative understanding of dance as an artistic medium for certain types of corporeal expression. After two days of thinking bodies in movement, whether in the space of the studio or the architecture of a factory, or the topography of a park, I am still stupefied (almost ashamedly) by what I have considered to be a qualitatively different philosophical experience. Never before have I seen dance and philosophy — two distinct modalities of experiencing the world (as I previously thought) — converge in such a spontaneous and highly effective fashion. How does one think movement? I am convinced that both dance and philosophy (and here, dance will be privileged) are helpful in (beginning to) answering this question.

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Last weekend, members of the junior core course Berlin: Experiment in Modernity, and City for Citizens, took a trip to the historic town of Weimar. Though Weimar was small enough to wander and easily find our way back to the hostel, it was rich with more than 15 museums, with special attention paid to former residents Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. The trip was packed with tours and paid-for meals, but there was plenty of room to eat ice cream and be playful on top of that.

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Students on a guided tour of the Bauhaus University, where Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus movement in 1919. The buildings on campus were specially constructed to maximize the potential of student-art; indirect light sprinkles into the classrooms of painters, as direct light fills the classrooms of sculptors to promote more dynamic pieces. 

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On April 17-18, St. Petersburg, Russia, gathered over eighty students and young scholars from Bard-affiliated institutions for a two-day assembly across disciplines. With “Science and Technology through the Prism of Humanities”  as its “umbrella topic”, the Fourth Smolny Annual International Student Conference was held at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of the St. Petersburg State University.

Bard College Berlin was represented by Lysan Boshuyzen (BA2, the Netherlands) with the paper “Art Generating Paradigm Shift,” Dylan Davis (BA3, USA) with “Beyond Hate: Exploring the Relationship between Hate and Equality,” Lena Kück (BA1, Germany) who presented on “Focus in Fractions – The Effect of New Technology on our Ability to Focus in Social Environments,” and myself with the paper “The Relationship between Scientific Knowledge and Political and Religious Power in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis.

After our altogether successful presentations and Q&As, we were lucky and organized enough to spend our free time traversing and wandering through the city’s grandiose boulevards, seductive avenues, and historical squares. St. Petersburg is a living architectural miracle – even mere walking feels like a visit to an open air museum. With sunset light accentuating the features of some of its most popular buildings, afternoon chats among young couples, early spring strawberries, birds on the Neva river, and some random wonders that new travelers always find a way to stumble upon, we had a kaleidoscopic experience of the city that sparked a curiosity which, in my judgment, one could never fully satisfy in a place so rich with history and culture, still in the process of building the bridge between the old and the modern. Below are few impressions from St. Petersburg, the iconic wonder of Russian aesthetics – the elegant dame of the Baltic Sea:

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John von Bergen with students at a Sculpture class workshop. Photo: Inasa Bibic

John von Bergen with students at a Sculpture class workshop. Photo: Inasa Bibic

Upon walking into John Von Bergen’s sculpture class for the first time, an immediate, and almost palpable vibration can be felt. Students are busy  working, organizing, building, molding, even their research carries an air of urgent excitement.

I was looking forward to my visit to the sculpture class. One visit turned to three, as I became increasingly enamored with the sculpture class, and the busy, productive air of the Factory.

This class is special for many reasons, for one, it is one of the few practicing art classes offered at BCB, where students are encouraged to break the mold of traditional intellectualism and begin to construct and illustrate their ideas through physical means. It is also a free space for students to learn, try risky methods, and expand their definitions of art and creation, all with John’s encouragement and guidance.

Yet, perhaps what is most interesting about this class is its relationship to the Factory. The idea of site-specific sculpture is a common one. An artist designs her sculpture to fit the environment it will be displayed in, specifically playing with the setting to create the desired effect. After spending some time observing this class, I would propose that, much in the same reign as site-specific sculpture, this is a site-specific class.

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Photo by Howard Hall.

Photo by Howard Hall.

I have been thinking a lot about lists. And I have been thinking a lot about reasons. What inspires us to make the choices we make? Many weeks ago I started compiling lists of lines of poetry, not full poems themselves, but simply lists of one line each that one-day could belong to a poem. And I started to think: all my lists of lines had themes, had reasons behind them, reflected how I was feeling. It was impossible to separate the list from myself, and thus the lists became reflections of myself in the moment of their creation. With this realization I found I could experiment in making a multi-dimensional self. One that wasn’t me, and actually wasn’t anyone, but was made out of the lists of as many people as I could convince to give me their words, and by combining them I could create some sort of universal, shared, yet nonexistent person. 

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As I am sure you know, or have experienced, people like to do things. They like to go places and do things, sometimes these things are particular to the place— sometimes they are not. Usually the hardest step in this is getting to the place they want to go. In this I have found Berlin’s public transportation to be a boon. The question “can we get there?” has been replaced by “how will we get there?”

From my home in Pankow, virtually all of Berlin is accessible. Just a hop on the M1 tram, and any place I’ve wanted to go is no more than two transfers away. It has enabled me to visit many new places and diversify my activities with friends; more variety in restaurants, bars, clubs, parks, and museums (I highly suggest The Egyptian Museum of Berlin on Museum Island). Never have I felt like I needed to revisit the same place out of convenience instead of want. Back in my home of Los Angeles, the lack of public transportation defines your world. The places you go for a night out with friends are inherently limited by the fact that you have to drive everywhere, and places outside of a certain radius might as well be in another country. This can cause two people living in LA to have completely different personal landmarks, like they are living in two totally different cities. But in Berlin I can strike up a conversation with a peer and talk about our experiences at Cafe Cinema or what our favorite exhibit was at the German Historical Museum without ever having gone there with them.

This sense of community and connectivity would not be possible without the amazing infrastructure of trams, buses, and subways that make up the Berlin public transportation system. But the system is not without its problems.

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View of a medieval look out in Sion, Switzerland. Photo by the author

View of a medieval look out in Sion, Switzerland. Photo by the author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. I have never before been calm at the airport. Airport is synonymous with rush, chaos, discomfort. I believe it is distinctly a quality of the European continent to casually fly. I forget countries can be so petite, no one checked my passport.

2. Geneva wears a suit.

3. The lesbian bar is a candlelit library, everyone whispers and eats peanut flavored chips. I suspect there are more men here than women. I nod and pretend I understand what they are saying to me.

4. Notes on The Lake:

  • Same color as the sky. If the jet wasn’t there you might not be able to tell the difference. I am certain I could walk on the surface.
  • I never before thought about the way water falls. The jet is a waterfall without the backdrop. I spend a lot of time counting rainbows in the water spray.
  • My favorite part about the lookout spot in Geneva is the people taking pictures in front of the jet. Tourists with big backpacks, so happy to stand in front of an enormous gray lake.
  • I want to take pictures with them; maybe we could make it into a family portrait of travelers.
  • More notes on the lake later.

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The Student Action & Youth Leadership Conference in Istanbul, Turkey brought together people from all over the world to the only city in the world that stretches on two continents – Europe and Asia. Although the busy schedule at the conference left us with little time to go out and explore the city, I had firmly decided to take advantage of our last day there, as well as the guided tour, to bring some snippets of Istanbul back to Berlin. Without further ado, here are some glimpses of Istanbul in one day, March 18:

Eye-shaped amulets in Turkey (better known as “nazar”) are believed to protect against “the evil eye” (ill intentions). They can be found everywhere – at bazaars, local gift shops, people’s homes… It would be almost heretic to leave Turkey without purchasing one. Beware though: the amulet only works its magical properties if given to you as a present! Photo: Inasa Bibic

Eye-shaped amulets in Turkey (better known as “nazar”) are believed to protect against “the evil eye” (ill intentions). They can be found everywhere – at bazaars, local gift shops, people’s homes… It would be almost heretic to leave Turkey without purchasing one. Beware though: the amulet only works its magical properties if given to you as a present! (Photo: Inasa Bibic)

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