Die Bärliner - The Bard College Berlin Student Blog
Tag "Excursions"
on the Bard College Berlin Student Blog

Photo: Irina Stelea

I had heard much of Daniel Liebeskind’s deconstructive architecture of Berlin’s Jewish Museum before visiting, so was therefore surprised by the presence of a romance-style building at the museum’s location.My visit was shared by a collective of ECLA students and guided by faculty art historian Professor Aya Soika and winter term guest professor Dr. Irit Dekel.

I quickly learned that this romantic building, named the Kollegienhaus, is a structure historically significant to Berlin’s history, built over one hundred and fifty years before the side of the museum designed by Liebeskind was constructed.

The architectural contrasts between these two buildings are numerous. The Kollegienhaus houses the main entrance and is immediately viewable from the outside, while much of Liebeskind’s structure is covered from street view by trees.

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Photo: Irina Stelea

Every expat has felt this: living in a country, the language of which you don’t know, can be extremely challenging. The feeling that one gets is of concomitantly being absent and present, living discreetly (and frequenting international events and places).

Of course, as students of ECLA (and probably every second one of us, if not more, was or is in this situation), we feel sheltered in the secluded Pankow, where the campus is situated. Here, the coordinates are known by heart, the employees of the supermarkets recognize our faces, and sometimes a touristy smile can replace a German phrase.

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Schwules Museum

Schwules Museum

On March 11th, a sunny Sunday afternoon, the participants in the course An Intellectual History of Feminist Thought went on an excursion to the Schwules Museum: Berlin’s unique museum depicting gay life. As it was made part of our yearly Berlin programme, other ECLA students were also given the opportunity to sign up and join Ryan Plumley and his students for a tour.

Founded in 1987, this—literally—Gay Museum (given that the term “schwules” in its name is indeed used as an adjective) contains a permanent exhibition focused on the history of mainly male homosexuals in Berlin, beginning in the late eighteenth century.

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Gerhard Richter, Lesende, 1994 | © Gerhard Richter, 2012

On March 1st, a group of ECLA students, faculty and staff made their way to the Neue Nationalgalerie amidst long queues of eager spectators, where an exhibit of works by famous German artist Gerhard Richter was being held.

The visit was part of ECLA’s Berlin Programme where members of the college pay visits to the city’s museums and theatres to experience its rich cultural history.

Gerhard Richter was born in 1932 and started working in the 50s. In 1959, he took his first trip to Documenta, an art event held in Kassel every 5 years. This initiated changes to his career which resulted in his creation of Table, which he defines as the first work in his catalogue raisonné.

His paintings are displayed in chronological order around the perimeter of the museum, while his colorful mosaics line the outer facade, taking advantage of the building’s glass walls to make them visible from outside the museum. His sculptures punctuate the large interior space, making it more interactive for spectators.

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©Monika Rittershaus

As part of the Forms of Love core course, on February 26th students and professors attended a showing of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Staatsoper Berlin at Schiller Theatre.

In conjunction with this, Professor Geoff Lehman organized a preparatory discussion on the piece’s creative use of music to illuminate the narrative. The Marriage of Figaro, subtitled ossia la folle giornata or The Day of Madness, was composed in 1786.

It was the first union of Mozart’s music with Lorenzo Da Ponta’s libretto, a collaboration that would occur again with Don Giovani and Cosi fan tutte. ECLA’s attendance to this production complemented the students’ visit to Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Rossini at the beginning of the fall term, also at the Staatsoper Berlin. That Rossini opera was based on the original Figaro play of French satirist Pierre Beaumarchais.

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Photo: Irina Stelea

As a culmination of the autumn term’s art history elective on Representation a group of ECLA students visited the Hoffmann private collection of contemporary art on December 3, 2011.

The gallery, owned by Erika and Rolf Hoffmann, occupies two floors of an apartment building located at Sophienstraße near Hackescher Markt.

Walking to the gallery is an experience itself, as Sophienstraße is lined with cozy cafés and little curiosity shops, amusing diversions on the way to Sophie-Gips-Höfe, the entrance of which faces an early eighteenth-century century Baroque church, Sophienkirche. The courtyard of Sophie-Gips-Höfe opens onto a refurbished old factory building with brick exteriors, a home to artworks produced in recent decades.

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Katsushika Hokusai

On October 28th, a group of ECLA students got the chance to visit the temporary exhibition of works by the famous Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai at Martin-Gropius-Bau.

On display were 440 works out of his oeuvre of 30,000 which were produced over a period of 70 years. His prolific career seemed to be matched by the number of visitors to the exhibit, and everyone, both young and old, showed that they were fascinated by the display.

Hokusai was an artist of Japan’s Edo Period. At the time, Japan was isolated on the global stage, having expelled many trading enterprises from the West, maintaining connections only with Chinese and Dutch traders. The Shogunate maintained control of the country, causing monarchical rule to become purely symbolic.

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Picture: Irina Stelea

Every autumn term, after the first three palpitating weeks, the ECLA community departs on an annual excursion.

And since beginnings are about exploration and searching, every year the autumn trip has a different destination, revealing the sometimes hidden marvels of Germany, bit by bit, town by town. On October 21st, students, along with the members of the faculty and administration, departed on a journey to Görlitz, the easternmost town in Germany.

I won’t hide the slight uneasiness in my heart that I shared with my colleagues as we were leaving, since always before going on an excursion one thinks of the possible ‘rupture’ in the rhythm of academic life.

But I will also say, though with anticipation, that with every excursion I feel more and more convinced that not only is it possible to harmonize the two activities of work and pleasure, but that the ‘escapade’ may become a catalyst for academic work.

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