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On the beach in Alexandria, Egypt (Credit: Farah Khalaf)

On the beach in Alexandria, Egypt (Credit: Farah Khalaf)

Watching the sun’s last rays glisten on the waves of the Mediterranean as its burning flame anticipates being quenched by the Sea’s cool water, I listen to Yasmine Hamdan’s raspy Lebanese dialect as she sings of Sehnsucht and heartache (watch video here) . Whether it’s a blessing or a curse, these are things I have long since experienced.

As the tip of a bottle teases my lips and the icy drink fools around with my tongue and taste buds, I catch myself subconsciously trying to translate the song’s words and expressions into a language he would understand. Maybe I’ll have him listen to it one day. But its artistic and musical value wouldn’t be enough: he would want to understand the driving force behind the creation of this beauty.

The translation was a simple matter of finding the correct vocabulary, but that wasn’t what I was listening for. The soul of the song dimmed with the setting of the sun. The more I tried to find ways to convey it in his tongue, the more the song’s flame and passion became frail and shadow-like, until eventually the melody seemed only a ghost of what it was before I tried to capture it.

The song was lost and I brushed it off. Suddenly, I missed how he makes me feel like the goddess of that glistening golden sun embracing the Mediterranean. I remember this lurking uneasiness I had in the back of my head. A fear of loss. Loss of oneself, loss of language and identity in the process of merging cultures. But I’m starting to see now the malleability of one’s identity and how it’s constantly simply getting richer with the fusion of others’; it is all-consuming, like a sponge, or like the sea.

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►Monday: Olympia 

olymp

Belgian artist David Claerbout’s multi-layered installation work reflects on time and its dimensions. Through video installations, historical photographs, reconstructed images and film footages, this exhibition traces the disintegration of the Berlin Olympic Stadium over a thousand years. While making the flow of time of a whole century become almost tangible to the audience, the exhibition also illuminates the ‘Thousand-Year Reich’ and Albert Speer’s architectural ideas and theories.

  • When: 12:00-18:00
  • Where: KINDL – Am Sudhaus 2, 12053 Berlin
  • Admission: free
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feminist

Are you a feminist? In my opinion, this question is very difficult. The reason for this difficulty is somewhat simple: I don’t speak the ‘language of feminism’. I have noticed that if I say I am a feminist – or even when it is somehow naturally assumed by others given that I am an «aware» and educated woman, as long as I belong to the crowd of cosmopolitan college students learning to become critical – I am expected to know how to speak feminism. I should know what word to use in which context. What I can say and what I should not. Political correctness, I agree, is perhaps recommended in some social settings. Language policing appears sometimes to be a duty in certain contexts. And feminism sounds like a good idea. But when I read that we need to use the «F*» word meaning feminism, I get confused. Or when one says «I hate the word feminism» or «I am an anti-feminist» woman, I hesitate how to react for a minute or two. Why is «No, I’m not a feminist» such a horrific answer? Without the knowledge and in lack of the “proper” words, I hesitate to identify with the « ism » of feminism. 

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View of the Wunderkammer Olbricht

Photo by: Joachim Fliegner

ME Collector’s Room, located in the gallery–packed Auguststrasse, offers what might be the closest experience to a Renaissance Wunderkammer (‘cabinet of curiosities’). The Olbricht Collection, which features works from the Renaissance up to the present day, has had its permanent home here in Berlin since May 2010.

For the collectors of the Renaissance era, their collections were not only a product of their desires and interests, but also fundamental reflections of their own self. Collecting was a way of constituting and preserving one’s image, since the collectors of the time were obsessed with questions of identity. Their collections, which were consequently considerably personal, consisted of objects that also represented the knowledge of the time. Thus, these objects simultaneously had both a collective value, which held an important role in the construction of a body of knowledge, and a personal value, which constituted the collector’s own identity.

These collections, which date back to the Renaissance, were divided in sections and were preserved according to certain areas of interest, such as: precious artworks (artificialia), rare phenomena of nature (naturalia), scientific instruments (scientifica), objects from strange worlds (exotica), and inexplicable items (mirabilia). This same taxonomy is applied in ME Collector’s Room as well: once inside the collection, one sees how this specific classification is the principle by which the collection abides and brings its objects in conversation.

The theme that permeates the collection is that of death, or better yet––that of memento mori, the reminder that one will die. The reference to death seems to serve as platform to morality. In the vitrines of the collection, which display objects of religious significance, there is always a skull or a skeleton in black cloak that whispers

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Andy Warhol

Berlin will always be calling, with its streets, shops, parks, bars, clubs, faces, museums, galleries, cinemas, squats, walls and under-or-above ground events. The newest inhabitants of Pankow are constantly feeling the pull of this siren´s song. As their activities in class intensify, they value every spare moment that allows them to plunge into the pulsating heart of the city. However, when the school sends you exploring, the fascination turns into a quest.

From 1 October 2008 until 1 March 2009, National Museums in Berlin have organized their exhibitions around the generous theme of “Cult of the Artist”. This is designed with the character of each institution in mind and intended to visit the theme from various parts of the past to the present. We started with the “ending”, at the contemporary art museum Hamburger Bahnhof. The visit was an Installation Class assignment, but included other interested students as well.

The direction pursued by Hamburger Bahnhof is “Deconstructing the Myth of the Artist”. Works of various media from the second half of the 20th century onwards were on display, taken from the vast Friedrich Christian Flick Collection. This immense body of artwork (around 2,000 works by ca. 150 artists) is being stored and presented by the museum throughout 2004-2011. Under the humorous title “I can’t just slice off an ear everyday”, a quote from the controversial artist Martin Kippenberger, the exhibition includes pioneers like Duchamps, Brecht, and the Fluxus movement, but also more newer, yet important names like Marcel Broodthaers, Bruce Nauman, Rodney Graham, Maria Eichhorn, Ugo Rondinione, Dan Graham, Sarah Lucas, Martin Kippenberger, Andrea Fraser, and others. It presents them in a variegated discourse about the role of the artist in modern times and aims poisonous critique at celebrated concepts such as art, art institution, artist, prodigy, genius, and taps into the gender-loaded connotations of being a creator. The entire show could also be a statement about being a curator and how much freedom a post-modern theme can offer.

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