Entries in germany (32)


Ich War Ein Berliner Für Drei Tage

Berlin is redeemed.

The first visit I had to Berlin in April of this year (2008), wasn't very good (if you're real curious, look in April 2008 of this blog). It wasn't that I didn't enjoy it, I just didn't "get it".

Berlin is one of those cities that you have to know to enjoy it. I would say it's analogous to wine, it gets better with time. I'm not saying that three days in Berlin gave me the knowledge I needed to enjoy Berlin, I'm saying you can "piggy back" on friends that know the city, and that's what I did.

Jessica and Steven (hosts of the workshop), showed us around the cool, artsy areas of Berlin. And yes, some of them looked like they were hit with an "art bomb" (thanks to Mike Doughty). We visited Kreuzberg, Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and of course, Wedding (where the studio was and our apartment was). These are small (not really small in size, but concept) villages within Berlin. They are distinct in culture, and flavor too. We had dinner at places varied as Indian-Thai, Lebanese, and Italian. Art and "the other" all around us, all of the time.

Berlin Synagogue We were walking down Oranienburger Str. and I look up and see these huge ornate gold balls/domes. I immediately recognize it as the New Synagogue. It's really huge and really beautiful. The Synagogue was burned during Kristallnacht (November 9, 1938) but the blaze was put out before much damage was done. The Nazis occupied the building in 1940 and desecrated the Synagogue by using it for storage. The Nazis also destroyed the Jewish cemetery in Berlin. The Synagogue sustained severe damage by Allied bombs during the war and for years it was left as an empty shell. Restoration began in 1988 and the Synagogue was reopened on May 7, 1995, the 50th anniversary of the German surrender. Like many of the Synagogues it is guarded around the clock.

Jessica and Steven were incredibly kind and were great hosts. We had a wonderful time enjoying the sights, flavors and sounds of Berlin. It's an amazing city if you know what you are doing.

Summer and I went to Berlin to do a workshop. Jessica attended one of my workshops in Barcelona and asked if I would do one in Berlin at her studio. Having had a marginal time in Berlin in April, I said, "yes!". She did a lot of work to make it happen. We had four people in the workshop (including Jessica). Claire from London, Jan from Berlin and Steven from Berlin. Jessica and Steven are studio mates and are American. Claire is British and Jan is German. We had a lot of fun. I really enjoy the diversity and the personalities in these workshops.



The group cleaning glass.

Claire making a portrait of Summer. That's Steven crouching down (on the right). We had to open the windows for every exposure because the glass was UV protected - Collodion needs UV light to make a photograph.
A POP print (from a negative) I did of Jan. This was a 30 second exposure. I fixed in hypo, intensified with a very mild bleach and 15% AGNo3 solution and printed and toned on P.O.P. This was a demonstration on how to make negatives. His eyes in the print are striking!

Steven's boy, Jaden. He was a great little model for Steven. This is a 5x7 Black Glass Ambrotype. It's a beautiful plate, flaws and all.

Claire heats an 8x10 Black Glass Ambrotype to varnish it. This is another portrait of Jan. He was a great subject/sitter. This image was made right on the end of the UV for the day and has a very "dark" feeling - figuratively and literally - a very nice photograph.
  Jessica looking over the day's work.

Steven finishes the varnishing of his portrait.

Summer plays us out at the end of the workshop as Claire, Jan and Jessica look at, and talk about the photos.
Thank you Jessica, Steven, Jan and Claire. I really enjoyed my time in Berlin. I'm looking forward to a return visit.

Thank you Summer. You're a wonderful wet-head assistant and a talented, intelligent, beautiful and creative human being. I couldn't have done it without you. I love you.


German Town Nixes Kristallnacht Ceremony

The German town of Görlitz is refusing to allow its Jewish community to hold its own ceremony marking Kristallnacht.

After Kristallnacht. Instead, the only ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom will be held by the local Protestant church, which has traditionally focused on all victims of the Third Reich.

The small Jewish community had planned to bring a Torah scroll from Dresden into a newly renovated synagogue, which dates from 1909. It is the only synagogue to have survived Kristallnacht in the state of Saxony.

But the city insists that ceremonies must be secular and inclusive. The former synagogue was deconsecrated after the 1938 pogrom. Following its six-year renovation, the structure now has room for 230 guests.

"The city has canceled the entire event planned by the Jewish community and the Society for the Promotion of the Synagogue," which was to include several performances and speeches,  Alex Jacobowitz, cantor and chairman of the town's tiny Jewish community, told JTA.

He insisted that the Jewish community's program would be inclusive.

The Society for the Promotion of the Synagogue is a secular group authorized to hold ecumenical events in the building. It cooperates with the Jewish community. Now, only the ceremony run by the local Protestant church is still scheduled to take place in the building.

The city bought the synagogue from the remnant Dresden Jewish community in 1963, and then formally purchased it again from the Claims Conference after German unification, according to Jacobowitz, a musician who came from New York to Germany in 1991.

The approximately 30-member Jewish community has held services in a small sanctuary within the building for about a year, Jacobowitz said.

Story from JTA - http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/breaking/110844.html


Kristallnacht Remnants Unearthed Near Berlin

A huge dumping ground for the destroyed remains of Jewish property plundered during Kristallnacht has been found north of Berlin by an investigative journalist.

The destruction from Kristallnacht. The site, which is the size of four football pitches, in Brandenburg, contains an extensive array of personal and ceremonial items looted during orchestrated nationwide riots against Jewish property and places of worship on the night of November 9 1938. It is believed the goods were brought by rail to the outskirts of the village and dumped on designated land.

Yaron Svoray, the Israeli journalist who made the discovery, said it was a happy coincidence that he had stumbled across the artifacts so close to the 70th anniversary of the pogrom, also known as the Night of Broken Glass. (The Full Article Here - from The Guardian)
Photo: Jewish shops laid waste on Kristallnacht in 1938. Battmann/Corbis

I'm headed to Berlin Friday (24th Oct), I would really like to check this out. I doubt I could get anywhere near it though. I'm not even sure they've released the exact location yet. Here's a video of Yaron talking about what he found.


"We're Cleaning Up In Hessen"

This says, "We're Cleaning Up"

It's disturbing, and scary, when I see these kinds of blatant displays of hate and racism in a country like this.

It's from a political party here called "National Democratic Party". One poll cites that the majority of the population in Germany considers the NPD to be undemocratic and damaging to the image of the country. The NPD is viewed by its opponents and the mainstream media as a de facto neo-Nazi organization. The party opposes the increasing number of non-whites, Jews, and Muslims living in Germany. Don't misunderstand me, I think they should have the right to speak and express themselves. What I worry about is the fragility of this culture and inciting the people here. This is a very fragile place that way.

This poster says, "We're Cleaning Up" and the other one says, "We're Cleaning Up In Hessen". We live in Hessen. Think about the metaphor of cleaning up as it relates to this history. And the sheep! Wow! I suppose they know their demographic.

I'm not saying that if I lived in the United States, my neighbors would be tolerant and peaceful. However, I wonder if I drove down the street in Littletown, USA if I would see something like this?

"We're Cleaning Up In Hessen!"


Fallen Leaves

Today, I tried to take advantage of the beautiful weather here in Germany. It's late October and it's sunny and 16C (55F). Perfect weather for making plates.

I pulled out a new piece of black plastic (acrylic) and went to work. I mounted my Hermagis lens and stopped it down to a number six (6) Waterhouse stop. I'm going to make an educated guess here and say that would be about an f/30. Why? It's a 15" lens and the stop #6 is about .5"  - do the math.

Anyway, I decided I wanted to work on some kind of still life/landscape image. I chose to use the stopped down lens to show infinite (or close to it) depth and detail.

I chose to photograph our cherry tree. Cherry trees symbolize death, rebirth and new awakenings (among many other things including food and ornamental uses). Our cherry tree only produces fruit every other year. This year it didn't and I missed those delicious cherries (Kirschen).

Ever since I visited the Jewish Museum in Berlin, fallen leaves remind me of the faces in the piece called, "Fallen Leaves" - I did a 20 second video while I was walking on the "faces" - it was, loud and disconcerting.


I wanted to explore this idea of "fallen leaves" and yet show something resilient and strong (the tree trunk). So I setup this shot.

First, I took a jug of water and I poured it on the tree trunk. I knew it would help define the "texture/scars" on the trunk and make it dark. Water, or wet things, has/have an interesting relationship with Collodion. I really like the effect of something wet or something steel with Collodion (I think it's the reflection or sheen).

Next, I made a test exposure. It was way underexposed at 8 seconds. The next exposure, I went 16 seconds, still under and finally, after three plates, made this at 40 seconds.

"Fallen Leaves" - Cherry Tree, Viernheim, Germany

It's an 8x10 "Acrylotype" (made on a piece of black plastic). I'm happy with it. I love the light. It was early enough that this portion of my yard was still in the shade. I love how the leaves are the things that pickup, and reflect, the new morning light... and the trunk, standing tall and strong. It's surrounded with darkness and "things" coming out, or even reaching out, of that darkness. It's symbolic for me.