Another Email from the Berlin Biennial

July 10, 2020



It must be two years now that I have been receiving emails from the Berlin Biennial on a regular basis. Invitations to events all over the city with different curators and artists, or that is what I think it was. This Berlin Biennial has been dragging on for so long, it has lost any form to me. Now I received an email about an "epilogue", which finally seems to be taken the form of a "real" exhibition, although that is still a guess. Apparently this Berlin Biennial doesn't want to be an alien space ship landing on the city for the summer, but a process-based and locally-made event. Well intended but one advantage of the alien space ship is that it brings along excitement. This current Berlin Biennial does not. 

I did get excited about something else locally. It was in front of my house. I have always enjoyed the brutalist fountain on the Tempelhofer "esplanade". But it wasn't until lockdown that I could be bothered to look up the name of the artist. It took me a while on Google to find him, Gerhard Schultze-Seehof. And searching a bit further about his sculptural work, I discovered he also made the wall relief in the fire station in the Wienerstraße in Kreuzberg. I used to live in front of that building for a few years in the 2000s. So for most of my time in Berlin, I have been living in front of the work of Gerhard Schultze-Seehof. Coincidence? The law of attraction? It must mean something... I'm still figuring out what. 







It must be two years now that I have been receiving emails from the Berlin Biennial on a regular basis. Invitations to events all over the city with different curators and artists, or that is what I think it was. This Berlin Biennial has been dragging on for so long, it has lost any form to me. Now I received an email about an "epilogue", which finally seems to be taken the form of a "real" exhibition, although that is still …


It must be two years now that I have been receiving emails from the Berlin Biennial on a regular basis. Invitations to events all over the city with different curators and artists, or that is what I think it was. This Berlin Biennial has been dragging on for so long, it has lost any form to me. Now I received an email about an "epilogue", which finally seems to be taken the form of a "real" exhibition, although that is still a guess. Apparently this Berlin Biennial doesn't want to be an alien space ship landing on the city for the summer, but a process-based and locally-made event. Well intended but one advantage of the alien space ship is that it brings along excitement. This current Berlin Biennial does not. 

I did get excited about something else locally. It was in front of my house. I have always enjoyed the brutalist fountain on the Tempelhofer "esplanade". But it wasn't until lockdown that I could be bothered to look up the name of the artist. It took me a while on Google to find him, Gerhard Schultze-Seehof. And searching a bit further about his sculptural work, I discovered he also made the wall relief in the fire station in the Wienerstraße in Kreuzberg. I used to live in front of that building for a few years in the 2000s. So for most of my time in Berlin, I have been living in front of the work of Gerhard Schultze-Seehof. Coincidence? The law of attraction? It must mean something... I'm still figuring out what. 







How Does a New Sound Begin? Three Teachings

June 12, 2020


During my online class with the art students in Burg Giebichenstein in Halle, we have a conversation with artist Wolfgang Müller about post-punk. Wolfgang says that appearances play in our society a much bigger role than inner values do.  

We also listen to Genesis P-Orridge talking about industrial music that they invented in the mid 1970s, a time of riots, strikes, and high unemployment in the UK. "How does a new sound begin?" Genesis asks. "From the people." 

Since I can't travel to Venice to teach an intensive writing workshop, I teach the students online twice a week. I'm enjoying this slower way of teaching. I tell so to Claudio Cravero, who invited me to teach. He says that in yoga there is the philosophy of "Rest and Digest" instead of "Fight and Flight".

In my online workshop for Zeta Gallery in Tirana, I propose short finger exercises in writing. Olson tells me that there is an Albanian saying: "I don't have time to write short. Because of this I write long."*


* A reader told me it might be recycled from Mark Twain's: ‘I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.' 
During my online class with the art students in Burg Giebichenstein in Halle, we have a conversation with artist Wolfgang Müller about post-punk. Wolfgang says that appearances play in our society a much bigger role than inner values do.   We also listen to Genesis P-Orridge talking about industrial music that they invented in the mid 1970s, a time of riots, strikes, and high unemployment in the UK. "How does a new sound begin?" Genesis…

During my online class with the art students in Burg Giebichenstein in Halle, we have a conversation with artist Wolfgang Müller about post-punk. Wolfgang says that appearances play in our society a much bigger role than inner values do.  

We also listen to Genesis P-Orridge talking about industrial music that they invented in the mid 1970s, a time of riots, strikes, and high unemployment in the UK. "How does a new sound begin?" Genesis asks. "From the people." 

Since I can't travel to Venice to teach an intensive writing workshop, I teach the students online twice a week. I'm enjoying this slower way of teaching. I tell so to Claudio Cravero, who invited me to teach. He says that in yoga there is the philosophy of "Rest and Digest" instead of "Fight and Flight".

In my online workshop for Zeta Gallery in Tirana, I propose short finger exercises in writing. Olson tells me that there is an Albanian saying: "I don't have time to write short. Because of this I write long."*


* A reader told me it might be recycled from Mark Twain's: ‘I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.' 

Local & Present

May 24, 2020

At the hairdresser

A dog walker is talking to another dog walker about the C-topic. He loves to throw in one-word sentences. "So." he says to emphasise he just proved a point and he is now about to make another one. "Aber." (But.) This to announce he is about to nuance the point he just made. And a bit later this is followed by: "Ich habe immer schon gesagt..." ("I've always said...") 

A father gives advice to his little daughter who is learning to walk: "Beim Laufen nach vorne gucken hilft!" (It helps when you look ahead while walking!) 

Three young women are sitting together on a bench. One says she learnt not to try to entertain (men) and keep a conversation going if she doesn't feel like it. Now, she just lets the conversation die down. She gives two examples: "Schön..." (Nice...) and "Cool..." 

There is a community garden near to my house, which started up in 1915. There is also a garden tavern where elderly Berliner are sitting around on plastic chairs. My neighbour tells me she asked what kind of drinks they sell. "Na, alles was es so gibt in einem Café! (Na, everything that is usually on offer in a café!). "Cappuccino?" my neighbour asked. "Nee, das nicht." (No, not that one.) 

Did you know that Andy Warhol loved drinking cappuccino? I read so in Blake Gopnik's new 961 pages long biography on Warhol.  Here on page 146: "Warhol was addicted to cappuccino - the drink was still 'a symbol of subversive sophistication'- and so became such a regular at Serendipity that word got out he was a part owner. He offered the actual owners his finest ideas for retailing- for instance, that they should sell real Hollywood stars' underwear, used and new - but he was probably of more use as a one-man revenue stream. Within a few years, he was running up a yearly tab in the thousands."

A tree in the park is taken over by worms. My friend C is concerned and goes to the district office to report the infestation. "I feel so German," she tells me. The day afterwards on my walk through the park I notice that a red and white tape now barricades the tree. A very German answer to a German request. 

My neighbour complains about the bird calls around the house. According to her, we have only birds that have ugly voices, like the sparrows (tsip tsip tsip), the pigeons (coo roo-coo-coo), the crows (caw). New arrivals for summer are the swifts, which are known for their flight but not for their song: "sriih-sriih!" 

This week, every morning at 5:30am, the crows seem to have some issues. They are fighting loudly with hoarse caws. I record the sound and ask my friend W, who knows everything about birds, what they are fighting about. "Sie wollen ihre Anwesenheit kundtun," W says. (They want to announce their presence.) On the internet I read that crows sometimes kill other crows, defending their mates, food and territory boundaries. It's also interesting to know that a group of crows is called a "murder." 

E who lives in Scotland, tells me that she saw a friend today who was so happy to see for the first time a person who is not framed by a rectangle. Then they discovered that E is standing in the doorway of her house, which is also a rectangle. 








A dog walker is talking to another dog walker about the C-topic. He loves to throw in one-word sentences. "So." he says to emphasise he just proved a point and he is now about to make another one. "Aber." (But.) This to announce he is about to nuance the point he just made. And a bit later this is followed by: "Ich habe immer schon gesagt..." ("I've always said...")  A father gives advice to his little …
At the hairdresser

A dog walker is talking to another dog walker about the C-topic. He loves to throw in one-word sentences. "So." he says to emphasise he just proved a point and he is now about to make another one. "Aber." (But.) This to announce he is about to nuance the point he just made. And a bit later this is followed by: "Ich habe immer schon gesagt..." ("I've always said...") 

A father gives advice to his little daughter who is learning to walk: "Beim Laufen nach vorne gucken hilft!" (It helps when you look ahead while walking!) 

Three young women are sitting together on a bench. One says she learnt not to try to entertain (men) and keep a conversation going if she doesn't feel like it. Now, she just lets the conversation die down. She gives two examples: "Schön..." (Nice...) and "Cool..." 

There is a community garden near to my house, which started up in 1915. There is also a garden tavern where elderly Berliner are sitting around on plastic chairs. My neighbour tells me she asked what kind of drinks they sell. "Na, alles was es so gibt in einem Café! (Na, everything that is usually on offer in a café!). "Cappuccino?" my neighbour asked. "Nee, das nicht." (No, not that one.) 

Did you know that Andy Warhol loved drinking cappuccino? I read so in Blake Gopnik's new 961 pages long biography on Warhol.  Here on page 146: "Warhol was addicted to cappuccino - the drink was still 'a symbol of subversive sophistication'- and so became such a regular at Serendipity that word got out he was a part owner. He offered the actual owners his finest ideas for retailing- for instance, that they should sell real Hollywood stars' underwear, used and new - but he was probably of more use as a one-man revenue stream. Within a few years, he was running up a yearly tab in the thousands."

A tree in the park is taken over by worms. My friend C is concerned and goes to the district office to report the infestation. "I feel so German," she tells me. The day afterwards on my walk through the park I notice that a red and white tape now barricades the tree. A very German answer to a German request. 

My neighbour complains about the bird calls around the house. According to her, we have only birds that have ugly voices, like the sparrows (tsip tsip tsip), the pigeons (coo roo-coo-coo), the crows (caw). New arrivals for summer are the swifts, which are known for their flight but not for their song: "sriih-sriih!" 

This week, every morning at 5:30am, the crows seem to have some issues. They are fighting loudly with hoarse caws. I record the sound and ask my friend W, who knows everything about birds, what they are fighting about. "Sie wollen ihre Anwesenheit kundtun," W says. (They want to announce their presence.) On the internet I read that crows sometimes kill other crows, defending their mates, food and territory boundaries. It's also interesting to know that a group of crows is called a "murder." 

E who lives in Scotland, tells me that she saw a friend today who was so happy to see for the first time a person who is not framed by a rectangle. Then they discovered that E is standing in the doorway of her house, which is also a rectangle. 








A Diary of Three's and Trees

May 16, 2020



Three Flash Stories


G. is doing home office. I ask G. if she misses her colleagues. 
She says: "I don't like them all but I'd rather see them."


*

Mother says to her son: "Bitte sei nicht genervt!" (Please don't be annoyed!)
The son: "Jetzt bist du auf den richtigen Weg mich zu nerven!" (Now you are on the right track to annoy me!)


*

Two women are walking together in the park. One is talking about the pandemic. Pointing at the ducks, the other woman says: "Lass uns als Ablenkung etwas schönes gucken." (Let us, as a distraction, look at something beautiful.)





Three Murder Stories



The sun bleeding
in the water
soaking wet
drenching the grass
until it reaches my feet


*

a crow 
suspends in the air
over a little dog
pondering its power
before the dog's sharp
bark
hushes it away

*





Three Poems



the trees throw
their trunks in
stripes to the ground

*

fine lines
drawn by
branches
across 
a sky 
heavy with
rain
that
promises
to 
fall
down

*

writing poetry 
outside is
easier than
inside
so I open 
the balcony
door and quickly jot 
down these 
words




Favourite Trees


Blood Beech



Red Horse Chestnut









Three Flash Stories G. is doing home office. I ask G. if she misses her colleagues.  She says: "I don't like them all but I'd rather see them." * Mother says to her son: "Bitte sei nicht genervt!" (Please don't be annoyed!) The son: "Jetzt bist du auf den richtigen Weg mich zu nerven!" (Now you are on the right track to annoy me!) * Two women are walking together in the park. One is talking about the pandemic. …


Three Flash Stories


G. is doing home office. I ask G. if she misses her colleagues. 
She says: "I don't like them all but I'd rather see them."


*

Mother says to her son: "Bitte sei nicht genervt!" (Please don't be annoyed!)
The son: "Jetzt bist du auf den richtigen Weg mich zu nerven!" (Now you are on the right track to annoy me!)


*

Two women are walking together in the park. One is talking about the pandemic. Pointing at the ducks, the other woman says: "Lass uns als Ablenkung etwas schönes gucken." (Let us, as a distraction, look at something beautiful.)





Three Murder Stories



The sun bleeding
in the water
soaking wet
drenching the grass
until it reaches my feet


*

a crow 
suspends in the air
over a little dog
pondering its power
before the dog's sharp
bark
hushes it away

*





Three Poems



the trees throw
their trunks in
stripes to the ground

*

fine lines
drawn by
branches
across 
a sky 
heavy with
rain
that
promises
to 
fall
down

*

writing poetry 
outside is
easier than
inside
so I open 
the balcony
door and quickly jot 
down these 
words




Favourite Trees


Blood Beech



Red Horse Chestnut