Copper by Catherine Evans

Copper by Catherine Evans

It's with frozen fingers that Catherine Evans and I eat our Kirschstreuselkuchen. Walking back on the Tempelhofer field our faces are slowly turning immobile. It's beginning of January and Catherine and I picked this ice-cold, snowy day to walk the field. On the Columbiadamm side, we visit a location that plays a role in Catherine's new book Copper commissioned by A Published Event for Lost Rocks. 

The book is a treasure, with precious design and beautiful paper. Also the language is carefully composed. Catherine Evans has a feeling for words, how they can make things "come back into our view." But also: "To give a word to something, we immediately leave all the things that are unnamed at the edge, where eventually they are washed away." 

"The word "genocide" is missing," Catherine Evans points out when we have reached the small marble stone. It's at the very end of the graveyard where a wall separates it from the open-air swimming pool. The memorial reminds of the thousands of Herero people who died from 1904 to 1907 in what is now Namibia. The set-up makes clear that there is a hierarchy in commemorating. The large boulder next to it is for the deaths of seven members of the Kaiser Franz 2nd Guards Grenadiers, who were killed in the war of extermination against the Herero people. Regularly, blood is thrown over the stone as a protest, then to be cleaned off again. 

Stones and what they stand for make up the stories that Evans weaves into one another in Copper while also layering time. From an implosion of a Canberra hospital in 1997 that unexpectedly became an explosion to the brass cobblestones in the streets of contemporary Berlin and back to the Indigenous stone scrapers at The National Museum of Australia. That museum is located on the place of the exploded hospital. And the hospital stood where was once the cottage of the first European settlement on the Molonglo plains, home to the Ngunnawal people. 

"The irr is.a prefix," Evans writes while pondering on the beautiful German word Irrstern, "which, when put before a word, indicates something that is lost, has travelled off its path or is mistaken." Stones are so immobile but in Copper they become things in motion . It is in the probing with language that they shine like stars.