Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Winter Residency: Material to review - please review this if you do not have time to go through all Dec15/Nov15/Oct15 blog posts

Hi all,
if you do not have time to go through all my three process blogs from December 15th, November 15th and October 15th, I would like to ask you to have a look at a video I created recently.

as you know I am investigating the different identities certain places have over time and in the past I have layered maps on top of each other in my paintings. My first year project was a sound piece in which I had wanted to put together the following 5 different loops:

-voices of right wing extremists demonstrating every Monday in Dresden against Germany accepting refugees from Syria

and juxtapose those to these four sound loops
-my voice reading Paul Celan's Todesfuge, a poem about the genocide by a Holocaust survivor
- Hitler's voice
- voices of the Nazi's at the Wannsee Conference (where the Holocaust was decided)
- the voice of Dr. peter Gary, a Holocaust Survivor

Once I had put all of these together and edited my interview with Dr. Peter Gary, I wondered if I should not go one step further and create a video.

I want to project the experiences of the past (using my own voice (reading poets who are Holocaust survivors) or Dr. Peter Gary's voice) on images of burning refugee homes of today or on images of the destroyed cities of Aleppo and Homs.

Not only containing these above, but also the voice of a Syrian regufee, Fareed, who's family I have been trying to get to Canada (his wife and children are in a refugee camp in Turkey) and the situation in Syria.

So here is the video and the explanation for it that I had on my Nov 15 blog. Please be so kind and see the video. Thank you.

I have sounds of Hitler’s speech and the interview I did with the Holocaust survivor, yet I wanted in my juxtaposition of Holocaust experiences also show images of right wing extremists demonstrating in Dresden’s streets. Since these new right wing extremists are now fighting against refugees from Syria to come to Germany, I had the idea to interweave an interview I had done with a refugee from Syria in Berlin in the spring of this year and show images of Syria and the war. 

Including the two-minute credit lines with some background information, the film is now 18:32 long.

What I am doing here and want to explore
Is to juxtapose experiences of the Holocaust to current events: Nazis and extreme right wing people in Germany protesting against accepting refugees of Germany. Show the situation in Syria of the refuges who came to our country. So I want to show newly arisen hate against foreigners, this time against Muslims in Germany and weave images and voices from our German Nazi past into those current experiences. Due to those new right wing extremists coming up in Germany, the authorities changed the law last year and it is not possible anymore for war refugees from Syria to bring their families. The two poems I am reading (in German) are reflecting on war and on the Holocaust. 

So this is not a public Tv documentary but since I am a MFA student, I am allowing myself certain liberties, such as for example overlaying the sound of a poem that talks about the one genocide, over images of a different war. But as we know, this is not only a civil war, also several ethnic minority groups are being oppressed and killed in Syria. So I do that deliberately. 

I have had some feedback from Derek, Malvina, Gabrielle, Kayoko, and Jay. By some it was suggested that I put the translated text of the poems as subtitles in the video, but I have decided against it, because I want the images to speak. During my workshops in the summer Jean-Marie encouraged me to work with my voice, so I used it a couple of times (in German) in those films. I am reading poems by Holocaust survivors Primo Levi and Paul Celan. 

Also it was suggested that I do not put subtitles over Fareed’s voice, but several people said they cannot understand what he is saying, so I thought it is better to put subtitles.

Material I have been working with:
-       I did an interview Fareed Abd Albaki, Refugee from Homs, Syria, in Berlin 2016
-       I did an interview with Dr. Peter Gary, Holocaust survivor, 1923-2016, you hear his voice in the film
- otherwise I used material I found on u-tube, but I am mentioning all of them in the end of the film

In between you hear the voice of Adolf Hitler, I am playing excerpts of his infamous ‘prophecy’ speech from January 1939 in which he openly announced that the Jewry of Europe will eventually be destroyed. (this is interesting because so many Germans after the war said they had no clue what was going on in the camps and didn’t know where Jewish people were taken and what was happening to them). 

The first setting in my video is the destroyed city of Homs in Syria, which I am juxtaposing to a sound piece I created.  I am reciting the poem Todesfuge (death fugue) by Holocaust survivor Paul Celan. In the poem which is full of metaphors, he describes life in a concentration camp in the face of death. The sound piece is a collaboration with NY composer Concetta Abbate. 

The next scene is at the closed border of Macedonia in the spring 2016 where solders are shooting at refugees. The rest of the film so far is, I think, self explanatory…..

So here is the piece https://vimeo.com/197113022, the password is ti16

It is important that you watch it in the biggest possible format, if you can listen to it via a headset, it would be even better.....

Monday, 12 December 2016

Dec 15 post

So this last month I have been mainly in the studio painting and I recorded a couple of sound pieces.

Sound 1

As in my video and in my paintings I wanted to pursue the idea of layering. I created two new sound pieces. In these two pieces I am overlaying voices. Two different identities:

Sound 1: I have asked Fareed, the Syrian artist from Homs who is a refugee in Berlin to send me a recording of his voice, of a poem in Arabic.
Then I wrote a poem in German, that talks about me welcoming him to Berlin. About his lost home country and his new home, it is about the city and about finding refuge. Berlin giving him shelter from the war. What does ‘Heimat’ (home country) represent. A place to heal from the trauma and the terror. What does a refuge represent ? etc. What will become of his home country? When will he finally see his children again? I know that this is not so much about understanding every word what is said, I guess is more about the pattern of languages and someone arriving in a new country in which a different language is spoken. Overlaying identities, such as I have done in the past.

Here is the text of the poem in German:

Poem for my friend from Syria

was bist du?/
was stellst du dar?/
Ich heisse dich willkommen/
lieber Fareed/
in meiner Stadt/in Berlin/
soll sie fuer dich sein/
vor dem Grauen des Krieges/
solltst du von deinem Trauma/
 das dich des Nachts nicht schlafen laesst/
Deine Erinnerung an den Terror/
den Krieg/
in deinem Land/
Was ist uebrig nun von deiner Heimat?/
und das sinnlose Toeten nimmt kein Ende/
Wird es je zuende sein?/
Gibt es jemals ein zurueck?/
Homs/Deine Stadt ist zerstoert/
Kann Berlin dir jemals eine Heimat sein?
Die Menschen/
sind kalt/
sie heissen dich nicht willkommen/
Sie sagen sie haben Angst/
vor Ueberfremdung/
alles nur dummes Zeug /
im Angesicht der Qualen Deines Volkes/
Wann wird es je zuende sein?/
Wann wirst du/Fareed/
Deine Tochter/ Deine Soehne/Deine Frau/jemals wiedersehen?
Wird es eine Rueckkehr geben/ nach Homs?
Ich fuehle Deine Einsamkeit/
hier in meiner Stadt/Berlin/
Die Kaelte/
die Naesse/
die in jeden Knochen zieht/
und uns laehmt/
Du wanderst durch die dir fremde Stadt/
ohne Ziel/
meine Heimat/
Die Stadt hat viele Narben/
viele Gesichter/
gepraegt von vielen Regimes/ von Kriegen/
von der Teilung und den Herrschaften der Macht.
Berlin hat auch viele gute Jahre gesehen/
traegt besondere Erinnerungen/
viel Leid natuerlich auch/
Doch/kann dort/ wo Menschen/ wie heute in deinem Land/
verfolgt wurden und gedehmuetigt wurden/
jemals das Licht wieder vorherrschen?
Wir/die Menschen dieser Stadt/Berlin/muessen es entzuenden/
Sei willkommen/Fareed/mein Freund

Sound 2: Berlin voices

Here, I used the beautiful voices of Fareed, Malvina, Bill, Louis and my own voice. 5 people who all were in Berlin at the same time, 5 different voices and languages on top of each other….. languages as patterns, different identities layered on top of each other… While Fareed, Louis, Malvina chose the poems they sent to me (and I said I will not censor what kind of peom they send, the poem Bill reads is a poem about Berlin’s Palast der Republik and I am reading the poem “An die Nachgeborenen” by Berthold Brecht, a poem that is directed to the next generation after the generation of Germans who witnessed the Holocaust. The next generation that will ask questions, the poem tries to explain the impossible.

During the past two months I have tried to go away from my strict overlaying of two or more maps. I have started to paint with a brush and I have made my compositions more open, added that element of ambiguity. I wanted to add either structure to the chaos or chaos to the order of maps or structured elements. I did a sidestep from only wanting to talk about the meaning of two different identities, but became very much involved in thinking about the mere process of painting and creating.

As you can tell, I have been painting and experimenting a lot with this new series of 4 paintings. I am trying to figure out where to go while I want to go away from my strict overlaying of two maps. So at the moment I am looking for other ways to talk about those maps, but I want to go looser and abstract those maps more. So in a way I have been playing with putting structure (order) against chaos. Well here is what I have. The two paintings that I am the happiest with are structure IV and III.
I had posted Structure I on the November 15 blog

Here are some process images: 

And here are the paintings I finished this month: 
 Structure IV, 40 by 60 inches

Structure II, 36 by 36 inches

Structure III, 40 by 60 inches

And I had also finished the painting with the concentration camp maps which I had thought was finished last month. I added some elements so here is the finished Camp Moschendorf V painting now

30 by 50 inches

Advisor meeting Dec 15 blog

In my second conversation with Andrew we first discussed the video I had posted on the November 15th blog. Andrew recommended me to sit with the work and to think of the piece like I work with my paintings: in layers. The work for the moment is too episodic and I need to get the layering process more across. Also ask myself what is the work of the work? What do I want it to do? So I suggested that I could go back and isolate and re-edit the two sequences where I overlay 1. Images of the destroyed city of Homs, Syria and 2. The burning refugee houses in Germany with the sound of my voice reading poems from Holocaust survivors. In this way I do what I do in my painting work: overlay different identities of different times on top of each other. Instead of painting two maps on top of each other I will be overlaying the sound of experiences of the Holocaust with the visual of current events. Andrew encouraged me to create several new videos in that way….

For the moment, however, I will be focussing on painting, since Andrew also asked me to bring a painting to NYC. I always paint on wood and my paintings are heavy. So in order to bring work to NYC I will create a painting on canvas and will bring it in a tube….

After the video we discussed my painting work, I showed Andrew my two new paintings and a painting I am currently working on. One of the pieces of advice Andrew gave me was that besides ‘going crazy’ with the loser painting work, I should also ‘exercise restraint’.

We discussed several other subjects and Andrew answered some questions I had regarding the program and the crit group. It was great and helpful to have that conversation.