Berlin Blog 3

Michael Rodemer is spending much of the Summer of 2011 doing a collaborative art project in Berlin with Berlin artist (and former A&D Witt Resident) Franz John as part of Über-Lebenskunst, a symposium devoted to exploring sustainability, sponsored by the House of World Cultures and the Federal Cultural Foundation.

Berlin blog. Entry 3. June 5, 2011

There’s nothing like work to bring a person back down to earth.

Since the first Berlin blog entry, with its fantasies of a polychromed pate and an illustrated epidermis, I’ve been very busy: the workshop for a group of Gymnasium students was followed by preparation for an installation at the “Long Night of the Sciences” event on May 28th. Our host, the Helmholtz-Institut of Berlin-Wannsee, commissioned Berlin artist Franz John and me to make a piece related to their scientific focus, which includes materials and energy research. (They are not technologizing scientific discoveries, but doing fundamental science research.) A report on the event can be seen at my blog entry on the Über-Lebenskunst website. Franz John produced the layout, I wrote the text.

Since the Long Night, Franz and I have spent some time planning what we will do for the August festival portion of the Über-Lebenskunst competition; I’ll share some of that in a later post.

Right now, I feel an obligation to explain the multiple puns in the title of the competition*. The parts are by far not the whole: über is over or about, Leben is life, and Kunst is art. But “over-life-art” doesn’t make much sense. Trying again: überleben means to survive. Lebenskunst is the art of living; a Lebenskünstler is someone who really knows how to live (a bon vivant, but without the associations of moral dissipation that cling to that notion).

“Über Lebenskunst” (no hyphen) is a phrase that can mean “about the art of living.”  That little hyphen, however, does a lot of linking: thus, the title is finally about survival, yes, but knowing how to survive well, and maybe art has something to do with that also. And in any case, this whole project is about all of that, conflating art, survival, inventiveness, and sustainability.

If you go to the project website, you can see what all 14 projects are about. Our project is “Raus aus der Biotonne” in German, and “From Waste to Watts” in English. The German title means: out of the compost bin! An explanation of our project is also on the site. At top right, there are two little links allowing the user to choose German or English. (Most content is bilingual, but not all.)

More in a few days. I’ve been taking some pictures and need to organize them for a few blog posts.

Here is a rather scurrilous one from the street.



* This paragraph should have a LOT more quotation marks, such as around all the words qua words. If you know where they go, please mentally put them there; it's too humid here for me to type them all in. If you don’t know where they go, what were you doing in high school English class?


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