Wednesday, October 3, 2007


I spent all of yesterday looking at an assortment of prints by Erich Heckel made between 1907 and 1965. I’m not ready to try to put any related ideas into language yet -- thoughts about the intricacies of carving faces and landscapes are still churning (the detail shown was not photographed on this trip). I also had a chance to look at a stunning little drypoint done by Ludwig Meidner in 1913. The effect was a bit like looking into a small glass orb to see a city coming apart as if under some extreme gravitational influence; or maybe it is better described as a city that is shaking apart because the routine laws of perspective have failed; or perhaps it is a city in which matter is strung out like laundry on lines that have snapped and so they no longer converge. I’m going to extreme lengths not to use the one word that is always used to describe Meidner.

Today, October 3, is an anniversary of German reunification. For the past few days the German television networks have been working up to this national holiday with a movie, with interviews and with other specials focusing on the difficulties of divided Germany prior to October 3, 1990. These programs have been discussed as an attempt to remind that part of the population that suffers from “Ostalgie” -- the nostalgia for life as it was in the East (Ost) -- just how grim existence was under the control of the East German secret police.

he most prominent of these televised features was a film (Die Frau vom Checkpoint Charlie) about Jutta Gallus (now Gallus-Fleck) and her daughters. Gallus is the brave woman who had been a political prisoner in East Berlin but was eventually “traded” to the West in exchange for a large payoff. The cruel twist is that Gallus’ release meant that she was forcefully separated from her young daughters who had to remain in East Berlin. Some of you probably remember photographs of Gallus
near Checkpoint Charlie where she demonstrated daily beginning in 1984, wearing signboards about her daughters and her divided family. After the movie was screened the real, and articulate Jutta Gallus and her grown daughters appeared for a round-table discussion that would seem to put to rest any lingering glorification of a police state, but no doubt the situation is more insidious than that.

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