Fotoeins Fotografie

revisioning place and home
Shalechet, Shalekhet, Fallen Leaves, Menashe Kadishman, Jewish Museum Berlin, Berlin, Germany, Deutschland, fotoeins.com

My Berlin: Shalekhet (Fallen Leaves), Jewish Museum

The Jüdisches Museum (Jewish Museum) in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district is one of the most visited museums in the German capital. Millions from around the world have visited the museum since its opening in late-2001. With the unique architectural vision and building design by Daniel Libeskind, the museum does not set aside the history of the Jewish community within Germany as being separate from the history of the country as a whole. Instead, there is conscious effort by Libeskind and the Museum to have visitors consider how the historical, cultural, art, literature, music, intellectual, scientific, and economic contributions from the Jewish community are tied inextricably with the history of Germany over the span of two millennia. These very issues and questions are now also driving discussions about the present state and evolution of the Turkish and other expatriate communities within Germany.

One sculpture in particular is both poignant and disturbing.


Fallen Leaves

Sitting at the foot of the empty space “Memory Void” (Leerstelle des Gedenkens) is the 2001 sculptural installation called “Schalechet” (Shalekhet) by Israeli artist Menashe Kadishman.

Visitors are encouraged to interact by walking on the exhibit itself: to see the open-mouths in terror, the faces of soundless screams; and to listen to the jarring clanging sounds when thick metal pieces jostle against other pieces.

It’s an eerie atmosphere with the installation all to myself. I also feel what is unmistakably guilt as I tread on the “screaming” faces. Am I walking over representations of living breathing people? I think these feelings are in fact necessary, that I need to have these feelings of loss. Something important has been taken away. It’s as if the sculpture asks: “Germany is presently incomplete – will the country ever heal and be complete again?”

Near the sculpture, the accompanying caption in English reads:

Leerstelle des Gedenkens (Memory Void):

Shalechet or Shalekhet (“Fallen Leaves”), by Menashe Kadishman (born 1932 in Tel Aviv): 1997-2001, sheet steel. Gift of Dieter and Si Rosenkranz.

The architect Daniel Libeskind created empty spaces in several parts of the building. These so-called voids extend vertically through the entire museum and represent the absence of Jews from German society. The Memory Void contains a work by the Israeli artist Menashe Kadishman, who calls his installation “Shalekhet,” or “Fallen Leaves.” He has dedicated the over ten-thousand faces covering the floor to all innocent victims of war and violence.

Shalechet, Shalekhet, Fallen Leaves, Menashe Kadishman, Jewish Museum Berlin, Berlin, Germany, Deutschland, fotoeins.com

Memory Void, Shalechet – 19 Nov 2012 (450D).

Shalechet, Shalekhet, Fallen Leaves, Menashe Kadishman, Jewish Museum Berlin, Berlin, Germany, Deutschland, fotoeins.com

Shalechet (Fallen Leaves) – 19 Nov 2012 (450D).

Shalechet, Shalekhet, Fallen Leaves, Menashe Kadishman, Jewish Museum Berlin, Berlin, Germany, Deutschland, fotoeins.com

Terror – 19 Nov 2012 (450D).

Schalechet, Shalekhet, Fallen Leaves, Menashe Kadishman, Memory Void, Daniel Libeskind, Jewish Museum Berlin, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, Deutschland, fotoeins.com

Shalekhet (Fallen Leaves), by Menashe Kadishman – 27 Nov 2021 (X70).

Schalechet, Shalekhet, Fallen Leaves, Menashe Kadishman, Memory Void, Daniel Libeskind, Jewish Museum Berlin, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, Deutschland, fotoeins.com

27 Nov 2021 (X70).

Schalechet, Shalekhet, Fallen Leaves, Menashe Kadishman, Memory Void, Daniel Libeskind, Jewish Museum Berlin, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, Deutschland, fotoeins.com

27 Nov 2021 (X70).

Schalechet, Shalekhet, Fallen Leaves, Menashe Kadishman, Memory Void, Daniel Libeskind, Jewish Museum Berlin, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, Deutschland, fotoeins.com

Memory Void – 27 Nov 2021 (X70).

The following two-and-a-half minute video (iPT4) provides sights and sounds which give shape to the “void.”


Getting there

The Jewish Museum Berlin can be reached with public transport:

•   with S-Bahn train to station “Anhalter Bahnhof” (S1, S2, S25, S26),
•   with U-Bahn train to station “Kochstrasse” (U6) or “Hallesches Tor” (U1, U6), or
•   with bus 248 to stop “Jüdisches Museum.”

I made all photos above with a Canon EOS450D/Rebel XSi (450D) on 19 Nov 2012, the video with a 4th-generation iPod Touch (iPT4) on 19 Nov 2012, and additional photos with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime on 27 Nov 2021 (X70). This important museum is in my list of urban G-E-M-S for Berlin. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-2YP.

13 Responses to “My Berlin: Shalekhet (Fallen Leaves), Jewish Museum”

    • fotoeins

      Hi, Tim & Nat. I agree. I also admit I try to balance my emotional and rational responses. The guilt didn’t simply go away, but I asked myself this question: when there’s injustice, what can I do that’s better? I may not always come out smelling like roses, but I have to believe there’s an important beginning with asking that one question. Thanks for reading and for your comment!

      Like

  1. Menashe Kadishman – Daisy Blecker

    […] The architect Daniel Libeskind created empty spaces in several parts of the building [Jewish Museum]. These so-called voids extend vertically through the entire museum and represent the absence of Jews from German society. The Memory Void contains a work by the Israeli artist Menashe Kadishman, who calls his installation “Shalekhet,” or “Fallen Leaves.” He has dedicated the over ten-thousand faces covering the floor to all innocent victims of war and violence. (Source) […]

    Like

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    I visited this museum 31 December 2017 and it was a profound & thought provoking experience. Unlike many Holocaust museums, this one in particular forces the visitors to think, envision, and truly feel what victims of oppression and societal atrocities experience.

    Poldek Pfefferberg (one of Schindler’s children) once wrote, “Remember to never forget”. After visiting this museum one would be hard pressed to not do so.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • fotoeins

      Hi, Vivienne. Thanks for the link to your post; I’ll check it out! I’ve only been to Budapest once, and that was over 15 years ago. Yeah, I gotta go back. There’s a lot I’m covering in the German-speaking countries, and naturally, there’s a lot to cover, explore, and discover elsewhere throughout Europe. I once viewed Germany as a “life project” which it still is and always will be. But in fact, I view Europe entirely as a worthwhile “life project.” 😄

      Like

  3. Gary Easton

    When I read the note saying that the artist wants you to walk on it I was surprised. I walked on it and wept. Maybe only art can hit you on such an emotional level. Sadly we don’t seem to learn from it.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • fotoeins

      Hi, Gary. Thank you for stopping by and for your comment with which I’m in full agreement. Seeing Kadishman’s sculpture isn’t enough; the “experience” of walking on the sculpture in low light surrounded by clanging echoes is an emotional one, as was fully intended by both artist and museum.

      Like

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