At the plaza in front of Kassel’s Hauptbahnhof train station is “Man Walking to the Sky” by Jonathan Borofsky. Originally constructed for “documenta 9” in 1992 and installed in front of Museum Fridericianum at Friedrichsplatz, the sculpture was moved to the front of the Hauptbahnhof in 1995. The sculpture consists of a steel rod or pipe 25 metres in height and inclined at an angle of over 60 degrees; the lonely figure is a painted piece of fibreglass. While the figure walks precariously up the steep slope, the sculpture is undeniably one of hope, of an attempt to reach a goal much higher than is deemed humanly possible.
I made the photo above on 4 Oct 2017 with a Canon EOS6D mark1 and the following settings: 1/800-sec, f/8, ISO2000, and 24mm focal length. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-kGm.
Above/featured: next to the Staatstheater at Friedrichsplatz.
As an example of what he called “social sculpture”, German artist Joseph Beuys presented his “7000. Eichen” (7000 oak trees) project at the contemporary art exhibition “documenta 7” in Kassel in 1982. He declared “Stadtverwaldung statt Stadtverwaltung,” which is a play on German words and translates to “urban forestation, instead of urban administration.” He wanted to plant throughout the city 7000 new oak trees, each accompanied by a small pillar of basalt rock. With the trees representing the world and stones symbolizing civilization, Beuys expressed the idea that society could only exist or thrive by living in harmony with the natural world. The project initially encountered skepticism and hostility among the city’s citizens. But all 7000 were eventually planted and installed, effectively turning the entire city into a work of sculptural art and charging the city’s populace with the collective responsibility as the art’s caretakers.
Various exhibitions throughout Germany are marking Beuys’ 100th birthday (12 May) throughout the 2021 year.
Beuys’ artistic and historical legacy: 26-minutes in English, DW Arts.21, 8 May 2021.
(“Onkel Beuys befiehlt Ihnen!”) Information display at Friedrichsplatz with, perhaps, an homage to the American WW2 poster “Uncle Sam wants you!”
I made the two photos above on 1 and 3 Oct 2017 with a Canon EOS6D mark1. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-kGi.
Above/featured: A quiet leafy avenue in Olšany Cemetery.
I can’t spend all this time in the Czech capital city, and leave without paying any respects to two 20th-century personalities of Prague. Franz Kafka was an early 20th-century German-Czech writer (e.g., 1912 Die Verwandlung/Metamorphosis), whose writings became known to the world posthumously, thanks to friend and fellow writer Max Brod. In the 1960s, Jan Palach was an important historical figure of opposition who died in protest against the Communist regime.
I’m in the underground metro, heading east from the city centre towards Vinohrady and beyond to Olšany. The sun’s out on a crisp mid-autumn day, and while deciduous trees are left wanting for leaves, the latter have piled like carpets of colour on the cemetery grounds. I’m looking for the graves of Palach and Kafka who are buried in Olšanské hřbitovy (Olšany Cemetery) and Nový židovský hřbitov (New Jewish Cemetery), respectively.
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In Seattle, a friend in Ballard recommends a visit to their neighbourhood’s weekly farmers’ market. Despite the forecast for intermittent morning showers, I’m lured by any stroll through a market for bright harvest colours and freshly prepared food.
A slow meander through the stalls, letting curiosity be the guide. Fresh apples and pears here; ripe plump tomatoes there. From an assortment of red and yellow peppers; to an array of yellow and green gourds. Quickly, the appetite is on high alert. Quesadillas prepared fresh from the grill. Hot from the fryer, little donuts sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Happy dogs walking their humans; couples strolling with children; others sitting on the curb for a chat, nosh, and sip.
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Honouring the surname
In the mid- to late-1970s, our parents took us to single-screen movie theatres with names like Olympia, Golden Harvest, and Shaw for cinema night to watch movies made in Hong Kong. There were dramas; some high on the melodrama and low on character. Some were historic-period pieces, and there were kung-fu movies for which Dad passed his love to me.
There’s nothing quite like seeing a kung-fu action sequence on a big screen. I was mesmerized the first time I laid eyes on a memorable fight scene set in Rome’s Colosseum, that epic scene observed by little stone dragons between “Little Dragon” himself, Bruce Lee, and Chuck Norris’ character in the 1972 film “The Way of the Dragon“. As a kid, I was proud to have had the same surname as this Bruce fellow, and memories of seeing his on-screen characters prevailing in fights have stuck over time (e.g., “Boards don’t hit back.”)
Tragically, Bruce and his son, Brandon, died too young. I’m certain when I was a teen that I asked where Bruce Lee was buried; my parents didn’t know and in pre-internet days, it was more of a challenge to find those answers. But the mystery has long been solved: Bruce Lee and his son, Brandon, lay side by side in Lake View Cemetery in Seattle’s Capitol Hill.
Despite multiple visits to the city in years past, this particular return trip to Seattle has been decades in the making for a chance to honour a part of my childhood and a part of my heritage. When I find the Lees, my arrival means another answer has been quietly realized. On a crisp bright autumn morning under blue skies, I feel my father’s spirit with me; he never had the chance to come to this cemetery. My lips move without voice, a prayer I utter into the ether, pushing for hope to reach him. Because I know now that this, is also for my Dad.
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