Fotoeins Fotografie

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Posts tagged ‘Berlin’

My Berlin: Humboldt University’s court of honour

Above/featured: Illuminated by autumn morning light, Helmholtz stands proud in the Humboldt University’s “Ehrenhof”.

If you’re in Berlin for the first time, you’ll likely make your way to the city centre and the classic tree-lined avenue Unter den Linden. When you’re not people-watching, you’ll likely admire the architecture along the way. Across the street from Bebelplatz plaza is the main building of the Humboldt University (HU). In its front court or “court of honour” are several memorial statues dedicated to some key figures in the history of arts, sciences, and the university: Hermann Helmholtz, Lise Meitner, Max Planck, and Theodor Mommsen.

The Humboldt University was one of many stops in Berlin during my visit in November 2021.

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My Berlin: the buried Bibliothek at Bebelplatz

On a clear cool late-autumn morning, a young child is looking through an opening in the cobblestone plaza. She looks up to the man standing next to her.

Daddy, why is there a glass window? What happened here?

The thing to keep in mind is that this square in Berlin is called Bebelplatz (BAY-buhl-platz), and not Babbleplatz. It’s easy to make the mistake. After all, a great repository of books was once created inside the building seen above, in what was once home of the Königliche Bibliothek or Royal Library.

But then came along a large racist blather.

Accompanied by a big ugly fire.

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Friedhof Wannsee Lindenstrasse, Neuer Friedhof Wannsee, Friedhof Wannsee II, Berlin, Germany, Deutschland, fotoeins.com

My Berlin: Wannsee cemetery with Helmholtz, Fischer, Conrad

Above/featured: Friedhof Wannsee Lindenstrasse with Andreaskirche in the background.

I came here looking for a physicist, but I also found a Nobel-Prize winning chemist and a successful banker.

In the southwest corner of metropolitan Berlin tucked away under rows of leafy trees in a quiet residential neighbourhood in Wannsee is a small cemetery, next to a tall red brick church Andreaskirche. With the main (east) entrance off Lindenstrasse, the cemetery is called Friedhof Wannsee Lindenstrasse; alternate names include “Neuer Friedhof Wannsee” and “Friedhof Wannsee II.” Opened in 1887, the cemetery is one of the smallest in the city with an area about 1.9 hectares (19-thousand square metres) or a shade under 5 acres.

(My day trip to Wannsee was only one element of my “quick” 11-day hop to Berlin in autumn 2021.)

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My Berlin: Alicja Kwade, bridging art and science

Above/featured: Alicja Kwade exhibition, at the Berlinische Galerie. HL:X70.

In October 2021, I watched DW Culture’s Arts.21 feature on Polish-German artist Alicja Kwade. I knew I had to see her work and exhibition in person, but would it be even possible? My answer arrived six weeks later with a quick jump home to Berlin.

All of Kwade’s sculptural pieces in her exhibition, “In Abwesenheit” (In Absence)”, are “self-portraits.” But none of them show her face; the pieces aren’t necessarily simple, nor are they “selfies” characterized by the present vernacular. She is not physically present, and yet, every piece provides the visitor a glimpse into her mindset including questions she raises about the volatility of the human condition and about where we fit within a very large universe.

As former research scientist, I’m recognizing and I’m loving the influences on her art. She is clearly very interested in mathematics, physics, astrophysics, biology, genetics; but she’d be the first to admit she’d need multiple lives to completely fulfill all of her interests. The deconstruction of “self” into precise scientific elements is another way of expressing those (dreaded) “selfies” or self-portraits. I admire the clever play: it’s the breakdown into those elements that tell us what she is, and it’s the measured synthesis of those elements into the broad strokes of her sculptures that tell us who she is.

We’re all playing this game. Everyday things seem so important. But then you zoom out and realize that you’re standing with another billion [people] on a spinning sphere. With that perspective, you’re reminded to just be glad you’re here at all.

– 16 April 2019, Artnet News about her rooftop commission at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.


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My Berlin: Chinese-Canadian Q.J. Louie at the Commonwealth War Cemetery

Above/featured: Cemetery view facing west, from the shelter building to the Stone of Remembrance, Cross of Sacrifice, and Terrace in the distance (WCL-X70: 14/21mm).

There’s a presence from western Canada buried in eastern Germany.

In Vancouver, Canada, the H.Y. Louie family has long been a part of the Chinese-Canadian community and the overall merchant community. Their current business holdings include the London Drugs chain of stores and the IGA grocery-store chain; both are well recognized throughout greater Vancouver.

One member of the family is resting permanently 8000 kilometres away in Berlin, Germany. An important goal in my return to the German capital city is a visit to the cemetery where a member of the Louie family, Q.J. Louie, is buried. It’s never been a matter of if, but when I return to Berlin.

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