Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Updates: Posts Revisited

The timing couldn’t be better: on the heels of the last post about how kitsch and cliché are necessary evils, and not even all that evil, Der Tagesspiegel had a special feature on kitsch today, calling it “sugar water for the soul: insubstantial, way too sweet, but sometimes too good to give up.” That right there is justification to run out and buy some bad art for that bare spot above the washing machine. Or better yet a poster copy of bad art.

The Feb. 12 post reported about the DDR museum’s rosy focus on daily life and not-too-subtle exclusion of the darker aspects of routine existence under the East German dictatorship. Perhaps heeding the call to keep history, well, history, and not happy stories, the Gedenkstätte Hohenschönhausen, or Stasi-jail-complex-turned-memorial, just opened an exhibit about daily life in Stasi prison. Items such as a shaving brush or prison uniform will complete this second version of Alltagsleben, giving the capital two completely opposing exhibitions of quotidian material debris.

The Palast der Republik, the former seat of the East German government controversially currently being ripped down to rebuild a Baroque Palace that once stood on the spot (see Jan. 28 post) is now missing its front tooth: the foyer has been completely torn down, leaving an enormous wind-whistling gap in the center. It packs a visual punch of finality that yes, the Palast really is going to disappear, despite the work’s seemingly slow progress in dismantling only the façade. The skeleton is now losing its bones, a development so illustratively startling as to be found newsworthy today.

The momentum is likely to continue, since recent pledge of support to rebuild the Schloss’ from the American group Friends of Dresden. The group that initially collected funds to reconstruct Dresden’s once-firebombed Frauenkirche is turning its attention to the woefully broke Schloss project, vowing financial support. Henry Kissinger, who was born in Germany and fled as a Jewish refugee in 1938, sits on the Foundation’s board, giving the story a nice reconciliatory twist as well. This will make it yet-harder for Schloss criticizers to continue portraying the tear-down as work of historical idiocy and misguided Utopianism.

Meanwhile, a baby polar bear was born to the Berlin Zoo and he’s very cute. That’s it. Yet that’s not it, because the press has gone absolutely hog-wild (excuse the mixed animal metaphors) for the little white furball, focusing headline after headline on him. And this isn’t just Bild tabloid fans driving such mania; even normally staid papers are in the action. As readers of post Nov. 27 can imagine, the Berliner Zeitung has also been following the little bear, named Knut, quite closely.

Knut image courtesy Der Tagesspiegel.


Annemiek Wintraecken said...

Hi Arden,
Love to read your blogs about Berlin! Ok with you that I use your images and stories about the Palast in my mini-website?:,
It has a link to your blog.

Greetings from The Netherlands!

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