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Every refugee knows

Emily Dische-Becker about what every refugee knows
04.04.14
2 min
Post

“When you are coming from a war zone, you can’t tolerate dead time. The most important thing is to start rebuilding something,” says Bashar Tamawi, a 33-year old urologist from Syria, who is currently holed up at an asylum center in Berlin-Gatow, pending his second court date. It took Tamawi three months to get to Berlin from Deir Ez-Zorr, where he performed over a thousand surgeries in a field hospital, only a stone’s throw away from the front line and often without electric power and sufficient medical supplies. The German authorities, some of whom may themselves in future require Tamawi’s services, e.g. for a prostate exam, should allow him to begin rebuilding a new life without further delay. And I should stop making references to prostate exams when talking to German asylum bureaucrats.

Tamawi’s asylum hearing is next week. The case worker who questioned Tamawi in Berlin promised him (and me) that it would not affect his asylum application if he detailed how he entered Germany. This is untrue. According to the Dublin convention, asylum seekers can be deported to their first point of entry in Europe.

Here is a wonderful profile of Tamawi from Wednesday’s Die Taz.

Same Same no different

04.04.14
5 min
Post

As Murat proceeded me and named his first and excellent post on 60pages ‘Crisis what Crisis’ ( after a superbe Supertramp Album btw), I couldn’t help but had to find another title for my first post in ‘Countries in Crisis’ about Turkey. See above. Istanbul is where I reside right now besides Berlin and I went through the weeks proceeding the local elections and am now going through the aftermath of the outcome. The title popped up my mind immediately and of course I wanted it to name the same because this title is so gripping and befitting for the actual situation in Turkey, post elections. In a nutshell: the ruling AK Parti with Prime Minister Erdogan won the local elections and manifested their status quo with a raise in percentage of votes. Erdogan declared these elections not as the communal elections which they were supposed to be but as the elections in which the country decided whether he is going to stay in power after last year’s Gezi protests and the huge corruption scandal which evolved within the ruling party. Well, he is staying in power and his revenge is bitter! Some people are beyond happy with and are very responsible for the outcome because they voted relentlessly for Erdogan. Some are saying that this period is the worst nightmare that this country is going through  (sooo wrong!) and some are saying ‘Crisis what Crisis!’ because it has never been different and will never change, they say. Thinking that elections will make radical changes in democratic societies is the underlying misapprehension. Elections may shift power structures but they are not changing them. Either they are there or they are not. If the past months since the Gezi protests in Istanbul showed something it is anything but the predominant power structures occupying turkish politics. The young folks and majority of people who occupied the Gezi park for a couple of weeks and took their anger to the streets in order to be met with disproportionate violence by the police don’t have a party as their voice. Most of them (but not all of them) were either a-political or weren’t interested in participating in extra-parliamentary aka alternative movements or were involved but got frustrated because of the belief that nothing will ever change. This has many reasons which I can comprehend and retrace but for me it causes a lot of questions and concerns when I want to show my solidarity wholeheartedly. For me especially one reason always bothered and will always bother me: A lot of people were oblivious to the fact that there is an ongoing political and military ‘confrontation’ (to put in an euphemism) for almost 30 years in the east anatolian pre-dominantly kurdish region of Turkey. To explain this conflict would exceed these pages but to name one fact: more than 30.000 people were killed in the conflict and only recently a supposed appeasement strategy has started. For a very long time this didn’t bother too many secular or religiously conservative young or old people in this country who weren’t kurdish. Kurdish-turkish people weren’t allowed to speak their language, listen to their music, express their political opinions, assemble in associations and so on for ages. Only recently the situation is changing and kurdish people are granted more rights and self-determinative power. Only recently means: since the ‘evil’ AKP is in power and opened the peace negotiations. To stand up and take your discontent to the streets is something I support wholeheartedly because I did it for the majority of my life in Kohl and post-Kohl Germany as a leftist person. Leftist organization and opposing the conservative governments also has a history in Turkey but this history is soaked with blood by three military coups. Following these coups people got estranged of taking sides, showing their political viewpoints upfront and got a-politicized to the fact that they couldn’t care less when an inner war is going on in their country and thousands were killed. It were always the ‘others’ never themselves and now that the wind has changed the urge to change something emerges. Yes, something has to change but is not the fact that Party A has to go in order that Party B has to come. My viewpoint post-electorial is this: The country was ruled by secular conservative militarist bozos for the majority of time since the founding of the republic. The kemalist republican doctrine was used a political and strategic instrument in order to enslave the citizens and make them forget the loss of their civic power in a democratic society. It screwed people’s minds severely and the effects are still prevailing. The oppression, prosecution and killing of thousands and thousands of political and religious dissidents in the name of Atatürk and the kemalist doctrine for the entirety of the republic has left a severe trauma and mutual mistrust among the people. I am nothing but a critical thinking person but in my opinion this is the root of a majority of problems which are encountered right now. Anything else is make believe. This got already too long as my first post but will elaborate soonish.

Jane Fränzel
People

Jane and I first met in the fall of 2001, at Cookies in Berlin, immediately striking up a close friendship – so close that some time later, at a Le Tigre concert, roadies videotaped us and asked for how long we had been going out. We hadn’t, not in that sense – but we were to go to many places together. We took the same courses at university and I remember us sitting through endless lectures in German literature: stuck in a not yet renovated auditorium of Humboldt University, with greenish paint peeling from the walls, and a faint, but distinct GDR smell in the air, we’d spend hours passing notes back and forth, scribbling Riot Grrrl slogans („Pärchen verpisst euch, keiner vermisst euch!“) and practising Chinese characters. Jane wrote little nightlife columns for a leftist newspaper on the side, passionate and poetic miniatures that captured both the frenzy and melancholia of Berlin nightlife, before taking off for Beijing where she became a DJ herself Girls & Horses being the name of her act. Today, Jane works as a writer and translator, and continues to live life with enthusiasm and joy. She possesses a huge capacity for friendship and a radical openness for whatever great things might come along, while at the same time cherishing small things with loving care and attention: the old china from her Dresden family, neatly arranged on white cupboards, or the wide array of succulent plants she smuggled in from Los Angeles. Her small apartment is a baroque cabinet of wonders, and sometimes Jane strikes me as a modern day, big city, very benevolent witch. Now that Jane chose to swap the meek pleasures of a Berlin spring with the exotic promises of Hawaii, I rummage through the many little gifts I received from her over the years: tiny erasers in screaming colors, a ton of mix CDs, and postcards from all over the world – covered in wild and bulgy slopes, a deliriously expressive handwriting I can’t stop being hypnotized by.

Elise Lammer
People

Elise’s Swissness (what a tongue twister) is hard to pinpoint, maybe because it has been partly obscured by her London years (or her years in Barcelona or New York). Since she moved to Berlin a couple of months ago (after we both had spent some time in the waltzing city of Vienna), I have become aware of an accumulation of Lausanne expats that seems to be constantly hosting lovely dinners or performances consisting of picnics and sunny afternoons. Elise seems to be immediately surrounded by a large gang of fabulous friends and collaborators in every city she goes. She is a freelance curator, artist, writer – in itself an act of constant defiance against the forces of economics and pragmatism – and is one of the most productive people I know, despite or maybe because of the dinners and picnics. Collaboration and communal thought are at the centre of her endeavours. She is massively committed to her work, to people, ideas, and I hugely admire her sensibility. She gets up at ungodly hours in the morning and makes poker-face fun of me sometimes for being constantly anxious. Once she told me about a conversation she had with an ex-lover in the bathtub that changed her life, because she realised that she could be whoever she wanted to be.
Since March 2014, Elise Lammer is artist-in-residence in Marfa, Texas. Together with French artist Pauline Beaudemont, she is currently conducting a research on the city’s mystic and subconscious history. She also plans to kill an old pair of Chelsea boots while hiking through the desert.

Hadley+Maxwell
People

I recently read a biography of Muhammad Ali. My favorite part of the book is about how Ali once gave the commencement speech at Harvard. After the speech was over, everybody applauded and someone shouted: “Give us a poem!” The story goes that the entire audience fell quiet and Ali uttered what I understand is now officially the shortest poem in the English language. It went: “Me, We.” Ali gave his speech in 1975 and when people talk about that poem today, they say that it has something to do with politics. That is true, of course, and whenever I repeat Ali’s poem to anyone because I find it beautiful in an annoying, CompLit-student way, I think of that. But I also always think of Hadley and Maxwell.
I don’t know anybody else who manages to somehow unite being-one and being-two quite as well as Hadley and Maxwell do. If anybody were to ask me about them, the first thing I would stress is that they’re too very different people. For example: If Hadley finds something funny, it makes her giggle silently. Max either laughs out loud or not at all. With Max, I can have an incredibly silly conversation about the most serious, brainwreckingly philosophical idea. Hadley, on the other hand, has sent me the most thoughtful and, sorry, deep emails about some funny, mindless Unterhaltungsliteratur I recommended to her. And yet, I have never met any two people who I think of more as a unit. I have never met any two people who naturally show up anywhere only as a pair. I have never met any other pair of people who is so connected that both rarely have to use their last name, because it is usually replaced by either “and Hadley” or “and Maxwell.” If I know anybody for whom “me” always rhymes with “we,” it’s Hadley. And it’s Maxwell.
The way Hadley and Maxwell work as people, I think, is very much the way they work as artists. If you see their art often enough and talk to them about it, you can begin to make out the parts that somehow feel Max-like or more Hadley-esque. But in the end, when they are done casting a whole mess of sculptures in blackened tinfoil and re-assembling them into ethereal, ghostly bric-a-bracs, you can see that what they did could only have been done together. The reason why these artworks end up balancing so elegantly between polar opposites (between sculpture and collage, between politics and abstraction) is because Hadley and Maxwell spent hours or days or months pushing them back and forth between each other. And the reason why that balance works and never falls over to one side or the other is that they always push their work back and forth until the only way out for it is right in the middle.

People

When I lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, it seemed like everyone loved the town except for me. Then I met Nasia, and discovered someone who didn’t just share my ambivalence about Ann Arbor, but helped me find words for it. We railed against the franchise aesthetic, the poorly named restaurants (Sushi.come?!), and my roommate’s misogynist, frankly racist rhetoric. But one thing I admired deeply in Nasia was the way that her ability to probe why something sucked was matched by her ability to articulate why something worked, what made it transcendent, from a bite of roasted root vegetables to a passage from Amitav Ghosh. As a literary critic (she’s finishing her PhD in Comparative Literature at UCLA) this is an all-too-rare trait. Most writers and academics lack the courage and heart to be as fiercely praising as they are scathing. Nasia is rigorous and brilliant in both modes.
Plus she is one of the funniest people I know.
Now that I’m in Berlin and Nasia is in LA, we’re a lot happier with our respective adopted cities, but I still rely on her to help me find words for what’s going on in the world, whether we’re discussing Edith Wharton, German snacks, or writing habits. She has a steadying and stirring presence, both on and off the page. I’m so pleased to welcome her to 60 Pages.

Sissi Tax
People

Sissi Tax ist eine Anarchistin des Alltags, eine Anarchistin der Zeit, und vor allem eine Anarchistin der Sprache. Von den Machtverhältnissen des Marktes lässt sie sich nicht selbstentfremden, das Konzept der Generation lehnt sie ab, die Herrschaft der Sprache vermag ihr Denken nicht zu beugen. Sie ist Schriftstellerin; unverkennbar ihr Ton. Tax denken heißt von Klang zu Bedeutung zu Klang zu Bedeutung zu wandern, um zu Sinn zu kommen. Tax liebt Kino und Kritik. Das zeigt sich auch im Schreiben. Dem Terror der Bilder wird die Skepsis der Sprache an die Seite gestellt:
Eine Anekdote aus der Paris Bar, das erweiterte Wohnzimmer von Sissi Tax, erzählt mehr, als alles, was hier sonst noch an Überbau auf dem Taxgestell zu finden wär. Vor einiger Zeit war das schon, ein Abend, vier Frauen, Sissi, zwei Freundinnen von uns und ich: „Meine Großmutter“, erzählt die eine, „möchte anonym begraben werden, an der gleichen Stelle, wie viele ihrer Freunde. Das nimmt jetzt zu.“ „In einem Waldfriedhof?“ fragt Sissi Tax. „Nein, ein normaler Friedhof, dort in einer Ecke.“ „Ein Aschenmassengrab also.“ „Ja so kann man das nennen…“ „Ein wunderbares Wort. Also wundert Euch nicht, wenn dann irgendwann ein Text von mir mit Aschenmassengrab beginnt.“ Ich sage: „Aschenmassengrab. Paul Celan wäre sehr stolz darauf gewesen, dieses Wort erdacht zu haben.“ Sissi: „Wer?“ Ich: „Paul Celan.“ Sissi: „Ach Paul Celan. Ich versteh das ja immer nicht, wenn die Deutschen das aussprechen. Wir sagen ja Cëlan und nicht Celān.“ Ich: „So wie ihr Mathemātik sagt, und nicht Mathematīk. Ich les mir diese Aussprache ja aktiv an, wenn ich österreichisches Deutsch verstehen will.“ Sissi, nach einer kurzen Pause, kehrt zum Aschenmassengrab zurück: „Die unendlichen Möglichkeiten der deutschen Sprache durch die Komposita. Man könnte die Entropie von Pynchon im Deutschen bis ins Letzte treiben.“ Die eine: „Wir würden am Ende beim Aussprechen eines einzigen Wortes landen. Und es braucht ein ganzes Leben, um es zu sagen.“ Ich: „Was für ein schöner Gedanke. Was für ein wunderschöner Gedanke.“ Sissi: „Wart, ich setz noch einen drauf: Aschenmassengrabstättensteininschrift. Anne das musst du festhalten.“ Ich: „Das kannst Du nur sagen in deiner Funktion als Erste Vorsitzende des Köflacher Vereins zur Rettung des Umlauts, in dem ich bekanntermaßen seit einem Jahr Mitglied bin.“ Die eine: „Was ist das denn für ein Verein?“ „Dieser Verein wurde vor einigen Jahren gegründet – von mir. Und zwar als mir aufgefallen ist, dass durch die Computerisierung der Welt der Umlaut nach und nach verschwindet. Und es hat sich ja auch vollends bestätigt. Schau Dir doch mal die Emailadressen an, von allen Menschen, die einen Umlaut in ihrem Nachnamen tragen.“ Die eine: „Die armen Vögel.“ Die andere wirft ein: „Ich dachte immer, dass ein Freund von mir tatsächlich Maelzer heißt, und ich fand das so schön, drei Vokale, a,e,i. Aber dann stellte sich heraus, dass er sich als frankophoner Schweizer so sehr schämte, einen Umlaut im Namen zu tragen, dass er es umgeändert hat.“ Sissi: „Das ist definitiv ein klassischer Fall bei dem der Köflacher Verein zur Rettung des Umlauts aktiv werden müsste.“
Sissi Tax ist, um es in steirisch-jiddisch zu sagen: a Mensch, einer der denkt.

Eva Wilson
People

The thing with Eva is, you wouldn’t know it to look at her – whatever exactly it is. Tall. Shy (but not as shy as her little brother Jack). A researcher and a curator (even if these days that is a dirty word).

Born in London, EW now claims Berlin (and sometimes Vienna) as her own. You could compare her to a summer’s day but if I was going to compare her to something, it would be the branch of a tree that you try and snap off as you pass by, which turns out to be so fresh and green inside, and strong, that it won’t break no matter how much you pull it.

She has informed me to mention her webbed toes, “for forensic evidence”.

Brittani Sonnenberg
People

I first met Brittani Sonnenberg in 2081. In the stuffy dark attic under the roof of the Kunst-Werke in Berlin she was reading a text on retro-future for Georg’s and Christopher’s congress “What happened in 2081?” while downstairs other members of the gang were collecting an archaeology of what was to come (little did we know).

Brittani used to play basketball with the guys like a boss but never allowed me to come and cheer. She sometimes speaks with a Southern drawl, and sometimes, speaking English, she slips into German and unconsciously invents new idioms which have their origin and place somewhere in between languages. She also speaks Mandarin, sort of. Brittani is at home in many places, she was born in Hamburg and has lived in Philadelphia, London, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Shanghai, Singapore, Boston, Phnom Penh, Ann Arbor and now Berlin. She informed me that she graduated from high school in Singapore, “so that’s where the ‘growing up’ part stops.” We have had many conversations about growing up, about home, about being foreign, and about our dystopian visions of our futures with cute little Neo-Mormons running all over the hologram lawn (her words). She is, as you can see, a writer. Her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in The O’Henry Prize Stories 2008, Asymptote, Ploughshares, Time Magazine, as part of the Berlin Stories and elsewhere. I am incredibly curious about her novel Home Leave which is going to be published in 2014.

Sometimes she looks like an Andy Warhol superstar.

Guru Singh, Yoga West und ich

by
Anne Philippi
24.03.14
60 min
Longread
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Every refugee knows

Emily Dische-Becker about what every refugee knows
04.04.14
2 min

Same Same no different

04.04.14
5 min

Guru Singh, Yoga West und ich

by
Anne Philippi
24.03.14
60 min