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The School of Music (13)

Igor Levit about the genius of Carlos Kleiber
04.11.13
1 min
Post

Der Größte. Die Art und Weise seines Musizierens suchen bis heute ihresgleichen. Er, der so selektiv vorging, nicht alles dirigierte, was auf seinem Pult landete. Aber was er berührte, das wurde zu mehr als nur zu Gold. Bis heute existiert kaum ein Dokument seines Schaffens, welches nicht den Status des Einmaligen genießt. Und wenn nicht unangreifbar in Fragen der Interpretation, so doch absolut unstrittig im Bezug auf die totale Kompromisslosigkeit eines Musikers vor allem sich selbst gegenüber. Um jeden Ton, jede Phrase und jeden Moment wird gerungen. Wer das nicht glaubt, nun ja, der sollte einfach nur die ersten fünf Sekunden dieser großartigen Dokumentation erleben. Eine Explosion, und Wagners Tristan sticht mitten ins Herz. Carlos Kleiber, 2004 leider zu früh verstorben.

Ayzit Bostan
People

There is something about Munich which might have gotten lost a bit in the last, say, ten years – with the onslaught of Berlin, with the draining of people, this constant trickle of creativity leaving a city which was once built on the very notion of Geist und Intelligenz, I dare say: Because apart from the very Bayerischkeit of Munich there was always a certain sensibility that was less counterculture and more mainstream in a good way, it did not flee and flourish on the margins, which can be easy, but that it wanted to achieve something and aim at the center of things, which might be harder. It was there and it was important, in the 1910s and 1920s with artists and writers like Kandinski und Mühsam and Feuchtwanger, this style, this spirit, this pride, and it should be there in the 2010s – a cosmopolitan casualness that might be best achieved in a smaller city like Munich, rather than in self-congratulatory Berlin, through a concentration on the new ideas, an eye for the international style, a daring, a focus, a network of good: Ayzit Bostan, for sure, would be in the middle of all of this. She is, in a way, an in-between kind of person, between fashion and art, between cultures, between fame and followers who are in love with all the things she designs, clothes, shoes, bags. She could live anywhere, she could work anywhere, and in a way I always have to remind myself that we are indeed in Munich when I go to her studio on Landwehrstraße, a place that has so little to do with this explosion of money that is Munich today, a strange combination of Porsches and Arabs coming for shopping or medicine and all these off-road crazy people heading to some mountain or another, constantly. I love Munich, don*t get me wrong, and this is why I love Ayzit. Munich could be like her, Munich should be like her. A proud and smart and creative place that does not constantly feel the need to position itself against Berlin. A place for a woman with Turkish roots who has this air of New York around her and a pleasant notion of knowing where we are heading. A citizen of the 21st century. Like Ayzit.

Fabian Wolff
People

Whenever I meet Fabian it’s like Vienna in the last days of World War I. I always arrive a bit too late at the coffee house, because he’s expecting that from me. There is always some sort of rage inside of him, even when he appears to be gentle. That’s not even an act, but his soul’s innermost desire: peace and stuff. But the rage is waiting in the backroom of his mind, ready to make a big entrance in the salon.
On Fridays I light his candles for him while making jokes about his French-Polish-Hamburg-Irish-Brazilian-Jewish roots.
So while we sit at the coffeehouse table, as it behooves us, he’s doing his “sad puppy eyes” thing. He’s haunted by caffeine and sugar, just like alcohol always found its way to Joseph Roth. And then we argue about Karl Kraus until we’ve finished our apfelstrudel with cream.
All of this is pure fabrication, of course. Actually whenever I’m Berlin we meet in the lobby of Hotel Adlon, very formal, like two strange spies in a John Le Carré novel. That is the truth.
Fabian Wolff hides behind the facade of a normal young man. He’s even publishing under that name: in the Jüdische Allgemeine, Intro or HEEB. He often listens to music by dead people or reads books by corpses or thinks about Natalie Wood. He’s probably working on a stand-up routine for the Christmas party of the staff of the Cinémathèque française. Mostly Tarkovsky puns I think.
Very inconspicuous – or at least we hope so. But still, he’s a spy at heart.

People

When you are over your Nietzsche obsession, leaving Sils-Maria behind, passing by Lake Sils, and reaching the Maloja pass, you will be finally able to see her. Maira. She flows west through the Val Bregaglia into Italy, sourcing Lake Como, and finally reaching the Mediterranean Sea. But she doesn’t stop there. Sometimes she flows to Berlin. Sometimes she has to play something in one of Georg’s and Bobby’s 80*81 productions. Sometimes it was working for DAS MAGAZIN. Her grandmother’s house in Zuoz must be a dream. If it was to start a new religion, it would be her name to name it. For the time being it’s Berlin. It’s Heimat. It’s Jippie Ja Ja Jippie Jippie Jaay.

Nikolai von Rosen
People

I knew Nikolai from a distance. He was part of the artist duo Future 7 with Florian Wojnar and Future 7 worked on the relation between collector and artist. With his great name and his great moustache I guessed Nikolai would spend his days in cafés reading Raymond Roussel and drinking Sherry all day. He seemed 27,4% Austrian and 27,4% Russian.
Some years later, when Future 7 had past, we met in Brazil with Arno Brandlhuber’s nomadic architecture class. We went from Sao Paulo by bus to Angra dos Reis, where the Germans had build an atomic plant between Rio and SP in the 1970s. A dark decade for Brazil while ruled by generals. The reactor Angra 1 is situated between the beach and a mountain, which tends to slip when it is raining. The Tupinamba Indians called it ‘Itaorna’, meaning ‘rotten stone’. At the time we were there Angra 3 was in prepartion, only the German money guarantee was missing. Even the great Lula da Silva wanted the second reactor. Our interventions however caused the obstruction of Angra 3 and all other projected nuclear plants in Brazil at least until 2030. (When We Were Good)
I still don’t know if Nikolai is or was studying at Arno’s class, doing his PhD or if he just comes along from time to time to these excursions. I know that he teaches in Zurich at the ETH with Karin Sander and I know that he is very active in Berlin when it comes to city planning––he even organizes some cool club of super smart architects. On the field trip to Brazil I got to know him as very clever and elegant and judicious, so maybe 0% Austrian, 0% Russian? And funny. And he has a lovely family.

PS: The only thing which made me slightly suspicious was––Nikolai is part of the Lichtenberg-Tower-4––that he doesn’t fancy the idea of a hill with goats between the towers. Too much of an image, too much of an artist’s idea, he said. He wants another tower built out of containers (see San Gimignano), which is nice. He wants projects, research and things like that. Okay. Even so Nikolai, with the hill you are already overruled.

Soohyun Chang
People

It was in the very last hours of the year 2010. Maybe eight hours to go. Year 2010? Was it a good year? What did you do? We were standing at the offspring of the artificial river Cheonggyecheon in Seoul. It was unbearably cold. Soohyun explained her native city to me. I tried to listen, but I was hardly breathing. Soohyun didn’t seem to care much about the cold. Then we met Sae, we went for some Samgetyang, chicken soup with rice. The old serving ladies laughed at us (laughed on us?), and we laughed back. And then we separated and the year had maybe four hours to go and I got lost in the night, in the cold, in Seoul. Soohyun tells you about her projects and the houses she is going to build and she connects you to all these people in Seoul and you try to absorb everything but fail, as she is bursting with energy and you are freezing. And then you meet her in Zurich, but Zurich was too small for her, so now it’s London. And you remember that the first time was in Basel. You were introduced by a common architect friend, and you realize how amazingly globalised the architect’s world is. Go to Cargo Bar in Basel on a Thursday night and it’s full of Herzog & de Meuron architects from all over the world and you are exotic because, yes, you actually were born in this small city. And Soohyun is all globalised, all Korean, all over the world, all energy.

Annika von Taube
People

I’m forced to write this text. The various headquarters of 60pages inform me on a regular basis that this text is missing. But it’s hard to write about a person that you have known more than 15 years but you lost track of several years ago – the last meeting in person was in 2010. That’s a clear view on me and my hermit behaviour, but doesn’t say anything about Annika. So I think she joined the big trail to Berlin in the nineties, first stop was Schipper & Krome (that’s where we met) and then according to some sentences she sent me she worked as a “gabelstaplerfahrerin, klavierlehrerin und chefredakteurin”. The gabelstapler experience might be the oldest one (pre Berlin?), the position as “chefredakteurin” was at sleek for several years and at the moment she is working as head of community at Die Zeit – online. She runs her own blog called Blitzkunst and if you follow her in images she seems to like to post her various working desks. Writing primarily in german is neither in relation to the name of her blog nor to the part-time autistic behaviour (she claims that in another sentence) it’s strictly based on her “pedanterie” which I mostly like but sometimes, really hate.

Jens-Christian Rabe
People

What is it about a voice? In writing, that is. A tone, a freshness, the originality of youth, a need to stick out, the impertinence of the newcomer. You read something and remember that you read it only after you read something like that again. Then you realize, there is a voice. You have to hear it twice, maybe more often, maybe much more often, before you figure that out. It has to become a memory to be discovered, rediscovered. And at the moment that I figured out that Christian’s voice was a voice I liked, he informed me that he had been hired by the Süddeutsche Zeitung where he now writes about music and thinking. I felt a little sad. I was working at Die Zeit at the time, as a literary editor, and I had given Christian some books to review and thought that it might be fun to work together for a while. See where he might be headed. And he just headed off. Did not need any advice I had never actually given him. This is how things go. I don’t remember how I noticed him which is probably unusual or not in that context, I don’t know, it was just that he was there all of a sudden and I liked that. But what is it in a voice, a voice like Christian’s for example? Do you have to recognize yourself to like it? Is there really always narcissism involved? Is it again about one self? Or is it about community? Or confusion? Do you like what you know? Or do you look for what surprises you? The foreign? The strange? The challenging? Is there a conformism of the like-minded? And why would that be a conformism? Is conformism the right word, at all? Writing, so goes the cliché, is self-expression. Which is not true. Who would be that self, anyway? Writing is a long process in which you either define the role better that you want to play, on paper, less so in life. Writing is trial and error and the words are the tools that you use for this experiment and at the same time the words themselves are the experiment. Writing is a way to challenge yourself because you know that you are not alone. The loneliness of the writer is a myth in that sense that he or she realizes always that there is a reader, that there will be a reader. What is the point of solitude then? Well, to think, to get things done. But the aim is understanding. Which comes from: Disagreement. So welcome, Christian, to this dissonant chorus of 60pages.

Xifan Yang
People

Xifan and I became friends in 2011 during a reporting trip in the Chinese countryside. I am a documentary photographer based in Shanghai, at that time we just started working on a story on the gender imbalance in China that got published later in Stern. Xifan and I were on the road in this dirt-poor backwater province and ran into a crazily determined women activist, more or less by coincidence. The guy took us on a tour in a broken VW Passat and lead us to our interviewees who lived in remote monasteries up some bamboo covered mountains. It was early December and zero degrees outside. The following days we slept in an unheated room in the back of the monastery, climbed the hills with the orphan girls we interviewed and tried to do our reporting as unnoticed by local government officials as possible. When we left our interviewees wanted us to take a living chicken as a farewell gift. That was the first of many trips we did in the past two years to rural areas in China. A lot of them involved long walks to villages cut off from roads, weird food (stewed fox, deep-fried grasshoppers) and situations where I as a white dude had to hide in the car while Xifan could roam around freely. (On the other hand, as a guy, I am always offered cigarettes and alcohol in China although I don’t even smoke and rarely drink. Xifan though, because she is a woman, never gets asked to drink and have cigarettes despite the fact that she smokes and drinks heavily. This might be the thing that annoys her most about working with a foreign male photographer in China.) Of course being a Chinese-born who grew up in Germany makes it easy for her to blend in in this country. But her strength as a journalist reporting on China does not come from the fact that she speaks the language and knows the culture. These are nothing more than fortunate circumstances – her real strength comes from her tenacity and curiosity. Granted, Xifan can spend days on end with dissidents in tea houses and not raise much unwanted attention but what sets her apart from most writers I know is that she will actually do it. Like the best journalists I have worked with, Xifan writes because she can’t help it. Because she feels the need to experience and understand people and their motivations and ultimately, because she wants to share what she sees.

Lichtenberg Tower Hole with a Used Gin and Tonic Cup

The Tower of Lichtenberg

Murat Suner about Gin and Tonic way East
22.10.13
1 min
Post

Dominique’s story about the FBI analyzing customer data collected by grocery stores in San Francisco in order to find traces of Iranian secret agents leads me to the question what a used Gin and Tonic cup on the tower of Lichtenberg could tell? 47 Monkeys, the Tower, a hole, Vietnamese grocery stores, 60people, a drone, Pakistani food, a broken Alfa Romeo, and across the street the former high security area of the Fahrbereitschaft of the SED Zentralkomittee with embedded contemporary art. A tricky one for the FBI.

The School of Music (13)

Igor Levit about the genius of Carlos Kleiber
04.11.13
1 min

The Tower of Lichtenberg

Murat Suner about Gin and Tonic way East
22.10.13
1 min