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Hanna Charag-Zuntz’s Levantine ceramics: dis:connecting objects through narratives

hanni geiger
[Editor's note: The adjective 'Islamic' was changed to 'Arab' for greater accuracy in a single instance on 11 September 2023.]
The ceramic works of Hanna Charag-Zuntz (1915—2007) in exhibitions throughout the world cannot be read in isolation from the nationally framed history of Israeli ceramics. The exhibition catalogues all address the creative and social connections between East and West in very different ways. Some exhibitions link the artist’s vases, pots and bottles to the themes of exile and imported European modernism as an influence on Israeli ceramics since the state was founded in 1948. This contrasts with exhibitions that link the objects as representatives of a new Jewish pottery (and identity) with archaeological finds in the Middle East and to the state’s demand for cultural assimilation and national stability. In the postmodern-oriented exhibitions, the works are presented as transcultural objects that distance themselves from the early Zionist premises of social unification, but the exhibitions’ frames hardly allow for any deviation. As different as the programmes might appear, exhibitions framed or funded by national and/or religious institutions tend to conflate Orient and Occident. Favouring a state identity based on connection, these exhibitions and their catalogues fail to problematise the complex, politically charged entanglements of East and West. By analysing three exhibitions and their catalogues with a local approach focused on the Levant, I decouple Charag-Zuntz’s ceramics, mainly created in the 1950s—70s, from national narrative patterns of abbreviated connections between East and West.[1] Drawing on Levantine cultural philosophy — a social concept linked to the Eastern Mediterranean — my aim is to reveal the artistic and social interruptions and absences that are usually blurred in nation-based frames. I work with the concept of dis:connectivity, which emphasises the simultaneity and dynamic co-constitution of integrative and disintegrative elements in globalisation processes, which only become relevant in relation to each other.[2] I argue that the vessels, which were made on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean, should be interpreted relative to a dis:connective body of water and its local cultures. This means reading the objects in connection to a Levantine Mediterranean — a reading that contradicts geopolitical narratives as presented in the catalogues and as known from theories of the Mediterranean.[3] Although these theories survey many definitions of this sea and recognise the significance of regional cultures and fragmentations, they all emphasise connectivity, which — whether conceived nationally or otherwise — ultimately produces a certain degree of temporal and spatial stability as well as homogeneity.[4] What remains absent in such representations is the predominantly North-Western perspective on the narrated Mediterranean and the structurally conditioned, asymmetrical relationship between the narrow ideas of the sea and its creators. Recontextualising these objects in terms of a ‘Levantine Sea’, which appears unifying and stable only in terms of its physical characteristics and is in fact socially marked by ambivalent connections that coincide with migration, unbounded and fluid identities, constant change and subversion,[5] would mean recognising these characteristics as intrinsic to Charag-Zuntz’s work. Relating the forms, colours, materials and techniques of her pieces to Mediterranean dis:connectivities could reveal past and present hegemonic structures that feign connectivity. In order to disrupt the nationally constructed narratives, it is necessary to allow for other perspectives and agencies. I analyse the formal properties of the ceramics through a contemporary Mediterranean lens and reveal what these objects communicate when read as creations not only of the artist, but also of the sea and its coast. Doing so yields insights as to what objects connected to a specific locality but that elude anti-territoriality can tell us about design and ultimately about society. It uncovers how objects that are materially and narratively immobilised in exhibitions but that are in a constant state of cultural performativity tell stories about heterogeneity and entanglements as well as discrimination and exclusion. It describes how the Mediterranean relates to the global North and West or Europe. And it demonstrates how dis:connective objects help to reframe the sea and contribute to thinking globalisation from the eastern and southern Mediterranean.
On becoming one: harmonising East-West disconnections
A photo from the online exhibition Ton in Ton. Jüdische Keramikerinnen aus Deutschland nach 1933 at the Jewish Museum Berlin in 2013 shows the young Charag-Zuntz in Siegfried Möller’s studio (fig. 01), where she apprenticed in pottery, before she fled to Palestine in 1940.[6] At the wheel, she is shaping an object with a narrow base and voluminous belly that tapers toward the opening. In its simplicity and progressiveness, the piece can be associated with the Bauhaus, to which Charag-Zuntz was indirectly exposed.[7]

Fig. 01: Hanna Charag-Zuntz, Stuttgart, 1936, family collection Hanna Charag-Zuntz (from: Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Ton in Ton. Jüdische Keramikerinnen aus Deutschland nach 1933, online exhibition, 2013, https://artsandculture.google.com/story/IQVBfUHgPN-sLA?hl=de).

The influence of exile, the design teachings from Germany and their imputed superiority over Middle Eastern material, techniques, forms and designs are evident in the text accompanying the exhibition.[8] In it, Michal Friedlander describes the confluence of the East and West in the foundation of Jewish craft, but at the same time allows for criticism of the inhospitable geographic environment and the limitations of indigenous Arab pottery. Although following a long tradition, and though early Israeli ceramic production also draws on the knowledge of Arab potters and collaboration with them, the text depicts ‘underdeveloped Palestine’, with its aridity and heat that prohibited Western glazes, tints and kilns, as an impediment to the establishment of serious ceramic art in Israel. Nevertheless, according to Friedlander, Charag-Zuntz succeeds in fusing European purism with Middle Eastern experiments with clay, resulting in a seemingly universal aesthetic. This creative connection of purportedly universal validity can be read as a reference to the social unity and stability to which the newly founded nation of Israel aspired. In fact, though, it was caught between cultures. This exhibition, like numerous others, effaces the tensions that attended the simultaneous selection and rejection of West and East in society and the arts. The exhibition Forms from Israel, sponsored by the Government of Israel in cooperation with the America-Israel Cultural Foundation & Crafts From Israel, and shown at the New York Museum of Contemporary Crafts, chose a different context for Charag- Zuntz’s objects as mediators among the cultures of Israel exactly a decade after its founding in 1948.[9] Under the heading Continuities, her works are flanked on the following page of the accompanying catalogue by a basalt bowl from the biblical site of Beersheba dating to 4000 BCE (fig. 02a + 02b).[10]

Fig. 02a: Hanna Charag-Zuntz, various ceramic vessels, undated.

 

Fig. 02b: Basalt bowl, Bersheeba, 4000 BCE
(© American Federation of Arts /
Courtesy American Craft Council
Library & Archives).

Despite a certain formal resemblance between the longer vessel shown here and the early pieces she had created in Germany (see fig. 01), the narratives about her objects in this exhibition, which celebrates the formation of Israeli identity, focus less on European modernity than on the archetypes of the territorially delimited landscape of the Middle East. The juxtaposition of contemporary Israeli handicrafts and purportedly Jewish-Canaanite archaeological finds in the catalogue is intended to emphasise the continuity of biblical Palestine and to restore its authenticity, which had been thought lost.[11] Additionally, the ‘renascence of a Hebrew civilisation’ is linguistically affirmed by employing the words ‘convergence’, ‘mixing’ and the ‘melting pot’ of carefully selected cultural elements.[12] This hybridisation of particular set pieces — traditional and contemporary — is noticeable in the juxtaposition of Turkish coffee sets, Arab drums, poster design and modern wooden toys. Charag-Zuntz’s work here is marshalled to reinforce a national ceramic tradition based in multicultural assimilation of excavated finds as markers of genuine Jewish culture and diverse immigrant cultures into the Middle Eastern landscape. What remains invisible, however, is a fusion restricted to selected art pieces, styles, elements and cultural groups.[13] As Rachel S. Harris argues, connecting with the new landscape economically and physically meant simultaneously remaining intellectually and socially distinct from the Middle Eastern ‘Other’. The catalogue erases the exclusion of any unreformed groups, namely Muslim communities, Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, that blurred identities and disrupted hybridisation. My next example is the 2018 exhibition in San Diego, entitled Israel. 70 Years of Craft and Design, that reckoned with the Zionists’ previously lauded notions of hybridisation. According to the catalogue’s authors: ‘[…] it did not result in forming the collective unified identity of the “New Jew” dreamt of by Israel’s first leaders. Instead the Israeli melting pot sizzled with a vast array of ideologies, vigorously contradicting and swiftly replacing one another but never cohering into one entity’.[14] The exhibition was a collaboration between the House of Israel, which professes emphatically to be ‘non-profit’, ‘non-political’ and ‘non-sectarian’ at the beginning of the catalogue, and the Mingei international Museum, whose programme is dedicated to the collection, preservation and exhibition of arts of daily life ‘from all eras and cultures of the world’.[15] Although the catalogue distances itself from Israel’s early policy of unification, the exhibition recalls Form from Israel. It includes a selection of diverse objects from different times and cultures that have shaped Israel. Traditional Bedouin textiles and Yemeni jewellery were shown alongside contemporary industrial products, furniture and ceramics, notably Charag-Zuntz’s.[16] In contrast to what the museum claims on its webpage, the objects do not ‘[…] speak for themselves — in line, form, and color — the universal language of art’.[17] Instead, they are contextualised by Smadar Samson’s introduction, who relates the multidisciplinarity and stylistic heterogeneity of the vessels to a pluralistic Israel, open to differences and deviations. But, by emphasising the connection of diverse creative set pieces within one object — without referring to social gaps, segregation and isolation — the objects are once again truncated as symbols of cultural reconciliation,[18] at which point we must return to the exhibition’s title. The artefacts are employed to commemorate the founding of a state that geopolitically subsumes its cultures, religions and languages under an all-encompassing category. The curators’ critique of Israel’s unity policy and the museum’s pacifist programme thus seem committed to an imaginary postmodern dissolution of artistic and social classifications that never manifests in (national) reality.
Levantine disruptions or detours to connection
The émigré and philosopher Vilém Flusser observed that ‘visual languages’ ‘[…] run across the boundaries of national languages […]’.[19] So what do Charag-Zuntz’s ceramics reveal when decoupled from geopolitical narratives? What happens when we focus instead on their formal properties from a local perspective that would, unlike previous exhibitions, view the Mediterranean as the objects’ co-designer? Upon moving to Haifa in 1943, Charag-Zuntz specialised in Terra Sigillata, an ancient Mediterranean technique.[20] In this process, the pieces are fired at high temperatures and usually obtain a shimmering red surface without glazing. This technique was practiced throughout the Mediterranean 2500 years ago and suggests that people and their products were moving across historical and political boundaries.[21] Nationally framed exhibitions mention Terra Sigillata in Charag- Zuntz’s work as one of her many design tools. These exhibitions invoke this technique to symbolise Israel’s unitary ideal of interconnected cultures. In the context of the philosophy of Levantinism, however, the objects’ core message changes. ‘Levantine’ stands for a diverse society of immigrants from different places in the Mediterranean, including descendants of Genoese and Venetian merchants and of Jews who fled to the Ottoman Empire from Spain since antiquity.[22] They are migrants, refugees and dissidents who mixed with other minorities in the coastal countries of the eastern Mediterranean: Christian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians and Jews. Marked by their place of arrival rather than their origins, even Jewish immigrants from North Africa and Arabic groups were called Levantines. They were branded as non-conformist, partly Eastern in the West and partly European in the East, subject neither to the colonial dictum of imitating the West nor to the later Israeli orientation towards Europe.[23] This diverse group of people were perceived as a threat to national identity and security, presumably because they were ‘not all of a piece’ and refusing to be ‘contained’ in geopolitical categories.[24] In their territorially and culturally indeterminate existence on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, as ‘cross-breeds’ despised by Israel’s early assimilating forces,[25] they de-stabilised territories and interrupted political narratives of connection. Prompted by the politically negated diaspora and the collective memory of Jews of European and Arab origins in the 1950s and 60s, Jaqueline Kahanoff dared to revitalise Levantinism as a social option for the young state.[26] In a 1959 article entitled Israel: Ambivalent Levantine, she called for a transcultural society that would include Arab and other minorities on an equal footing.[27] She referred to the absence of all the rejected, discriminated and geographically and socially excluded groups in slums, refugee camps of the Occupied Territories and marginal development town,[28] especially those marked by centuries of migration along the eastern Mediterranean coastline, which actually means half the population of Israel.[29] Linking Charag-Zuntz’s objects to the contested waters off Israel’s coast exposes ambiguities and tensions that are constitutive of social entanglements. It reveals constant change, disturbing expectations of rootedness that coincide with residence and indicating the simultaneous identification with and disavowal of both East and West. In short, it subverts spaces and disrupts singularities.[30] Also, the vessels narrated through this Mediterranean-Levantine lens disclose absences caused by the (neo-)colonial and imperialist programme of connections limited to selected decorative facets[31] of the Middle East that become equally evident in most exhibitions of Charag-Zuntz’s pieces. The narratively excluded elements of the cultural ‘Other’ remain invisible. Therefore, the works’ interruptions and absences in form and content demand interrogation. This becomes evident not only in Charag-Zuntz’s use of Terra Sigillata, which is a politically discarded symbol of cultural non-fixation and ambivalence in the eastern Mediterranean, but also through the ceramic’s shadings (fig. 03). Apart from the numerous reddish, yellow and brown objects, such as those in Forms from Israel, she also uses turquoise, blue and green nuances, which the exhibitions omit and fail to associate with the Oriental and Mediterranean ceramics known for these hues.[32]

Fig. 03: Hanna Charag-Zuntz, various ceramic vessels, late 1960s and 1970—’76s, image: Shay Ben Efraim (© The Benyamini Contemporary Ceramics Centre / © Shay Ben Efraim).

The absence of the ‘Other’ in design also becomes apparent in the objects’ material. Charag-Zuntz finds sand and brine for the firing process off the ‘impure’ coast of Israel and clay in the formerly Arab Negev Desert, since absorbed into Israel.[33] This becomes relevant considering that the ascendence of Israeli ceramics and their national promotion to the status of art rests on the allegorical creation of ‘Adam’ and ‘Adamah’, referring to Israeli society, which actually arose from local — most recently Muslim — earths.[34] The catalogues’ description of the vessels as predominantly ‘calm’, ‘clear’, ‘simple’, ‘balanced’ and ‘unifying’ is also disputable.[35] In contrast to the exhibitions, one could equally focus on the tension between the pots’ protruding bellies and narrow openings, which interrupts Israeli rhetoric of cultural harmonisation. The objects’ doubtful functionality, which is a product of this formal disparity, further reinforces the impression of disruption: as in design, so in society. The references some exhibitions make to ostensibly Jewish archaeological finds can also be disrupted. Round artefacts with shapes that merge almost seamlessly into the opening and elongated forms that expand in the middle are also found among Levantine cultures from Cyprus and Muslims from Syria and Palestine (fig. 04a + 04b).[36] Moreover, the horizontal lines are also a common design element in ancient Levantine ceramics.[37] Charag-Zuntz’s brushstrokes, interpreted as Japanese in some exhibitions,[38] exemplify such Levantine characteristics.

Fig. 04a:
Jar with geometric designs, Levantine, ca. 585 BCE, h. 10,2 cm, terracotta, The William D. and Jane Welsh Collection at Fordham University, (from: Barbara Cavaliere and Jennifer Udell, eds., Ancient Mediterranean Art. The William D. and Jane Welsh Collection at Fordham
University (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012), 334.)

Fig. 04b
Bottle with pouring spout for water transport, mid-4th millennium BCE, Habuba Kabira, Syria, clay, pottery wheel ceramics, h. 69 cm, Prähistorische Staatssammlung, München, inv. nr. 1985, 701; (from: Gisela Zahlhaas, Prähistorische Staatssammlung. Keramiken des Vorderen Orients im internationalen Keramik-Museum Weiden, collection catalogue, Weiden, Keramik-Museum, 1990, 65.)

Thus, if we consider Charag-Zuntz’s works to be shaped by the eastern Mediterranean, a double dis:connectivity emerges. First, the detachment of the vessels from national narratives and their simultaneous coupling with a Levantine local culture is a methodological dis:connectivity, which reveals absent maritime narratives. Second, these maritime narratives frame the pieces as products of complex connections that go along with interruptions and absences. They are bound to a specific location but subvert the ideas of a settled territory and singular religions, languages and identities; they perform culture without possessing it.[39] A ‘neither—nor’ supplants and interrupts the narrow national vision of a ‘both—and’.[40] Interpreting the objects through this local cultural lens exposes the politically constructed absences that the nationally framed narratives of the exhibitions manage to circumvent. Instead of connection, harmony, and stability, analysing the works through an expanded Levantine perspective unveils past and present hegemonic mechanisms that segregate and exclude unwanted groups. The objects testify to the multidimensional interconnections in a space whose natural characteristics seem stable, all-encompassing and unifying, but whose social and political changes connote instability. These pieces echo the understanding of globalisation Deleuze and Guattari described as ‘[…] an effect of the multitudes of forces that coalesce, concatenate, and collapse at local, provisional sites.’[41] In this light, the Mediterranean and the understanding of the ceramics produced along its shores are more complicated than most theories (and exhibitions) permit. By revealing the interruptions and absences — in research and society — dis:connected objects read in contemporary Levantine terms present an alternative to the simplistic rhetoric of national connectivity. Extending the point, this new perspective and the visualisation of excluded artefact narratives and groups can even reintroduce previously erased themes and agents in art and society. For the history of art, craft and design, regionally influenced approaches can complicate object-bound narratives by generating more creative, institutional and personal participation and contribute to non-hegemonic research and theorisation. Locally framed objects represent a detour to a social and artistic presence and inclusion that national narratives only imagine. By extension, dis:connective Mediterranean artefacts could interrupt the dominant Northern and Western narratives of the Mediterranean, de-nationalising its past for its future perception.[42] New (trans-)local perspectives, images, ideas and representations would help to reconceive the global impact of the Mediterranean and the discursive absences of the manifold influences, which it has always exerted on modern Europe and its identity. [1] According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term ‘narrative’ goes back to the postmodern philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, who used it 1979 in La condition postmoderne to refer to a crisis that for him heralded an era succeeding optimistic modernity, when the meta-narratives of the Enlightenment and Idealism had become implausible. Recognising and naming a narrative as such thus means distancing oneself from it. In the social sciences of the last three decades, the term ‘narrative’ stands for ’meaningful storytelling’: as regionally, culturally or nationally related narratives that are subject to change and are imbued with legitimacy. In my investigation, I refer to both concepts and use the term critically to denote how storytelling can influence the way the environment and thus art and design are perceived. In the following, the term relates to the creation of meaning in Charag-Zuntz’s objects in the context of nationally framed exhibition catalogues on the one hand and the cultural concept of ‘Levantinism’ — a sort of counternarrative to the catalogues — on the other. See: ‘Narrativ’, Duden, 2023, https://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Narrativ_Erzaehlung_Geschichte; Matthias Heine, ‘Hinz und Kunz schwafeln heutzutage vom “Narrativ”’, Die Welt, 13 November 2016, https://www.welt.de/debatte/kommentare/article159450529/Hinz-und-Kunz-schwafeln-heutzutage-vom-Narrativ.html; Wolfgang Seibel, ‘Hegemoniale Semantiken und radikale Gegennarrative. Beitrag zum Arbeitsgespräch des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Kollegs’, Uni Konstanz, 22 January 2009, https://www.exc16.uni-konstanz.de/fileadmin/all/downloads/veranstaltungen2009/Seibel-Heg-Semantiken-090122.pdf. [2] This concept was coined by the Käte Hamburger Research Centre global dis:connect, see: ‘Research’, global dis:connect, 2023, https://www.org/research/disconnectivity/. [3] Among the basic theories of the Mediterranean are: Fernand Braudel, La Méditerranée et le Monde méditerranéen à l’epoque de Philippe II (Paris: Armand Colin, 1949); Peregrin Horden and Nicholas Purcell, The Corrupting Sea. A Study of Mediterranean History (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000). [4] See Braudel’s study on how the geographical and cultural consistency and uniformity of the Mediterranean has affected humanity and our perception of the natural Connectivity — a concept later adapted by Horden and Purcell — plays a major role. Although the latter refer to the fragmented nature of the micro-regions, the natural disposition of a larger inland sea implies a bond and an exchange that ultimately ensures unity in diversity — which is once again elevated to the specificity of the Mediterranean. See: Braudel, La Méditerranée et le monde méditerranéen; Horden and Purcell, The Corrupting Sea; Mihran Dabag et al., ‘“New Horizons” der Mittelmeerforschung. Einleitung’, in New Horizons. Mediterranean Research in the 21st Century, eds. Mihran Dabag et al., Mittelmeerstudien, 10 (Paderborn: Fink/Schöningh, 2016). [5] Rachel S. Harris, ‘Israel. Finding the Levant within the Mediterranean’, review of The Place of the Mediterranean in Modern Israeli Identity by Alexandra Nocke, The Levantine Review, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 107-8. [6] Jüdisches Museum Berlin. Ton in Ton. Jüdische Keramikerinnen aus Deutschland nach 1933. Online exhibition 2013, Google Arts and Culture, 2013, https://artsandculture.google.com/story/IQVBfUHgPN-sLA?hl=de. [7] Even though Charag-Zuntz, like colleagues of hers, such as Hedwig Grossmann, had not attended the famous art school, she attests in an interview with Antje Soléau to growing up in ‘the artistic atmosphere of the Bauhaus’ and emphasises its tangible influence on the ceramic attitudes of the young ceramicists in Germany in the Cf.: Antje Soleáu, ‘Zwei Leben — Zwei Schicksale: Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein und Hanna Charag-Zuntz’, Neue Keramik, no. 1 (2016): 33. [8] For the following paragraph see: Michal Friedlander, ‘Vasen statt Milchflaschen — Eva Samuel, Hedwig Grossmann und Hanna Charag-Zuntz: Die Töpferpionierinnen in Palästina nach 1932’, in Avantgarde für den Jüdische Keramikerinnen in Deutschland 1919—1933. Marguerite Friedlaender- Wildenhain, Margarete Heymann-Marks, Eva Stricker-Zeisel, Berlin, Bröhan- Museum, 2013, 104–11. Exhibition catalogue, https://www.jmberlin.de/sites/default/files/katalogbeitrag_friedlander_0.pdf. [9] The Israel Institute of Industrial Design in consultation with The American Federation of Arts, eds., Forms from Israel, New York, Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York City, 1958–1960. Exhibition catalogue, https://digital.craftcouncil.org/digital/collection/p15785coll5/id/4735/rec/2. [10] Ibid., 44ff. [11] Friedlander, ‘Vasen statt Milchflaschen’, 108-9. On roots of Jewish pottery in ancient Canaanite finds, see: Gidon Ofrat, ‘The Beginnings of Israeli Ceramics’, Ariel 90 (1992): 79. The authors of the exhibition catalogues largely dismiss the influence of the ‘small’ and ‘little’ Arab pots, especially since they produced the porous earthenware disdained by German ceramists. Cf.: Soleáu, ‘Zwei Leben — Zwei Schicksale‘, 33. [12] The Israel Institute of Industrial Design et. al., Forms from Israel, 6-7. [13] For the following paragraph see: Harris, ‘Israel’, 106–11. [14] Samson Smadar, ‘Introduction’, in 70 Years of Craft and Design, Mingei International Museum, 2018—2021, ed. Jean Patterson, San Diego, House of Israel, 2018, 12-13. Exhibition catalogue. [15] Jean Patterson, ed., 70 Years of Craft and Design, San Diego, Mingei International Museum, 2018—2021, San Diego, House of Israel, 2018, exhibition catalogue. Mingei International Museum, ‘About: Mission and Vision,’ accessed 9 February 2023. https://mingei.org/about/mission. [16] Patterson, Israel, 92ff. [17] Mingei International Museum, ‘About’. [18] Patterson, Israel, 92-3. [19] Vilém Flusser, ‘Nationalsprachen’, in Von der Freiheit des Einsprüche gegen den Nationalismus (Hamburg: CEP Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 2013), 12. [20] The term dates to the 18th A name from antiquity is not certain. Cf.: Verena Hasenbach, ‘Terra Sigillata’, Historisches Lexikon, 31 December 2011, https://historisches-lexikon.li/Terra_sigillata. [21] Ofrat, ‘The Beginnings of Israeli Ceramics’, 87. [22] For the following paragraph, see: Eva Meyer and Eran Schaerf, ‘Kahanoff’s Levantinism: The Anachronic Possibilities of a Concept’, BAK, accessed 3 February 2022, https://www.bakonline.org/prospections/kahanoffs-levantinism-the-anachronic-possibilities-of-a-concept/. [23] Jaqueline Kahanoff, ‘Reflections of a Levantine Jew’, Jewish Frontier, April 1958, 7, cited in Meyer and Schaerf, ‘Kahanoff’s Levantinism’. [24] Meyer and Schaerf, ‘Kahanoff’s Levantinism’; Harris, ‘Israel’, 107-8. [25] Harris, ‘Israel’, 108. [26] Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff, ‘Ambivalent Levantine’, in Mongrels or Marvels: The Levantine Writings of Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff, Deborah A. Starr and Sasson Somekh (Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011), 193–212. [27] Ibid. [28] Karen Grumberg, Place and Ideology in Contemporary Hebrew Literature (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2010), 243, cited in Harris, ‘Israel’, 116. [29] Abraham B. Yehoshúa, ‘Beyond Folklore: The Identity of the Sephardic Jew’, Quaderns de La Mediterrània, no. 14 (2010), https://www.iemed.org/publication/beyond-folklore-the-identity-of-the-sephardic-jew-2/. [30] Ronit Matalon, The One Facing Us (New York: Metropolian Books, 1998), 214, cited in Harris, ‘Israel’, 116. [31] Harris, ‘Israel’, 107. [32] The objects were shown in an Israeli exhibition in 2019, which dealt with inter-generational dialogue among the artists. Cf.: Benyamini Contemporary Ceramics Centre, Type of a Dialogue — Hanna Charag-Zuntz, Michal Alon, exhibition, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, 2019, https://www.benyaminiceramics.org/en/ceramic-galleries/past-exhibitions/2019-2/type-if-a-dialogue/. [33] Ofrat, ‘The Beginnings of Israeli Ceramics’, 76. [34] From a quote by the ceramist Hedwig Grossmann-Lehmann on the beginnings of Israeli ceramics. Cf.: Maika Korfmacher, ‘Hanna Charag-Zuntz und Varda Yatom’, in Hanna Charag-Zuntz und Varda Yatom. Gefäße und Skulpturen aus Israel, ed. Bernd Hakenjos, Düsseldorf, Hetjens Museum, 1998, 6. Exhibition catalogue. [35] Ibid., 7, as well as Tadmor, Tova Berlinski. [36] For an overview of Levantine jars from the ancient Mediterranean region, see: Barbara Cavaliere and Jennifer Udell, eds., Ancient Mediterranean Art. The William D. and Jane Welsh Collection at Fordham University (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012). For Syrian or Palestinian traditional pottery, see: Gisela Zahlhaas, Prähistorische Staatssammlung. Keramiken des Vorderen Orients im internationalen Keramik-Museum Weiden, (1990). Collection catalogue; John Landgraf and Owen Rye, ‘Introduction’, in Palestinian Traditional Pottery. A Contribution to Palestinian Culture, eds. Elizabeth Burr et al. (Leuven/Paris/Bristol: Peeters, 2021), XXVII–XXX. [37] Cavaliere and Udell, Ancient Mediterranean Art, especially 334. [38] For example, in the exhibition 70 Years of Craft and Design. Cf.: Patterson, Israel, 92. [39] Gil Hochberg, ‘“Permanent Immigration”: Jacqueline Kahanoff, Ronit Matalon, and the Impetus of Levantinism’, Boundary 31, no. 2 (Summer 2004): 220–21, cited in Harris, ‘Israel’, 107. [40] Ibid. [41] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guttari, A thousand plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, First published 1980 by Éd. de Minuit, Paris), cited in: Cavan Concannon and Lindsey A. Mazurek, ‘Introduction: A New Connectivity for the Twenty-First Century,’ in Across the Corrupting Sea: Post-Braudelian Approaches to the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean, eds. Cavan W. Concannon and Lindsey A. Mazurek (London: Routledge, 2016), 14. [42] Matthew D’Auria and Fernanda Gallo, ‘Introduction. Ideas of Europe and the (Modern) Mediterranean’, in Mediterranean Europe(s). Rethinking Europe from its Southern Shores, Matthew D’Auria and Fernanda Gallo (London/New York: Routledge, 2023).
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Benyamini Contemporary Ceramics Centre, Type of a Dialogue — Hanna Charag-Zuntz, Michal Alon. Exhibition, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, 2019. https://www.benyaminiceramics.org/en/ceramic-galleries/past-exhibitions/2019-2/type-if-a-dialogue/. Braudel, Fernand, La Méditerranée et le monde méditerranéen à l’epoque de Philippe II. Paris: Armand Colin, 1949. Cavaliere, Barbara and Jennifer Udell, eds. Ancient Mediterranean Art. The William D. and Jane Welsh Collection at Fordham University. New York: Fordham University Press, 2012. Concannon, Cavan, and Lindsey A. Mazurek, eds. Across the Corrupting Sea: Post-Braudelian Approaches to the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean. London: Routledge, 2016. Dabag, Mihran, Dieter Haller, Nikolas Jaspers and Achim Lichtenberger. ‘“New Horizons” der Mittelmeerforschung. Einleitung’. In New Horizons. Mediterranean Research in the 21st Century, edited by Mihran Dabag, Dieter Haller, Nikolas Jaspers, and Achim Lichtenberger, Mittelmeerstudien, 10. Paderborn: Fink/Schöningh, 2016. D’Auria, Matthew and Fernanda Gallo. ‘Introduction. Ideas of Europe and the (Modern) Mediterranean’. In Mediterranean Europe(s). Rethinking Europe from its Southern Shores, edited by Matthew D’Auria and Fernanda Gallo. London/New York: Routledge, 2023. Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guttari, A thousand plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987. First published 1980 by Éd. de Minuit, Paris). Duden. ‘Narrativ’, 2023. https://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Narrativ_Erzaehlung_Geschichte. Flusser, Vilém, ‘Nationalsprachen’. In Von der Freiheit des Migranten. Einsprüche gegen den Nationalismus, 11–14. Hamburg: CEP Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 2013. Friedlander, Michal, ‘Vasen statt Milchflaschen — Eva Samuel, Hedwig Grossmann and Hanna Charag-Zuntz: Die Töpferpionierinnen in Palästina Nach 1932’. In Avantgarde für den Alltag. Jüdische Keramikerinnen in Deutschland 1919—1933. Marguerite Friedlaender-Wildenhain, Margarete Heymann-Marks, Eva Stricker-Zeisel, 104–11. Berlin: Bröhan-Museum. Exhibition catalogue, https://www.jmberlin.de/sites/default/files/katalogbeitrag_friedlander_0.pdf. global dis:connect, ‘Research’, 2023. https://www.globaldisconnect.org/research/disconnectivity/. Google Arts and Culture, Jüdisches Museum Berlin. Ton in Ton. Jüdische Keramikerinnen aus Deutschland nach 1933, online exhibition, 2013. https://artsandculture.google.com/story/IQVBfUHgPN-sLA?hl=de. Grumberg, Karen, Place and Ideology in Contemporary Hebrew Literature. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2010. Harris, Rachel S., ‘Israel. Finding the Levant within the Mediterranean. Review of The Place of the Mediterranean in Modern Israeli Identity by Alexandra Nocke, The Levantine Review, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 106–17. Hasenbach, Verena, ‘Terra Sigillata’. Historisches Lexikon, 31 December 2011. https://historisches-lexikon.li/Terra_sigillata. Heine, Matthias, ‘Hinz und Kunz schwafeln heutzutage vom “Narrativ”’. Die Welt, 13 November 2016. https://www.welt.de/debatte/kommentare/article159450529/Hinz-und-Kunz-schwafeln-heutzutage-vom-Narrativ.html. Hochberg, Gil, ‘“Permanent Immigration”: Jacqueline Kahanoff, Ronit Matalon, and the Impetus of Levantinism’. Boundary 31, no. 2 (Summer 2004): 219–43. Horden, Peregrin, and Nicholas Purcell. The Corrupting Sea. A Study of Mediterranean History. Oxford: Blackwell, 2000. Israel Institute of Industrial Design, The, in consultation with The American Federation of Arts, ed. Forms from Israel. New York: Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York City, 1958. Exhibition catalogue, https://digital.craftcouncil.org/digital/collection/p15785coll5/id/4735/rec/2. Kahanoff, Jacqueline Shohet, ‘Ambivalent Levantine’. In Mongrels or Marvels: The Levantine Writings of Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff, edited by Debora A. Starr and Sasson Somekh, 193–212. Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011. Kahanoff, Jaqueline, ‘Reflections of a Levantine Jew’. Jewish Frontier, April 1958. Korfmacher, Maika ‘Hanna Charag-Zuntz und Varda Yatom’, in Hanna Charag-Zuntz und Varda Yatom. Gefäße und Skulpturen aus Israel, edited by Bernd Hakenjos, 6–8. Düsseldorf, Hetjens Museum, 1998. Exhibition catalogue. Landgraf, John and Owen Rye, ‘Introduction’. In Palestinian Traditional Pottery. A Contribution to Palestinian Culture, edited by Elizabeth Burr, Jean- Baptiste Humbert, Owen Rye and Hamed Salem, XXVII–XXX. Leuven/Paris/ Bristol: Peeters, 2021. Matalon, Ronit, The One Facing Us. New York: Metropolian Books, 1998. Meyer, Eva and Eran Schaerf, ‘Kahanoff’s Levantinism: The Anachronic Possibilities of a Concept’. Prospections. Accessed 3 February 2022. https://www.bakonline.org/prospections/kahanoffs-levantinism-the-anachronic-possibilities-of-a-concept/. Ofrat, Gidon, ‘The Beginnings of Israeli Ceramics’. Ariel 90 (1992): 75–94. Patterson, Jean, Israel. 70 Years of Craft and Design, San Diego, Mingei International Museum, 2018—2021. San Diego: House of Israel, 2018. Exhibition catalogue. Seibel, Wolfgang. ‘Hegemoniale Semantiken und radikale Gegennarrative. Beitrag zum Arbeitsgespräch des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Kollegs Uni Konstanz.’ Konstanz, 2009. https://www.exc16.uni-konstanz.de/fileadmin/all/downloads/veranstaltungen2009/Seibel-Heg-Semantiken-090122.pdf. Smadar, Samson, ‘Introduction’. In Israel. 70 Years of Craft and Design. Mingei International Museum, 2018—2021, edited by Jean Patterson, San Diego, House of Israel, 2018. Exhibition catalogue. Soleáu, Antje, ‘Zwei Leben — Zwei Schicksale: Margarete Heymann- Loebenstein und Hanna Charag-Zuntz’. Neue Keramik, no. 1 (2016): 30–33. Yehoshúa, Abraham B. ‘Beyond Folklore: The Identity of the Sephardic Jew’. Quaderns de La Mediterrània, no. 14 (2010). Zahlhaas, Gisela, Prähistorische Staatssammlung. Keramiken des Vorderen Orients im internationalen Keramik-Museum Weiden. Collection Catalogue. Weiden: Keramik-Museum Weiden, 1990.
citation information:
Geiger, Hanni. ‘Hanna Charag-Zuntz’s Levantine Ceramics: Dis:Connecting Objects through Narratives’. Blog, Global Dis:Connect (blog), 2 May 2023. https://www.globaldisconnect.org/05/02/hanna-charag-zuntzs-levantine-ceramics-disconnecting-objects-through-narratives/.
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Haeckel’s corals: on the extraction, collection and circulation of scientific objects

[Editor's note: this essay is the first in a series on the topic of dis:connected objects, curated by our own Burcu Dogramaci, Hanni Geiger and alumna fellow Änne Söll. The series originated with the workshop on dis:connected objects held in June 2022 and will appear in a special issue of static in May. Enjoy.]
petra löffler
 
‘… scientific objects are elusive and hard-won.’ (Lorraine Daston)

Magical corals

When the natural scientist Ernst Haeckel visited the shores of the Red Sea in March 1873, a dream came true for him: to see ‘the magical coral reefs’[1] with his own eyes. However, he went not only to admire the beauty and diversity of the abundant coral species that have fascinated naturalists and artists since antiquity,[2] but also to extract samples of his own from the sea. Corals are polyps (animals) that live in symbiosis with certain algae (plants), which they shelter in their calciferous exoskeletons, receiving nutrients in return. They live in colonies building the reefs that house many small species. Corals first have to be disconnected from their natural habitat to become collectible and classifiable scientific objects.[3] My aim is to reconstruct the migration routes and transformations that the extracted corals had to undertake from their natural watery habitat in the shallows around the Sinai Peninsula to the dry natural history museums in Germany. As I will show, Haeckel’s corals have passed through all commonplaces of Western science: the field as a space of exploration, the laboratory as a space of manipulation, the museum as a space of presentation and the archive as a space of circulation.[4] In following their traces through inventory lists, correspondences and publications, I seek the ‘waves of action’ they are nevertheless able to release.[5] As collection items, each specimen has its own history and ‘biography’ of extraction and migration from their areas of origin to the natural-history collections and museum repositories in the global North.

Figure 1: Madrepora (Acropora) squarrosa, collected 1873 by Ernst Haeckel near El Tor, Phyletic Museum, Jena (photo: Bernhard Bock).

Today, Haeckel’s extensive collection of corals is distributed across various scientific institutions, such as Berlin’s Natural History Museum and Jena’s Phyletic Museum. While some samples are exhibited as showpieces (figure 1), the majority of the impressive stock of corals is stored in repositories and thus disentangled once again (figure 2). Seen in this light, ‘his’ corals are not only disconnected but undead objects that raise questions about the entanglements of Western natural science and colonial politics in their extraction and involuntary migration.

Figure 2 a & b: Phyletic Museum, Jena, repository of Haeckel’s coral specimens (photo: Bernhard Bock).

With his 1873 journey, Haeckel explicitly followed in the footsteps of the natural scientist Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg, who had already travelled to the Red Sea in 1832 and had taken up quarters in El Tor to study coral species in their natural habitat.[6] Haeckel returned to this village on the west coast of the Red Sea, which soon became a regional locus for coral research. In his travel report, published in 1875, Haeckel complains about the ‘many and great difficulties’ of his journey to the scarcely populated Sinai Peninsula, which was, at least in the culturally biased eyes of the Western traveller, ‘mostly inhabited only by poor, half-wild Muhammedans’. ‘One must bring tents, servants, food and drinking water oneself in order to exist there. Nor is there any regular steamship connection between Suez and these wretched coastal places’.[7] The alternative overland route through the Sinai desert seemed to him equally arduous and time-consuming and, as he notes, ‘the transport of the corals I wished to collect would have been very awkward on the camel’.[8] Fortunately, the German naturalist could do without camels and servants because he could use the existing modern infrastructure of the country, which officially belonged to the Ottoman Empire. In his report, he describes hardships that were not too severe for a wealthy Western traveller. Haeckel could comfortably travel from Cairo to Suez with the railroad that opened in 1857, and he reached El Tor on board of an Egyptian navy steamship. These newly built imperial travel and transport routes, including the Suez Canal that opened in 1869, played an important part in the consolidation of colonial power.

Extracting corals

Arriving in El Tor, the whole harbour appeared to Haeckel as ‘a charming coral garden’.[9] His report betrays how possessive he was of the local people, who built their houses and harbour facilities from dead stone corals: ‘Some of these wretched huts hold in a single wall a larger collection of beautiful coral blocks than can be found in many European museums. We would have loved to buy up the whole village, pack it up and send it home’.[10] This did not happen, however, because the zoologist was even more excited about the abundance of coral communities living in the reefs fringing the village. In order to extract them from their natural habitat, he relied on local fishermen, who provided boats and were experienced pearl divers. As Haeckel reports, ‘[t]hey were neither equipped with diving bells nor with scaphander or other diving apparatus; but they swam so excellently, could stay under water so long and knew so skilfully how to detach even larger corals from their points of attachment that they never resurfaced without surprising us with new splendid gifts of coral’.[11] I am not as concerned with Haeckel’s admiration for the skill of the local divers as with his remark on the magnificent corals as ‘splendid gifts’. As anthropologist Nicholas Thomas points out, gifts are always part of complex exchange relations, that is ‘a political process, one in which wider relationships are expressed and negotiated in a personal encounter’.[12] Moreover, Haeckel describes the coral extraction as a fabulously successful treasure hunt: ‘As soon as we have indicated the desired object to our divers, they jump down. [...] In a few hours our boats are filled with the most precious treasures’.[13] Not only does he claim ownership of the corals, he extends this notion to those who did the work, whom he unhesitatingly refers to as ‘our divers’. In Haeckel’s rationalist Western worldview, the evocation of nature’s wealth is the prerequisite of the ability to freely take possession of it. Claims of ownership overlap with ideas of the assumed superiority of Western economy, culture and science that are entangled with regimes of coloniality.[14] Haeckel’s journey stood under the protection of the Egyptian regime, which also ruled over the Greek-Arab population of the Sinai. His travel report is dedicated to the Ottoman ruler Ismail Pasha for good reason. As a Western scientist, Haeckel undoubtedly profited from colonial power, even though he explicitly acknowledged the valuable support and hospitality of the local fishermen of El Tor.[15]

Collecting corals

Corals are a promising research object for the art-loving zoologist because of their immense diversity and their special way of living in colonies.[16] The title page of Arabische Korallen (Arabian Corals), designed by Haeckel himself, gives an impression of the richness of forms of these so-called anthozoans or floral animals (figure 3). His admiration for these diverse species was partly ignited by their metabolism (each individual polyp has a stomach and is therefore a person in a strictly biological sense) and because these coral persons settle in large colonies on submarine rocks.

Figure 3: Ernst Heackel: Kalkgerüste toter Korallen von Tur (Calcareous scaffolds of dead corals from El Tor), Arabian Corals, 1875, plate II (scan: Petra Löffler).

Haeckel, who promoted Darwin’s theory of evolution and shared with the English naturalist his admiration for corals as reef architects,[17] coined the term ‘ecology’.[18] He became especially interested in coral communities as habitats for various other small marine species that perform a kind of ‘social democracy’.[19] With this metaphor, corals enter the realm of politics and become a model for a civil society with equal members. At the same time, these coral communities reminded Haeckel of a miniature ‘zoological museum’.[20] Exactly this last notion turns living corals into a scientific object even before their extraction. The illustrations in Haeckel’s travelogue represent the richness of forms and the specific morphology of corals (figure 4). What is particularly revealing, however, is how he transformed them into scientific objects and proceeded as a collector. To transport the removed coral specimen, Haeckel already made extensive arrangements before his arrival in El Tor and ordered a great quantity of wooden boxes and big glass jars. The transportation of marine species required special practices, logistics and knowledge of their needs.[21] The fact that in the end only twelve boxes with both wet and dry specimens arrived in his hometown of Jena, as he noted with regret,[22] shows the scale of his ambition as a collector.

Figure 4: Ernst Heackel: Arabische Korallen (Arabian Corals), 1875, title page (scan: Petra Löffler).

Naturalists can prove themselves experts by collecting specific specimens and identifying new species. The zoologist Carl Benjamin Klunzinger, for instance, who also travelled to El Tor, praised professional collecting as a serious scientific activity. He documented his collecting activities in Bilder aus Oberägypten, der Wüste und dem Rothen Meere (Images from Upper Egypt, the Desert and the Red Sea), published in 1877 with 22 drawings. Extensive collecting of specimens was primarily intended to benefit scientific teaching and object lessons. But corals die quickly in the air and lose their colour. To depict their diverse forms and vivid colours, the explorer and painter Eugen Baron Ransonnet-Villez developed a special diving apparatus and made underwater drawings on site. Nevertheless, the colourful depictions of reef colonies that adorn the publications of Ransonnet-Villez (1863) and Haeckel are idealised images that underline the necessity of visual representations to advance scientific knowledge (figure 5).[23]

Figure 5: Eugen Baron Ransonnet-Villez: Reise von Kairo nach Tor zu den Korallenbänken des rothen Meeres (Journey from Cairo to Tor to the Coral Banks of the Red Sea), 1863, plate I.

Regimes of circulation

What did Haeckel do in Jena, where he had held a professorship in zoology since 1865, with all the corals he had appropriated? His collection was initially used for the morphological classification of a phylum whose diversity he had always admired. Some particularly splendid specimens became showpieces in his Villa Medusa. Some are also currently exhibited in the Haeckel Museum in Jena. Others ended up in the Phyletic Museum, which Haeckel founded in 1908. There, 128 coral specimens are still kept, among them 25 from El Tor.[24] He gave other pieces to the Natural History Museum in Berlin, which opened in 1889. Thereupon a lively correspondence began between the natural scientists, in which the exchange of collection objects was a recurring topic. On 25 November 1897, for instance, Karl Möbius, the director of its zoological collections at the time, thanked Haeckel in a short letter for sending corals and jellyfish to Berlin. Many such letters that Haeckel wrote contain long lists of the specimens exchanged and testify to the great interest in their circulation (figure 6). To this day, Haeckel’s corals from El Tor are kept in the archive cabinet 98/93 at the Natural History Museum.[25]

Figure 6: List of marine invertebrates’ specimens given to Ernst Haeckel by the Berlin Museum of Natural History in exchange with coral specimens (Letter from 10/17/1897 with a note by Karl Möbius from 10/18/1897) (source: Berlin Museum of Natural History)

In order to demonstrate the political significance of the natural sciences, large natural-history collections were important prestige projects for the newly founded scientific institutions, such as the afore mentioned Berlin Museum of Natural History or the Phyletic Museum in Jena. [26] These collections were intended to illustrate nature’s diversity and general order in detail. In short, they served to open the great book of nature and make it scientifically readable. To present the taxonomic order of species, it seemed necessary for biologists to collect as many specimens as possible and to exchange them with other researchers, even if this exchange dissolved the original collection. Haeckel’s collection is only recognisable today through inventory lists. As natural-history objects disconnected from their natural habitat, these specimens only attain scientific significance within the taxonomic scheme as developed by Carl Linné in the 18th century, which remained the prevailing mode of ordering biological objects until the end of the 19th century.[27] Showcases in natural history museums and the storage system in their repositories still represent this Western ‘order of things’. In addition, museum displays try to reanimate the vivid natural habitat of coral reefs by creating dioramas or VR experiences for their visitors even today. In times of anthropogenic climate change, however, coral reefs are suffering from the heating and acidification of the ocean and will soon be extinct, many marine scientists suspect.[28] The discovery of new species and variants has been a crucial task in biology as a discipline of Western science for hundreds of years and was, as I have demonstrated, intricately connected to colonial claims. Now marine biologists search for corals that are more resistant to global warming and its effects and to extract them from their marine habitats to breed new species. Calling the invention of corals in the laboratory – in Darwin’s footsteps – ‘assisted evolution’, they involuntary add a new chapter to the marginalised colonial history of the natural sciences.[29] [1] Ernst Haeckel, Arabische Korallen (Berlin: Verlag von G. Reimer, 1875), 23, All translations from Haeckel’s Arabische Korallen (Arabian Corals) are by the author. [2] Marion Endt-Jones, Coral: Something Rich and Strange (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013). [3] On the making of scientific objects and their biographies, see: Igor Kopytoff, ‘The Cultural Biography of Things: Commoditization as Process’, in The Social Life of Things. Commodities in Cultural Perspective, ed. Arjun Appadurai (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge), 64–91 and ; Lorraine Daston, ed., Biographies of Scientific Objects (Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2000). [4] See: David Livingstone, Putting Science in Place: Geographies of Scientific Knowledge (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003). [5] I draw here on Bruno Latour’s claim that living and non-living entities are entangled in networks and able to act: Bruno Latour, Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017), 101; See also: Bruno Latour, Pandora’s Hope: Essays in the Reality of Science Studies (Cambridge/London: Harvard University Press, 1999). [6] Ehrenberg published his findings on the coral reef communities of the Red Sea in 1834. At the same time, from 1832 to 1836, Charles Darwin made his circumnavigation on the HMS Beagle and researched the formation and distribution of coral reefs around the world, see: Charles Darwin, The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs: Being the First Part of the Geology of the Voyage of the Beagle (1832-1836) (London: Smith, Elder & Co, 1842); He also collected coral specimens as evidence for his hypothesis of how the different reef types formed. They are now in the holdings of the Natural History Museum in London, see: Hayley Dunning, ‘Charles Darwin’s Coral Conundrum’, Natural History Museum, 23 January 2023, https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/charles-darwin-coral-conundrum.html. [7] Haeckel, Arabische Korallen, 23–24. [8] Haeckel, 24. [9] Haeckel, 29. [10] Haeckel, 30. [11] Haeckel, 30. [12] Nicholas Thomas, Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture, and Colonialism in the Pacific (Cambridge/London: Havard University Press, 1991), 7. [13] Haeckel, Arabische Korallen, 31. [14] Walter D. Mignolo defines coloniality as ‘the underlying logic of the foundation and unfolding of Western civilization from the Renaissance to today of which historical colonialisms have been a constitutive, although down-played, dimension’: Walter D. Mignolo, The Darker Side of Western Modernity. Global Futures, Decolonial Options (Durham/London: Duke University Press, 2011), 2. [15] In the 1880s, marine biologist Johannes Walther visited El Tor again to undertake a survey on the geological formation of the fringing-reef-rich Red Sea. From Suez, he took the route through the desert with camels. In his report, Walther thanked the German ‘consulate agent’ in El Tor, Hannén, and his sons for their assistance with coral diving: Johannes Walther, Die Korallenriffe Der Sinaihalbinsel: Geologische Und Biologische Betrachtungen (Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1888), 471. [16] At the time of the publication of Arabian Corals, ‘more than one thousand different living coral species, and the fossilised skeletons of more than three thousand extinct species’ were already known: Haeckel, Arabische Korallen, 3. [17] On the discovery of the reef-building activity of corals in the 18th century by explorers such as Johann Reinhold Forster or Louis-Antoine Bougainville, see: Alistair Sponsel, ‘From Cook to Cousteau: The Many Lives of Coral Reefs’, in Fluid Frontiers: New Currents in Marine Environmental History, ed. John R. Gillis and Franziska Torma (Cambridge: The White Horse Press, 2015), 137–61. [18] In his Generelle Morphologie der Organismen (General Morphology of Organisms), Haeckel defines ecology as ‘the general science of the interdependence among organisms’: Ernst Haeckel, Generelle Morphologie Der Organismen: Allgemeine Grundzüge Der Organischen Formenwissenschaft, Mechanisch Begründet Durch Die von Charles Darwin Reformirte Descendenztheorie, Vol. II: Allgemeine Entwickelungsgeschichte der Organismen (Verlag von G. Reimer, 1866), 236, Authors Translation. [19] Haeckel, Arabische Korallen, 20. [20] Haeckel, 20,35. [21] See: Mareiken Vennen, Das Aquarium: Praktiken, Techniken Und Medien Der Wissensproduktion (1840 – 1910) (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2018), 235–63. [22] Haeckel, Arabische Korallen, 35. [23] For a deeper understanding of the importance of visual representations in Haeckel’s work, see: Olaf Breidbach, Ernst Haeckel. Bildwelten Der Natur. (Munich/Berlin/London/New York: Prestel, 2006), 187–94. [24] For information on coral specimens in the Jena Phyletic Museum collected by Haeckel at the Red Sea coast, I thank the preparator Bernhard L. Bock, who also provided photographs. [25] For this information I thank the curator of the marine invertebrates collection, Carsten Lüter, and the research assistant Fiona Möhrle for providing the exchange of letters. [26] See: Susanne Köstering, Natur Zum Anschauen: Das Naturkundemuseum Des Deutschen Kaiserreichs 1871-1914 (Cologne/Weimar/Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2003); And: Carsten Kretschmann, Räume Öffnen Sich: Naturhistorische Museen Im Deutschland Des 19. Jahrhunderts (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 2006). [27] See: Kretschmann, Räume Öffnen Sich: Naturhistorische Museen Im Deutschland Des 19. Jahrhunderts, 92; Since the middle of the century aquariums and dioramas of watery environments became an attraction of many natural history museums and zoological gardens in the global North (and of wealthy homes in the case of the former) seeking to mimic the lively and colorful natural habitat of marine species and their ecology. See: Natascha Adamowsky, The Mysterious Science of the Sea, 1775-1943 (Abingdon/New York: Routledge, 2016); And Endt-Jones, Coral: Something Rich and Strange, 7–16. [28] See, for instance: J.E.N. Veron, Corals in Space and Time: Biogeography and Evolution of the Scleractinia. Ithaca; NY: Cornell University Press, 1995. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995); And Sean D. Connell and Gillanders Bronwyn, eds., Marine Ecology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), 328–49. [29] See: Petra Löffler, ‘Colonizing the Ocean: Coral Reef Histories in the Anthropocene’, in Earth and beyond in Tumultuous Times. A Critical Atlas of the Anthropocene, ed. Réka Patrícia Gál and Petra Löffler (Lüneburg: Meson Press, 2021), 185–213.
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Adamowsky, Natascha. The Mysterious Science of the Sea, 1775-1943. Abingdon/New York: Routledge, 2016. Breidbach, Olaf. Ernst Haeckel. Bildwelten Der Natur. Munich/Berlin/London/New York: Prestel, 2006. Connell, Sean D., and Gillanders Bronwyn, eds. Marine Ecology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. Darwin, Charles. The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs: Being the First Part of the Geology of the Voyage of the Beagle (1832-1836). London: Smith, Elder & Co, 1842. Daston, Lorraine, ed. Biographies of Scientific Objects. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2000. Dunning, Hayley. ‘Charles Darwin’s Coral Conundrum’. Natural History Museum, 23 January 2023. https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/charles-darwin-coral-conundrum.html. Endt-Jones, Marion. Coral: Something Rich and Strange. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013. Haeckel, Ernst. Arabische Korallen. Berlin: Verlag von G. Reimer, 1875. ———. Generelle Morphologie Der Organismen: Allgemeine Grundzüge Der Organischen Formenwissenschaft, Mechanisch Begründet Durch Die von Charles Darwin Reformirte Descendenztheorie. Vol. II: Allgemeine Entwickelungsgeschichte der Organismen. Verlag von G. Reimer, 1866. Kopytoff, Igor. ‘The Cultural Biography of Things: Commoditization as Process’. In The Social Life of Things. Commodities in Cultural Perspective, edited by Arjun Appadurai, 64–91. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Köstering, Susanne. Natur Zum Anschauen: Das Naturkundemuseum Des Deutschen Kaiserreichs 1871-1914. Cologne/Weimar/Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2003. Kretschmann, Carsten. Räume Öffnen Sich: Naturhistorische Museen Im Deutschland Des 19. Jahrhunderts. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 2006. Latour, Bruno. Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017. ———. Pandora’s Hope: Essays in the Reality of Science Studies. Cambridge/London: Harvard University Press, 1999. Livingstone, David. Putting Science in Place: Geographies of Scientific Knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003. Löffler, Petra. ‘Colonizing the Ocean: Coral Reef Histories in the Anthropocene’. In Earth and beyond in Tumultuous Times. A Critical Atlas of the Anthropocene, edited by Réka Patrícia Gál and Petra Löffler, 185–213. Lüneburg: Meson Press, 2021. Mignolo, Walter D. The Darker Side of Western Modernity. Global Futures, Decolonial Options. Durham/London: Duke University Press, 2011. Sponsel, Alistair. ‘From Cook to Cousteau: The Many Lives of Coral Reefs’. In Fluid Frontiers: New Currents in Marine Environmental History, edited by John R. Gillis and Franziska Torma, 137–61. Cambridge: The White Horse Press, 2015. Thomas, Nicholas. Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture, and Colonialism in the Pacific. Cambridge/London: Havard University Press, 1991. Vennen, Mareiken. Das Aquarium: Praktiken, Techniken Und Medien Der Wissensproduktion (1840 – 1910). Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2018. Veron, J.E.N. Corals in Space and Time: Biogeography and Evolution of the Scleractinia. Ithaca; NY: Cornell University Press, 1995. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995. Walther, Johannes. Die Korallenriffe Der Sinaihalbinsel: Geologische Und Biologische Betrachtungen. Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1888.
citation information:
Löffler, Petra. ‘Haeckel’s Corals: On the Extraction, Collection and Circulation of Scientific Objects’. Global Dis:Connect Blog (blog), 18 April 2023. https://www.globaldisconnect.org/04/18/haeckels-corals-on-the-extraction-collection-and-circulation-of-scientific-objects/.
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8 February 2023, Workshop: Istanbul on Display

On 8 February 2023, the Centre will hold a workshop centring on the representation of Istanbul in Germany through several exhibitions since 2000. The global curatorial and artistic narratives about artists from Turkey have resulted in several critiques of European representational strategies that are predominately centred on geographical, cultural and national identities. In consequence, an increasing number of critical artistic and curatorial practices have emerged that attempt to transcend and challenge the art world's reductionist, Eurocentric tendencies, such as casting doubt on conventional stereotypes of East vs. West and the construction of 'Other'. With global connectedness and disconnectedness as framing concepts, this workshop aims to explore the tensions that emerge from this dichotomy and how they relate to representations of Istanbul through several exhibitions in Germany since 2000. By exploring this context as a complex relationship of global interconnectivity, it aims to identify gaps, limitations and tensions in the globalisation processes of contemporary art from Turkey by considering the politics of art and exhibition politics in Europe. This workshop's main objective is to contribute to a decolonial discussion on the globalization of contemporary art from Turkey by focusing on exhibition strategies and artistic forms of resistance. This involves sharing knowledge to understand globalisation and its intricate structures from a variety of perspectives. The workshop is a forum for debate and dialogue, bringing together scholars, artists, and curators to further develop this research and share from their own areas of expertise.   Where and when: Munich, 8 February 2023, 9.00 - 18.30 Language: English Venue: Käte Hamburger Research Centre global dis:connect, Maria-Theresia-Str. 21, 81675 Munich   Click HERE to download the poster. Continue Reading

Infrastructures of musical globalisation, 1850–2000

23 to 25 June 2022, Historisches Kolleg, Munich
friedemann pestel & martin rempe
Infrastructures rarely come to mind when making or listening to music. This holds equally true for discovering or playing with unfamiliar sounds from different world regions. As an ephemeral and affective experience, music of whatever origin is difficult to capture, locate and pin down. And yet, without the emergence, development, transformation and deterioration of infrastructures, many musical experiences would have taken quite a different path – particularly at the transnational and global levels. Studying such infrastructures, broadly framed as material conditions as well as the explicit and implicit prerequisites of making music across borders since the 19th century, was at the heart of our workshop. Actors involved in musical life, both historical and present, have taken infrastructures such as places and institutions of musical performance for granted, be these public, private or anything in between. They only receive greater attention when they do not meet artistic, economic, political or public expectations. Hence, the presence, lack and transformations of infrastructures are inextricably intertwined with the production of musical culture. They present driving forces, counterforces and lateral forces of musical practices broadly speaking. It was the forms and means, the reach and functions and, ultimately, the dis:connectivities of infrastructures that prompted intense and controversial discussions among the workshop participants from Europe and North America.
Image: Martin Rempe
The papers covered an impressive geographical range with contributions on North and Latin America and the Caribbean, on a global Europe and a global Soviet Union, on Central Africa as well as on South and East Asia. Chronologically, we focused on the 19th and 20th centuries as a key period for both global history and the history of infrastructures. Likewise, the papers featured a great variety of musical genres, ranging from opera and classical music to jazz, Congolese rumba and Afrobeat as well as to Soviet pop music and so-called ‘traditional music’ of indigenous peoples. Finally, the spectrum of infrastructures was pushed to the extremes: transnational networks of theatre agents (Charlotte Bentley and Matteo Paoletti) served as infrastructures of musical dis:connectivity as well as international organisations like UNESCO (Anaïs Fléchet) and European and African collecting societies (Véronique Pouillard), music education institutions (Alexandre Bischofberger) and the music industry (Friedemann Pestel), pitch standardisation negotiations (Fanny Gribenski) and genre discourse (Thomas Irvine and Christopher Smith) and, last but not least, cultural ministries (Michel Abeßer) and national embassies (Zbigniew Wojnowski). This broad conceptualisation of infrastructures of musical dis:connectivity turned out to be very fruitful for the discussions since it provoked even more inventive ideas from the invited commentators about what else, in the context of music, could be framed as infrastructure: music itself as an infrastructure for human memory and everyday human life (Dirk van Laak); musical instruments as infrastructures of sound making (Jürgen Osterhammel); and the crucial question of how infrastructures in a narrow sense, such as electricity and the production of shellac played in the making of music (Oliver Janz) were among the most fascinating ones. Also, considerable thought was devoted to the conceptual boundaries of infrastructures and how they differ from structure(s) and networks. Roland Wenzlhuemer, in his keynote, drew our attention to the spatial dimension of infrastructures by highlighting the significance of – otherwise largely disconnected – peripheries for connectivity in communication. Additionally, from an anthropological viewpoint, the important difference between infrastructures as an emic category and an etic category was stressed (Christina Brauner). There was, however, no consensus about how much teleology comes into play when doing research on infrastructures: while some argued that path dependency is key to understanding infrastructures’ effectiveness (Heidi Tworek), others warned of normative assumptions about the latter. These and many more aspects of the relationship between infrastructures and making music across borders underline how useful the dialogue between music history and infrastructure research can be. Also highly inspiring were the discussions about the distinction between the established perspective of musical ‘institutions’ and the perspective of ‘infrastructures’ that might direct our attention to less articulated, less formalised settings of musical production. Several workshop participants emphasised the necessity of pluralising and de-Europeanising the idea of a musical globalisation. As the papers made evident, many musical globalisations have recurred since the mid-19th century with their own underlying infrastructures, mechanisms, geographies and limitations. Even within a single genre, such as European opera, the logics of circulation, appropriation and refusal differed considerably between the mid-19th century American South, which was driven by commercial motivations, and the countries of southern Latin America under the grip of fascist Italian diplomacy during the 1920s. Nonetheless, a retreat from European musical metropoles and a reorientation to emerging American centres, such as New York and Buenos Aires, was common to both Americas in the decades around 1900, as was also the case in the emergence of Cuban music conservatories, which took as much inspiration from there as from Europe. Wojnowski extended de-centring one step further by emphasising the strong Western bias in Eurocentric accounts. There is call to study Eastern European attempts to globalise ‘their’ musics as well, even though they largely failed, as his case study on Soviet musical diplomacy in the emerging Third World demonstrated. Whereas the commonplace of ‘musical connections’ is often taken for granted in music scholarship, the significantly greater challenge is to write about music that does not travel or, more precisely, music that is prevented from travelling. Though the lens of infrastructures cannot solve this problem, it can, at least, hint and highlight moments of musical dis:connectivity. A recent example mentioned at the workshop is the streaming platform ‘Forgotify’, which assembles millions of tracks and songs that are available on Spotify but have never been played. In a historical perspective, infrastructures like ‘Forgotify’ can direct our attention to other ‘hidden’ agents of musical dis:connectivity that have so far been understudied, such as collecting societies and international organisations. Likewise, the workshop revealed how little we know about the actual trajectories, interests, strategies and frictions related to seemingly global musical icons, be it the career of a conductor like Herbert von Karajan or an ostensibly unequivocal musical reference such as the pitch. The dialogue among the papers, commentators and the workshops’ discussants also helped to reveal what was lacking or underrepresented among the variety of phenomena, spaces and actors the workshop covered. For example, wars as particular moments of both musical dis:connectivity, infrastructural mobilisation and destruction did not loom large in the discussions. Likewise, explicit counterforces to musical globalisation remained in the background. Musical unions, which often acted as gatekeepers against foreign musicians and their musics, are an apt example. While the workshop has mapped the field and revealed many productive approaches to it, much more research on infrastructures of musical dis:connectivity is needed to better understand the many histories of musical globalisations.   Continue Reading

global dis:connect summer school 2022 – a connected view

david grillenberger
  From 2 to 5 of August 2022, 20 scholars – PhD students, organisers Anna Nübling & Nikolai Brandes and student assistants – gathered in Munich during a scorching heat wave for global dis:connect’s inaugural summer school. Our engaging discussions and presentations emitted as much energy as the sun itself. Titled Postcolonial interruptions? Decolonisation and global dis:connectivity, our very first summer school at global dis:connect focused on dis:connectivities in processes of decolonisation. The topic was apt, as decolonisation in itself is a very sudden (or sometimes very slow) interruption. It admits literal disconnects between former colonies and the empires that conquered them and simultaneously maintained connections to these empires. The process of decolonisation emphasises the colon in ‘dis:connectivity’ that, in this case, might represent the tension between independence and the continuation of relationships. After a (literally) warm welcome from co-director Prof. Christopher Balme and a get together in our garden on Tuesday (2. August), we gathered in global dis:connect’s library the next morning to hear the first master class by UCLA’s Ayala Levin. In her talk about Continuity vs. discontinuity from colonialism to postcolonialisms, Levin emphasised African actors’ agency, as, for example, when choosing Israel and China as partners for architectural projects. Both nations have framed themselves as former colonial subjects and ‘developing countries’ fit to help African nations’ ‘development’.
Ayala Levin's master class (Image: Annalena Labrenz & David Grillenberger)
Following Ayala’s master class and a short coffee break, Seung Hwan Ryu presented the first PhD project of the day, speaking on the relationship between North Korea and Tanzania. In his talk (Surviving the disconnection. North Korea’s social internationalism in Tanzania during the Cold War for a closer look, check out Seung Hwan’s post summarising the talk on our global dis:connect blog), Seung Hwan posed the question how North Korea was similar but different from other socialist globalisation projects. He emphasised ‘North Korea’s in-between geopolitical position’, between China and the USSR after the great disconnect that was the Sino-Soviet split. For some, Seung Hwan’s talk might have evoked memories of the fantastic Danish documentary The Mole, which features present-day North Korea and its dealings in Africa, which have attracted the UN’s attention in 2020. Next among the presentations was Lucas Rehnman, a Brazilian visual artist and curator, who presented his curatorial project. His project (Unfinished Museum of Peripheral Modernity) on postcolonial modernist architecture in Guinea-Bissau poses an interesting what-if question: what if Bissau-Guineans did not simply follow external influences in the context of ‘foreign aid’ and ‘technical cooperation’ but instead worked actively and creatively as architects, establishing an architectural legacy that deserves attention? After the lunch break, Adekunle Adeyemo presented his project on Israeli architect Arieh Sharon’s Obafemi Awolowo University Campus in Ile-Ife. Adekunle argued that the campus is a good example of modern architecture in Africa. He emphasised dis:connectivity when he argued that it was precisely the decolonial disconnect from the British empire that led Nigeria to look for new connections to Israel, as Ayala Levin also pointed out that morning. Adekunle framed the processes that led to Sharon’s designing the campus as a ‘Fanonian rupture’, as a crack in existing structures, which allows new things to fill the void. The last to present her project on our first full day together was Rahel Losier. Rahel spoke on the topic of ‘Sahrawi educational migration to Cuba from the 1970s to the present’. Chris Balme, one of the discussants, pointed out that the conflict in Western Sahara central to Rahel’s talk was one of our time’s ‘forgotten conflicts’ and that the relationship between Sahrawis and Cuba is a forgotten story. It is absent in history, one might say. And what could be more fitting than absences for the questions of global dis:connect? Rahel approached her research topic artistically as well and created a brilliantly unique comic out of the interviews she conducted for her project. The presentation of her first comic also initiated an interesting discussion on whether and how artistic practice could help to better formulate research questions. After an extended coffee break – much needed after engaging discussions and scholarly debates – Maurits van Bever Donker finished the day with a lecture, unintentionally representing the topic of ‘dis:connectivity’ in that he had to give his lecture remotely from South Africa. At 7:30 p.m., we all met for dinner and reflected on a long day of interesting projects and our new acquaintances. The next day, Thursday, 4 August, started with decolonisation and epistemology. First up was another master class, this time held by Prof. Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni of Bayreuth University. He focused on three meta-topics: epistemology, decolonisation and dis:connectivity. Sabelo emphasised especially how knowledge itself could also be colonised and – referring to Dipesh Chakrabaty – suggested provincialising Europe in an institutional sense too, meaning that Western universities must reflect on the relationship between knowledge and power and how non-Western universities can get a more equal footing in global science. The perfect follow-up to Sabelo’s talk was Tibelius Amutuhaire, who spoke on The realities of higher education decolonisation: possibilities and challenges to decolonise university education in East Africa. Tibelius noted that, in most African universities, continuing eurocentrism is apparent in the exclusive use of Western (often foreign) languages to disseminate knowledge. Although, as Tibelius argued, African universities should lead the decolonisation efforts. In his master class, Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni also referred to the role of peer-reviewed journals, of which the most prestigious are still located in the West. Tibelius’s takeaway was that one of the main problems today is the continuous re-education of ‘false’ knowledge. It was not only African countries and peoples who were subjected to colonialism, but also Asian countries like Pakistan, which was the focus of Talha Minas’ presentation. By focusing on the case study of Pakistan’s construction of its nationalist project, Talha discussed the theoretical and methodological challenges global history faces. He analysed the ‘master narrative’ of a Muslim claim to their own state in South Asia, especially in opposition to the British Empire. In the following discussion, gd:c co-director and one of this day’s discussants, Roland Wenzlhuemer argued that Talha’s topic could very well be a self-observational project that could tackle global history and its problems. The afternoon started with Hannah Goetze’s presentation. Her talk focused on weaving, whose own literal connectivity makes it all the more interesting from the perspective of disconnections. Hannah analysed two different subjects: Lubaina Himid’s artpiece cotton.com and Amalie Smith’s book Thread Ripper. Weaving, Hannah argued, is closely connected to the internet as well as history and the future of computers in both works. So, in a way, they are stories about networks, be they woven or digital. Up next was Flavia Elena Malusardi, whose research project aims to look at the cultural space Dar el Fan in Beirut and how women’s identities were shaped there between postcolonialism and cosmopolitanism. For example, the anti-establishment movements of the 1960s also resonated in Beirut and intersected with decolonisation and the Cold War. Founded in 1967 by Janine Rubeiz, Dar el Fan also promoted ideas of gender equality and visibility and offered women a space where they could enjoy extensive freedoms in an otherwise often still conservative society. The last of Thursday’s presentations focused on post-apartheid in South Africa. In his project, Brian Fulela analysed the novels of three different South African authors: K. Sello Duiker, Lgebetle Moele and Sifoso Mzobe. He examined the role and place of psychoanalysis in these novels and what psychoanalysis can bring to research on post-apartheid South Africa. Central to his project are feelings of trauma, loss and the subjectivity of post-apartheid, which are very much emotions and feelings of dis:connectivity. The next day, Friday, began at the Museum Fünf Kontinente in the centre of Munich. We were greeted by Stefan Eisenhofer and Karin Guggeis, who are responsible for the museum’s Africa and North America exhibitions. They showed us through the Africa exhibition and spoke on the difficulties of provenience research. Both also accompanied us back to global dis:connect to attend the remaining presentations.
The gd:c summer school takes a field trip to the Museum Fünf Kontinente. (Image: Annalena Labrenz & David Grillenberger)
The first presentation of the day came from Lucía Correa, who is researching the ethnographic collections of French-Swiss Anthropologist Alfred Metraux. Ethnographic museums, Lucía argues, were a new way of thinking about human history with an emphasis on material culture. Meanwhile, Latin America is in the process of deconstruction and working with native communities to decolonise museums and their collections, since the colonialist perspective that motivated the founding of ethnographic museums is no longer viable. Metraux considered his collections a way to ‘remember’ the indigenous populations, which he perceived to be rapidly disappearing as a result of Western expansion in the 1930s. It is easy to see how absences – one of the key concepts informing dis:connectivity – play an important role in Lucía’s research and the future of ethnographic museums in general. Next up was Claudia di Tosto’s talk on Austerity and muddled optimism: the impact of decolonisation on Britain’s participation at the 1948 Venice Biennale. Claudia spoke on the recontextualisation of Britain’s exhibition in the context of decolonisation after World War II. In her presentation, she focused on one case study, namely 1948 and two artists that were prominently featured at the exhibition: J.M.W. Turner – a 19th-century artist – and Henry Moore – a 20th-century artist and contemporary painter at the time of the Biennale. Claudia argued that Britain used its 1948 pavilion to project the image of a nation that was using humanism as a rhetorical tool to both cover the demise of the empire and still lay a claim of superiority over its former colonies. After our lunch break, Johanna Böttiger presented a very eloquently written essay in which she spoke on the topic of black dolls during the years of the Jim Crow laws in the USA. Children, argued Johanna, were an embodiment of coloniality and different stereotypes came with the colour of children’s skins – even in dolls, as black dolls were subjected to violence by white children. Certainly no child’s play, learned behavioural patterns like segregation or racism were also expressed in the form of children and dolls. The last presentation of our time together was testament to the breadth of backgrounds the participants brought with them. Franziska Fennert, a German artist living in Indonesia, presented her project Monumen Anthroposen as a film. The project consists of a ‘temple’, a monument complex, that is built in Indonesia and made from waste that is being transformed into a new product. Franziska’s aim was to redefine the relationship between humans, the planet and each other. In the long run, the ‘Anthropocene Monument’ should act as an infrastructure for upcycling that benefits its surrounding region. Franziska’s presentation concluded our time together in Munich – at least from a scholarly perspective – and heralded the beginning of a convivial get-together with some traditional Bavarian music, beer and Brezen (soft pretzels). The participants agreed that the concept of dis:connectivity informed their research, and their varied backgrounds made for an engaging discussion and a lot of valuable comments. It is almost staggering that a phenomenon such as decolonisation, which is so essentially dis:connective – the simultaneity of severing ties while still maintaining some and sometimes the stress they cause for the people involved – waited so long for the dis:connectivity treatment.
One, yet many (but not too many). (Image: Annalena Labrenz & David Grillenberger - the author in the back left with the snappy Hawaiian shirt)
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Looking back at global dis:connect’s first annual conference, 20-21 october 2022 (by hanni geiger & tom menger)

@Annalena Labrenz & David Grillenberger

The first annual conference of global dis:connect, entitled Dis:connectivity in processes of globalisation: theories, methodologies and explorations, took place in Munich on 20-21 October. As the title indicated, the conference aimed to ground the vast field of research on global dis:connectivity by probing what theories and methodologies might be fruitful. The conference sought to start the discussion rather than to formulate definitive answers, laying the groundwork for further reflections on these issues over the coming years in conversation with our current and future fellows at the centre. This international conference brought together different disciplines: historians, art historians, theatre scholars and others in conjunction with creative professionals from the arts, including architecture, design and theatre. The dialogue between theory and practice, each with its own distinctive approaches, induced productive friction. Artistic and philosophical approaches showed their potential to offer new modes of studying a phenomenon as complex as global dis:connectivity. The conference featured three panels: interruptions, absences and detours. The presentations revealed how researching these modes of dis:connectivity can mean very different things. Such research can mean asking about tradition and modernity and their relation to globalisation; it meant looking at the interplay of nationalism and globalisation in societies marked by stringent national, ethnic and religious demarcations; it meant searching for connections and disconnections simultaneously in such bounded contexts such as the global interactions of the Cold War era. Many papers also looked at how individuals negotiate global connections and disconnections in their own personal biographies, revealing the affective attributions, emotions and ideological influences that make globalisation processes significant in the first place. Such research also entails recovering the agents and groups that were effaced by later hegemonic narratives. Some participants even sought to understand experiences of  dis:connectivity beyond our conventional Western understandings of linear time and Euclidian space in ways that might enable more personalised modes of dealing with forced or trauma-induced immobility.

@Ben Kamis

Dis:connectivity is an expansive research object and always threatens to elude us. The papers and unconventional presentations of this conference emphasised both the need to refine the term and the extent to which unconventional methodologies and theories allow us to approach dis:connectivity. The complexity of globalisation processes that the conference sought to explore affect our present in dramatic ways. As was highlighted in the conference’s wrap-up, seeking to better understand this complexity can tangibly affect society. The original announcement and the full programme of the conference can be found here. Continue Reading

Mapping the wounds of the world: dis:connectivities of global representation at the 12th Berlin Biennale

ayşe güngör
  The title of this year's Berlin Biennale, Still Present!, reflected its objective to examine the consequences of the collective trauma caused by colonialism, structural violence and, more generally, the crimes of modern capitalism through a current perspective. Kader Attia, curator of the Biennale, and the curatorial team[1] expand on their approach, namely, to make the crimes of colonialism apparent through the agency of art. Repairing this trauma and the ‘wounds accumulated throughout the history of Western modernity’[2] – as Attia refers to it – the reparation process appears as both a question and a tool throughout the works presented in the Biennale. In this context, the Biennale's global artistic scope will be my focus, which connects as well as disconnects through a range of artistic approaches in its curatorial agenda. Throughout the course of the Biennale, the artistic and curatorial decisions were broadened with numerous decolonial perspectives from various regions, pluralising the global representation. Parallel to the ideas of Bilbao, ‘most discourses and narratives that account for the Biennale’s globality rely almost entirely on visibility’,[3] which is reflected in the curatorial agenda of the recent Berlin Biennale in terms of an approach to globalisation that accentuates unseen local issues in various regions. The issue at hand, as Ndikung points out, is:
Where is the local, especially in this postcolonial era and context, in the crafting of the concept of global museum? And this local cannot be simplified but analyzed in its complexity that goes beyond national or racial categories and that takes into consideration historical and geographical entanglements as much as geopolitical and social intricacies.[4]
Entanglements are occasionally emphasised in the framework of the Biennale, which emphasises broadening the perspectives it represents. This framework, which seeks to account for the ‘global’ by combining cases from diverse peripheries, also risks reducing a multifaceted globality to the dichotomies of ‘the West and the rest’ or ‘colonisers vs. colonised’. Recalling the part that situatedness plays in the logic of liberal capitalism, the general intention of global art discourse is to dissolve these dichotomies. As Jacob Birken addresses, the discourse ‘might not solve anything — just make [these dichotomies] easier to swallow’.[5] When examining the Biennale as a larger phenomenon, a pluralising strategy emerges as the prevailing tool to maintain its position in the global art world. Therefore, the Biennale is often taken as a microcosm of the globalisation of the arts. The curatorial approach of the recent Biennale reflects the general tendency to portray the globe, with its objective of interconnecting the stories of many cultural spheres. In this regard, the 2022 Berlin Biennale fits the general narrative of Biennale-making in a transcultural context, since it seeks to present a comprehensive picture of the globe by focusing on the shared meanings of those affected by oppression and violence. The globally interconnected histories reflected in the artworks navigate distinctive modalities of artistic production. Specifically, archival practices and the ‘field of emotions’ that Attia illustrates are a frequent tool artists implement to confront the legacies of colonial racism. Here, a ‘field of emotions’ helps to reclaim our present, which no longer belongs to us since it has been ‘colonized 24/7 by computational governance and capitalism’.[6] Attia proposes that the agency of art provides us with the freedom to be in the present. In a similar vein, the framing of art in this context evokes an artistic manifesto. When it comes to seeing the globe through a range of artistic practices, thinking broadly about these methodologies raises the question of what connects us and disconnects us. To this end, I would like to gain a clearer sense of what Attia means when he refers to ‘the field of emotions’. One could refer to Dewey’s concept of ‘aesthetic emotion’ through the agency of art experience. This principle describes how, as the artist works with their raw materials, they transform the raw feelings into artistic emotions. Based on the premise that there is no fundamental difference between everyday life and art, but simply a difference in the degree of differentiation and integration, aesthetic emotion is therefore well-structured.[7] Since aesthetic experience is made possible by reshaping materials on purpose until a sensitivity to the characteristics of objects can be realised, this process makes it an aesthetic experience rather than simply an experience. Aesthetic experience gives us a chance to engage with our emotions in this artistic playground. These works not only generate a field of emotions, but also produce for the audience a space in which they are able to pause, think and reflect. This space provides the means to identify with the subject at hand and, as a result, engage with it as it's being recognised. For instance, Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi’s work incorporates elements such as a bluescreen, a hospital bed, a boat, an oxygen mask, a portrait, and a fire-resistant plant into an installation that tells multi-layered stories independent of a specific time or place. Using a blend of real and fictitious elements, the film follows a woman as she travels from Vietnam to Thailand and then to Germany in the aftermath of the American war in Vietnam. The elements of the installation metaphorically set the ground for an imaginary journey and enables the audience to identify with the subject and the story in a womb-like setting, symbolised here by the boat and the operating table. Similarly, using natural and synthetic materials like metal, sugar, charcoal and latex, Christine Safatly's paintings and sculptures depart from the artist's personal history and local setting to probe social constructions of gender and other forms of alienation. Using allegorical narration and juxtaposition, her works encourage the viewer to relate to subjects of physiological suffering and everyday experiences with authoritarian regimes in Lebanon and beyond. This allegorical storytelling is not limited to this, in many cases, the emotional field presented invites viewers to think and reflect.
Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi, THIS UNDREAMT OF SAIL IS WATERED BY THE WHITE WIND OF THE ABYSS, 2022, video installation, mixed media, dimensions variable, research image, Photo by the author

Christine Safatly, PIECE 1, 2019, from the series THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KETCHUP AND RIPE TOMATOES, 2019-20, fabric pierced with nails and pins, Photo by the author
  Archival research and documentary modes of representation also recur throughout the Biennale. Most of archival art's potential is due to its frequent reproductions of alternative historical perspectives, primarily depicting the unrepresented in official histories to challenge power relations and authority. However, archival practices have also attracted criticism for their representation politics and institutional critique. For instance, Hal Foster criticised the lack of critical engagement, ‘representational wholeness,’ and ‘institutional integrity’ in archival art. In his article Archival Impulse, he adds:
The work in question is archival since it not only draws on informal archives but produces them as well and does so in a way that underscores the nature of all archival materials as found yet constructed, factual yet fictive, public yet private. Further, it often arranges these materials according to a quasi-archival logic, a matrix of citation and juxtaposition, and presents them in a quasi-archival architecture, a complex of texts and objects.[8]
Artistic approaches to archives cannot be limited to these critical approaches since they also enable alternative forms of representation by challenging the normative historical narratives or reinterpreting them. Archival artistic practices reflect unstructured information that is neither inherently linear nor connected, and they admit a wide variety of formats. Many instances of archival art appear in the Biennale, including the work of Azoulay, who assembled texts and images shot in Berlin right after World War II with some quotations of women who lived in Berlin in 1945. By interspersing these historical documents with her comments, modifications, and substitutions, so she uncovers the existence of these women who were excluded from official historical archives. Similarly, research agency Forensic Architecture's Cloud Studies (2022) investigates how the air we breathe can be weaponised through herbicidal warfare, tear gas, forest fires, oil and gas pollution and bomb attacks from Palestine to Beirut, London to Indonesia, and around the United States–Mexico border.  
Ariella Aïsha Azoulay, THE NATURAL HISTORY OF RAPE (detail), 2017/2022, vintage photographs, prints, untaken b/w photographs, books, essay, magazines, drawings, dimensions variable, Photo by the author
 
Forensic Architecture, CLOUD STUDIES, 2022, 2-channel video installation, colour, sound, 26′08′′, Photo by the author
While these documentary and investigative practices intertwine in many instances, mergers of art and documentation sometimes collapse the separation between the emotional field and documentary practices. Such works often combine political and poetic voices, such as in Exile Is a Hard Job (1983/2022) by Nil Yalter, which involves experimenting with photographs, transcriptions, quotes, and videos to explore lives immigrant women and families from Portugal and Turkey. These practices of documenting, drawing, and collecting involve an open-ended process of tracing and moving with the experience itself, implicating several challenging modalities of artistic production that exist between art and anthropology. Archival modes of representation employ particular narratives to reflect upon historical realities. They, on the other hand, do not leave enough room for interpretation or engagement with the subject and instead present the audience with the narratives that have already been transcribed. After getting involved in a great deal of documentation procedures throughout the Biennale, one may, in the end, realise that they are drowning in an excessive amount of information that might be hard to engage. I believe that the more room they give for the audience to interpret the subject, the more possibilities for connection they generate. This most likely corresponds to the ‘emotional field’ that the curatorial team intended to yield with this selection of works in this context. What can the Biennale accomplish with these practices? What connects and disconnects us globally and interpersonally is rooted in the space provided for viewers to think rather than inundating them with information. Since any dichotomous division does not represent the complexity of the world, such global representation fails to question the narratives that have shaped the world. Given the diversity of the art world, it is difficult to identify a single world centre or global narrative that might include all the forms of transformation.[9]  To achieve a decolonised representation of art, one must refrain from making geographical generalisations when selecting which parts of history are — or are not — included in narratives. Instead of constraining viewers to a certain time and location or overloading them with information while engaging in documentary practices, the space opened by the poetic core of the aesthetic experience transcends both. That space enables the viewer to connect with their thoughts and feelings while experiencing this artistic playground. Mapping colonial wounds would not be reduced to geography but may be opened to the exchanges, circulations, entanglements, conflicts, and disconnections of the global context.   [1] Kader Attia, curator of the 2022 Berlin Biennale, has assembled a five-member team to assist him, including Ana Teixeira Pinto, Đỗ Tường Linh, Marie Helene Pereira, Noam Segal and Rasha Salti. [2] Kader Attia, ‘Introduction’, in 12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (11.6. -18.9.2022), Catalogue (Germany, n.d.), 22. [3] Ana Bilbao, ‘From the Global to the Local (and Back)’, Third Text 33, no. 2 (4 March 2019): 179–94. [4] Soh Bejeng Ndikung Bonaventure, In a While Or Two We Will Find the Tone: Essays and Proposals, Curatorial Concepts, and Critiques (Berlin: Archive Books, 2020), 186. [5] Jakob Birken, ‘Spectres of 1989: On Some Misconceptions of the “Globality” in and of Contemporary Art’, in Situating Global Art, ed. Sara Dornhof et al. (Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2018), 49. [6] Attia, ‘Introduction’, 34. [7] H. Hohr, ‘Aesthetic Emotion: An Ambiguous Concept in John Dewey’s Aesthetics’, Ethics and Education 5, no. 3 (1 November 2010): 247–61. [8] Hal Foster, ‘An Archival Impulse’, October 110 (2004): 3–22. [9] Christian Morgner, ‘Diversity and (In)Equality in the Global Art World: Global Development and Structure of Field-Configuring Events’, New Global Studies 11, no. 3 (2017): 165–96.
Bibliography
Attia, Kader. ‘Introduction’. In 12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (11.6. -18.9.2022), Catalogue. Germany, n.d. Bilbao, Ana. ‘From the Global to the Local (and Back)’. Third Text 33, no. 2 (4 March 2019): 179–94. Birken, Jakob. ‘Spectres of 1989: On Some Misconceptions of the “Globality” in and of Contemporary Art’. In Situating Global Art, edited by Sara Dornhof, Nanne Buurman, Birgit Hopfener, and Barbara Lutz, 35–52. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2018. Bonaventure, Soh Bejeng Ndikung. In a While Or Two We Will Find the Tone: Essays and Proposals, Curatorial Concepts, and Critiques. Berlin: Archive Books, 2020. Foster, Hal. ‘An Archival Impulse’. October 110 (2004): 3–22. Hohr, H. ‘Aesthetic Emotion: An Ambiguous Concept in John Dewey’s Aesthetics’. Ethics and Education 5, no. 3 (1 November 2010): 247–61. Morgner, Christian. ‘Diversity and (In)Equality in the Global Art World: Global Development and Structure of Field-Configuring Events’. New Global Studies 11, no. 3 (2017): 165–96.  
citation information:
Güngör, Ayşe. ‘Mapping the Wounds of the World: Dis:Connectivities of Global Representation at the 12th Berlin Biennale’, 15 November 2022. https://www.globaldisconnect.org/11/15/mapping-the-wounds-of-the-world-disconnectivities-of-global-representation-at-the-12th-berlin-biennale/?lang=en.
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Nomadic camera: photography, exile and dis:connectivity

burcu dogramaci
  In 1939, 16-year-old Hans Günter Flieg took a final photo in his hometown of Chemnitz, before he and his family emigrated to Brazil due to anti-Semitic persecution. Upon his arrival in São Paulo, he took the first photo of his exile home. Both pictures appear next to each other on a film strip. Here I focus on these photographs and bring together two concepts that are new to photography and exile research: the nomadic camera and dis:connectivity.

Image: Hans Günter Flieg, Last photograph taken in Chemnitz and first photograph in São Paulo, 1939, credit: Hans Gunter Flieg / Instituto Moreira Salles Collection.

  Flieg photographed with an Agfa roll film (Isopan F) suitable for 35mm cameras. He worked with Leica equipment that his parents had purchased in anticipation of his planned emigration to Brazil.[1] Flieg had been taking a photography course with Grete Kaplus at the Berlin Jewish Museum since March 1939. This enabled his family to justify the purchase of cameras for professional reasons and to prepare their son for a career as a photographer and a livelihood abroad.[2] The film strip shows two black-and-white shots: on the left is a view from the window of a street with buildings in the Gründerzeit style. Multi-storey apartment buildings stand on a residential street densely planted with a row of trees. The view of the camera — aimed from one of the upper floors of a building — leads past a residential building; on the left is a broad part with a cloudy sky. Flieg was taking pictures from his parents’ flat, which was located in the Kaßberg district of Chemnitz. Since the turn of the twentieth century, with the industrial boom in the city, the area was considered an upscale and exquisitely built residential district.[3] Flieg’s photo was taken in August 1939. The next photo on the right is dated December 1939 and shows a bright vase of white orchids. Here, too, one of the subjects, the vase, is cropped on the right, standing on a table. Four months separate the two adjacent shots. This film strip is often shown when Flieg’s photographic work is published.[4] Flieg also spoke about this picture in an interview uploaded to the page of the digital exile museum Künste im Exil (Arts in Exile) of the Deutsches Exilarchiv (German Exile Archive) 1933—1945, which itself is a project of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (German National Library).[5] The fascination with this negative strip is due to the two photos and the narrow strip between them, which condense an emigration (hi)story. The narrow strip and the four months of time suspended in it both conceal and expose a difficult route that led from Chemnitz to Munich, over the Brenner Pass to Italy and from there by sea to São Paulo. Several thousand kilometres condense just as much on the narrow strip between two photographs as time accumulates on an in-between space. Based on this (arguably enlarged) contact print of the film strip, I offer reflections in two directions. One is about the concept of the nomadic camera. The other is about the adaptation of the term dis:connectivity to photography and exile. With nomadic camera, I refer to the camera and photography as the central medium to visualise cross-border changes of place. Included in the term nomadic are forms of forced or voluntary relocation, i.e. migration, flight, displacement, exile. Etymologically, nomadic derives from the Latin nomas/Greek nomás. Nomás alludes to non-sedentary forms of existence that historically developed in the Old World dry belt — from West Africa, across the Arabian Peninsula to East Asia — of those who spend their lives wandering, adapting to living conditions with scarce resources spread over a wide area.[6] This archaic nomadism of migratory ethnic groups, which persists, has its revenant and related figures in post-industrial societies — in commuters, labour migrants, political refugees, in employees of globally oriented companies, students, global travellers, in artists who are globally present as visiting scholars and exhibitors.[7] With these diverse connotations of nomadism in mind, I would like to refer to Caren Kaplan, who recognises ‘continuities and discontinuities between terms such as “travel”, “displacement” and “location” as well as between the particularized practices and identities of “exile”, “tourist” and “nomad”. All displacements are not the same’.[8] But precisely the often-one-dimensional reception and connotations of these different transitive forms of existence — migration as alienation, travel as experience, nomadism and vagabonding as (artistic) freedom — problematise perceptions of them as sharply delineated possibilities of existence. The point is to focus instead on the intersections that emerge from them and how they catalyse new thoughts and perceptions. Nomads, migrants and travellers are united by change and movement, the potentially temporary instability of their existence, their experience of new spaces, societies and languages. Sometimes, as the history of emigration in the 1930s and 1940s shows, the transitions between tourism and exile were fluid. Examples include transalpine border crossings disguised as ski tours and exhibition and reading tour by artists and writers becoming exile because political circumstances no longer permitted their return.[9] As a concept, the nomadic camera connotes a non-settled and nomadic ‘meta-figure’ or ‘general metaphor’[10] and denotes a transitory state that proceeds from the technical apparatus, the camera, to include the act of photographing, the camera operator(s), the resulting photographs and their circulation as well as the objects photographed. With the accent on the camera, the research interest centres on the complex interconnections of photography, mobility and technology. It extends to touch on the photographic form and aesthetics. Photography can find different languages for forced and voluntary displacements, so the question of a specific pictorial aesthetic, the formal and compositional parameters of the photography of exile, migration and flight, arises. Already in the early days of photography since its introduction in 1839, photographers travelled even with heavy-plate and large-format cameras. Throughout its existence, photography has served as a means of visualising displacements. In 1852, the French writer Victor Hugo went into exile on the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, where he composed autobiographical texts as well as drawings and photographs that pictorially recorded his escape.  Hugo’s portraits in the island’s natural environment, taken in cooperation with his son Charles and the journalist Auguste Vaquerie, are perhaps the earliest exile photographs.[11] From Hugo’s exile, widely branching lines extend to current migration, flight and displacement. The 150 years of photographic migration history — or migrant photographic history — is closely connected with technical innovations that can only be traced coarsely here. Camera techniques like the plate camera and the daguerrotype or calotype favoured mainly professional photographers, as these techniques and transporting the large cameras were expensive and time-consuming. The introduction of the Kodak box camera in the late nineteenth century fuelled the market for amateur photography, which burgeoned globally with the miniature 35-mm cameras of the 1920s.[12] Hans Günter Flieg's film strips, the Agfa Isopan F film and the Leica miniature camera indicate photography’s unprecedented mobility in the 1920s and 1930s. Photography with film rolls was a democratic medium of images whose affordability and user-friendly technology made it broadly accessible. In addition, shops sprang up all over the world as service facilities where film had to be deposited for processing, with the negatives and prints to be collected later. Outsourcing the development process promoted the global use of photography by amateurs. Not only was the technology portable, but the photographic prints — the result of the technical process — were also available on the road. Since the massive introduction of miniature cameras in the 1920s at the latest, photography became the technical and artistic medium of migration, exile and flight. Handheld cameras accompanied their owners along their migrations, leaving their homeland either voluntarily and, after 1933, often forcibly. Photographs taken on passages into exile tell of the outward routes and modes of transport.[13] Thus, images created in emigration or reflecting migration phenomena themselves have inherently nomadic qualities. For me, photography is part of a history of migration and mobility. Flieg’s negative strip highlights this in an unusual way, as the movement of the photographer, his camera and the film manifests itself through the photographs in Chemnitz on the left, the narrow strip in the middle and the shot in São Paulo on the right. The localisation in a specific environment as the starting point of the flight is clearly recognisable on the left in the Chemnitz cityscape. São Paulo as the terminus of the escape, meanwhile, is marked by the vase with the white orchids — in Brazil there are about 3,000 species from the Orchidaceae family.[14] The passage itself, as already explained, remains hidden in the dark strip. The negative strip also offers access to, or an adaptation of, the concept of dis:connectivity in the context of global flight movements and their mediatisation in photography. Dis:connectivity overcomes a binary approach and has already been applied in, for example, sociological media theory, to capture digital (dis)connectivity, media consumption and media abstinence.[15] Dis:connectivity is a new approach to global history, which we global dis:connect have already used productively and which focuses neither on interconnectedness nor on deglobalisation exclusively. Rather, as Roland Wenzlhuemer writes, it is about a ‘tension between processes of entanglement and disentanglement’,[16] which means that global connections always contain interruptions, detours and voids, be they transport routes, communication channels, escape routes or capital flows. For exile research, the concept of dis:connectivity can illuminate both the actors (persons) and actants (objects). That is precisely the purpose behind examining Flieg’s photographs, which are connected to each other as successive images on a negative strip. Yet, there is an interstice, a gap between them. Theoretically, two images on 35-mm film could be separated by only a few moments, as it was possible to take up to 36 images in succession with the Leica camera. Flieg, however, took the photographs and put the camera aside, not using it while in transit. Therefore, no photograph exists of this passage into exile, at least not on this film and not with this camera. It can be assumed that he did not want to draw attention to himself, at least towards the beginning of his journey, which led to Italy over the Brenner Pass. On the ship — I sadly don’t know the exact route — no photographs were taken with the Leica either. Absence, the blank space marked in black on the strip, thus stands for a journey that was not visually documented. Absence, as Ulrike Lehmann writes, refers to a former presence and what has now disappeared: ‘The absent presupposes the present. ’[17] But the space in-between also evidences the dis:connective relationship between home and abroad, between the origin and the terminus of the journey that was to separate Flieg almost permanently from the city of Chemnitz and from Germany. He only returned on the occasion of his first solo exhibition in Germany at the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz in 2008, almost 70 years after he had emigrated.[18] The film strip can also be understood as a timeline in which the direction runs from left to right, corresponding to the numbering of the images from 10 (Chemnitz) to 11 (São Paulo). Timelines are culturally bound. Where Latin script predominates, they run from left to right (i.e. as one reads), and where Arabic prevails, they are ordered from right to left (again according to the direction of reading). In everyday life, time is perceived as a trajectory that always runs irreversibly in one direction towards a final state.[19] This negative strip, however, also allows for another interpretation, namely time as something that runs from exilein two directions separated by the dividing space. There is a time before exile and a time of exile or post-exile. These times are not characterised by succession, but by the difference and divergence of experiences and of cultural and linguistic spaces. Time and space — the latter as a variable often used for flight, exile and migration — form an important connection. One could equally speak of dis:connective times and dis:connective spaces. Incidentally, Hans Günter Flieg found the film strip with the two photos from Chemnitz and São Paulo among his early photos only many decades later, when he was preparing a retrospective of his works for the Museu da Imagem de do Som in São Paulo in 1981. Through this find, he was able to recall the time of his emigration with temporal distance, thus creating connectivity.     [1] Michael Nungesser, ‘Chemnitz Liegt Bei São Paulo. Der Fotograf Hans Günter Flieg’, ed. Ingrid Mössinger and Katharina Metz, 2008. [2] Agi Straus, Interview mit der Malerin Agi Straus, São Paulo, 15 April 2013, https://kuenste-im-exil.de/KIE/Content/DE/Objekte/flieg-interview.html?cms_x=4&catalog=1; Nungesser, ‘Chemnitz Liegt Bei São Paulo. Der Fotograf Hans Günter Flieg’. [3] Tilo Richter, ed., Der Kassberg. Ein Chemnitzer Lese- Und Bilderbuch (Leipzig: Passage-Verlag, 1996). [4] Ingrid Mössinger and Katharina Metz, eds., in Hans Günter Flieg: Dokumentarfotografie Aus Brasilien (1940-1970) (Bielefeld: Kerber Verlag, 2008), 48–49; Sylvia Asmus, in ......Mehr Vorwärts Als Rückwärts Schauen... (Berlin: Hentrich & Hentrich, 2013). [5] Hans Günter Flieg, Interview des Deutschen Exilarchivs 1933 - 1945 mit Hans Günter Flieg : São Paulo, 18.04.2013 / Interview und Bild: Sylvia Asmus und Jochanan Shelliem, 18 April 2013, https://d-nb.info/1059580241. [6] Alfred Hendricks, ‘Menschen unterwegs. Mobilität als Erfolgsstrategie’, in Unterwegs. Nomaden früher und heute, ed. Alfred Hendricks (Gütersloh: Linnemann, 2003), 8–11. [7] Birgit Haehnel, in Regelwerk und Umgestaltung. Nomadistische Denkweisen in der Kunstwahrnehmung nach 1945 (Berlin: Reimer, 2007), 29; T. J. Demos, in The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary during Global Crisis (Verona: Electa, 2017), 18–26. [8] Caren Kaplan, Questions of Travel. Postmodern Discourses of Displacement (Durham/London: Duke University Press, 1996). [9] Thomas Oellermann, ‘Wenzel Jaksch Und Die Seliger-Gemeinde’, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, 27 November 2021, https://www.fes.de/themenportal-geschichte-kultur-medien-netz/artikelseite/wenzel-jaksch. [10] Peter Gross, ‘Der Nomade’, in Diven, Hacker, Spekulanten. Sozialfiguren der Gegenwart, ed. Stephan Moebius and Markus Schroer (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2010), 316–25. [11] Denis Canguilhem, ‘En Collaboration Avec Le Soleil. Victor Hugo, Photographies de l’exil (Cat. Exp.), Textes de F. Heilbrun, Q. Bajac, P. Néagu, N. Savy, S. Rouleau, F. Rodari, Paris, Paris-Musées/Réunion Des Musées Nationaux, 1998’, n.d., https://journals.openedition.org/etudesphotographiques//200. [12] Todd Gustavson, Camera: A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital (New York: Sterling Publishing, 2009); Erich Stenger, Die Geschichte Der Kleinbildkamera Bis Zur Leica (Frankfurt am Main, 1949). [13] Burcu Dogramaci, in Fotografieren Und Forschen: Wissenschaftliche Expeditionen Mit Der Kamera Im Türkischen Exil Nach 1933, 1. (Marburg: ‎ Jonas Verlag, 2013). [14] ‘Orchideen S.O.S.’, 20 December 2021, https://brasilienportal.ch/wissen/brasilien-report/kurz-reportagen/orchideen-sos/. [15] Pepita Hesselberth, ‘Discourses on Disconnectivity and the Right to Disconnect’, no. vol. 20, 5 (8 June 2017). [16] Roland Wenzlhuemer, ‘Dis:Konnektivität Und Krise’, 12 November 2020, https://www.blog.cas.uni-muenchen.de/topics/global-worlds/dis-konnektivitaet-und-krise. [17] Ulrike Lehmann, ‘Ästhetik Der Absenz. Ihre Rituale Des Verbergens Und Der Verweigerung. Eine Kunstgeschichtliche Betrachtung’, in Ästhetik Der Absenz. Bilder Zwischen Anwesenheit Und Abwesenheit, ed. Ulrike Lehmann and Peter Weibel (München/Berlin: Klinckhardt & Biermann, 1994), 42–74. [18] Hans Günter Flieg, in Hans Günter Flieg: Dokumentarfotografie Aus Brasilien (1940-1970), ed. Ingrid Mössinger (Bielefeld: Kerber Verlag, 2008), 8. [19] Erhard Keppler, Zeitliches. Vom Umgang mit der Zeit seit der Antike. Eine Kulturgeschichte des Zeitbegriffs (Katlenburg-Lindau: Copernicus, 2007).  
bibliography
Asmus, Sylvia, and Marlen Eckl, editors, ‘... mehr vorwärts als rückwärts schauen ... ’. Das deutschsprachige Exil in Brasilien 1933-1945 / ‘... olhando mais para frente do que para trás  ... ’. O exílio de língua alemã no Brasil 1933-1945 (Berlin: Hentrich & Hentrich, 2013) Demos, T.J. ‘Charting a Course. Exile, Diaspora, Nomads, Refugees. A Genealogy of Art and Migration’, in The Restless Earth, exh. cat. Fondazione La Triennale di Milano. Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan (Verona: Mondadori Electa, 2017), 18-26. Dogramaci, Burcu, Fotografieren und Forschen. Wissenschaftliche Expeditionen mit der Kamera im türkischen Exil nach 1933 (Marburg: Jonas, 2013), 29 and 81 En collaboration avec le soleil. Victor Hugo. Photographies de l’exil, exh. cat. Musée d’Orsay et Maison de Victor Hugo, Paris, 1998 Flieg, Hans Günter. “Interview on 18 April 2013, video, https://kuenste-im-exil.de/KIE/Content/DE/Objekte/flieg-interview.html?cms_x=4&catalog=1, accessed 3.4.2022. Gross, Peter, ‘Der Nomade’, in Diven, Hacker, Spekulanten. Sozialfiguren der Gegenwart, edited by Stephan Moebius and Markus Schroer (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2010), 316-325. Gustavson, Todd, Camera. A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital (New York: Sterling Publishing, 2009). Haehnel, Birgit, Regelwerk und Umgestaltung. Nomadistische Denkweisen in der Kunstwahrnehmung nach 1945 (Berlin: Reimer, 2006) Hans Günter Flieg. Dokumentarfotografie aus Brasilien, edited by Ingrid Mössinger and Katharina Metz, exh. cat. Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Chemnitz (Bielefeld: Kerber, 2008). Hendricks, Alfred, ‘Menschen unterwegs. Mobilität als Erfolgsstrategie’, in idem, editor, Unterwegs. Nomaden früher und heute (Gütersloh: Siegbert Linnemann, 2003), 8-11. Hesselberth, Pepita, ‘Discourses on Disconnectivity and the Right to Disconnect’, in New Media & Society, vol. 20, no. 5, 2018, 1994–2010. Kaplan, Caren, Questions of Travel. Postmodern Discourses of Displacement (Durham/London: Duke University Press, 1996) Keppler, Erhard, Zeitliches. Vom Umgang mit der Zeit seit der Antike. Eine Kulturgeschichte des Zeitbegriffs (Katlenburg-Lindau: Projekte-Verlag Cornelius, 2007). Lehmann, Ulrike, ‘Ästhetik der Absenz. Ihre Rituale des Verbergens und der Verweigerung. Eine kunstgeschichtliche Betrachtung’, in Ästhetik der Absenz. Bilder zwischen Anwesenheit und Abwesenheit, edited by Ulrike Lehmann and Peter Weibel (Munich/Berlin: Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1994), 42-74. Nungesser, Michael. “Chemnitz liegt bei São Paulo. Der Fotograf Hans Günter Flieg, in: Hans Günter Flieg. Dokumentarfotografie aus Brasilien, hg. v. Ingrid Mössinger und Katharina Metz, Ausst.-Kat. Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Chemnitz 2008, S. 10-14 Oellermann, Thomas, ‘Wenzel Jaksch und die Seliger-Gemeinde’, 27.11.2021, https://www.fes.de/themenportal-geschichte-kultur-medien-netz/artikelseite/wenzel-jaksch, accessed 3.4.2022. Richter, Tilo, editor, Der Kaßberg. Ein Chemnitzer Lese- und Bilderbuch (Leipzig: Passage-Verlag, 1996). Stenger, Erich, Die Geschichte der Kleinbildkamera bis zur Leica (Frankfurt/Main: Umschau 1949). Wenzlhuemer, Roland. ‘Dis:konnektivität und Krise’,  CAS LMU Blog, 12 November 2020, https://www.blog.cas.uni-muenchen.de/topics/global-worlds/dis-konnektivitaet-und-krise, accessed 4 April 2022.  
citation information
 
Dogramaci, Burcu. ‘Nomadic Camera: Photography, Exile and Dis:Connectivity’. Institute Website. Blog, Global Dis:Connect (blog), 8 February 2022. https://www.globaldisconnect.org/08/02/nomadic-camera-photography-exile-and-disconnectivity/?lang=en.
This post has also appeared in issue 1.1 of our in-house journal, static.
Dogramaci, Burcu. ‘Nomadic Camera: Photography, Exile and Dis:Connectivity’. Static. Thoughts and Research from Global Dis:Connect, 2022.
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