Saturday, June 5, 2010

Vienna / Yugoslavia, Korea, Gaza

while in Vienna, i basically zoomed out of current news. on the other side, just being in Vienna and walking around all those huge buildings and monuments and statues that are intended to show the power and glory of this state in a massive, silent way constantly reminds you of the rise and fall of hierarchies in time. added to that, there was the memory of my first visit to Vienna - back then, i visited the city for a day with a friend, on our way to Yugoslavia. that was before the war there, but there already was a distinct tension and currency slide there. no one believed that the region would turn to war, though. war in europe? everyone thought those days were over.

back to the current trip: one of the museums Karyn & i wanted to visit was the MAK, the "museum for applied art". we entered it, and didn't realize it consists of 2 buildings, one with the permanent collection, and one with theme exhibitions. which currently is: "Flowers For Kim Il Sung". we hadn't planned to see this, but as we were there, and were curious + as it connects to my travels through Asia, we entered it. it comes with security check + an introduction on the current debate around the exhibition. here the exhibition link: "Flowers for Kim Il Sung - Art and architecture from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea."

walking through the exhibition made us both wonder: "How would my life - or rather: I - have shaped out if I was born somewhere else, like for example, in North Korea?" - very different, that's for sure. it's a question that probably is more present while travelling, while being/living in another place for a bit.

when Diana arrived from Prague some hours later, we told her about the exhibition, and she told us about her trip through Korea, and the visit to the Demilitarized Zone between the 2 countries. which then lead to memories of East/West Germany.

then yesterday, Diana and i visited the Leopold museum, which focuses on the Vienna Secession - the art nouveau movement, and its approach "to design according to which artists should work on everything from architecture to furniture, making art part of everyday life" (more). the main focus of the musuem is on the painters Gustav Klimt and Oskar Schiele. but the permanent exhibition on the upper floor gives a scope of the whole time and history, which was shaped by psychologist Sigmund Freud, and also by the city development of Vienna during this time: the mayor of that time was Karl Lueger, a charismatic leader who introduced communal reforms. Lueger also was an Antisemit. why do i type this all out? because of this little detail that also was part of the exhibiton: Lueger's life and political appraoch later inspired an unseccusful artist who lived in Vienna for a while: Adolf Hitler. i hadn't realized this connection before.

just 2 hours later, the news of the world caught up with Diana and me as we walked from Leopold musuem to the Vienna Hofburg, and then waited for a tram. turned out, the trams weren't running, due to a demonstration down the street, which just started to proceed towards the Hofburg. we stood there and watched while the demonstrators passed by: it was a Turkish / Palestinian demo against the Gaza attack. opposite of us was the Goethe statue. the demonstrators handed out leaflets. today i came across this post on the theme on the blog of Rachel Barenblat, who contributed to the re/visit/circle/turn issue of Blueprintreview, and now wrote in her blog: "if I want to see more thoughtful blogging from progressive Jews on this subject, I need to speak up too." here's the link to her post: 5 things about the Gaza flotilla.

Diana has a short video of the demo up in her travel blog, her first video there: pro-Turkey demo against Israel. it includes a link to a NY Times article: "Days of Planning Led to Flotilla’s Hour of Chaos - Weeks of miscalculations set activists on a Turkish boat and Israeli commandos on a collision course."

somehow this post now would need a summing-up sentence, but i am not sure how to wrap this up. i didn't even intend to write a blog post on this theme, i thought i would give an overview of the museums today. then i saw the note in Rachel's blog, and it brought back those other moments of reflection: Korea and Germany. and this connection between the Vienna mayor and Hitler. which of course leads to the Holocaust, and to Israel, and the Gaza zone.

note, a day later:
it seems to be a time of political blog post in poet/author blogs. here's another one, also from a blueprintreview contributor: Nicole Wong on the 4th of June - the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protest + massacre: June 4th 2010.

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