I am still alive

Feb 7, 2018

Some Russian friends already started to worry after reading my first Moscow blog. Please do not! I am fine! A good night’s sleep and a light breakfast totally refreshed me. Sorry for my strange post! It is maybe because I am reading the diaries of Franz Kafka, but on this frosty and sunny morning the difference between him and me could not be more significant:

“Today I do not even dare to blame myself. Called into this empty day, it would have a disgusting echo.” (my translation)

Of course it is better in German:

“Heute wage ich es nicht einmal, mir Vorwürfe zu machen. In diesen leeren Tag hineingerufen hätte das einen ekelhaften Widerhall.”

Kafka wrote this on 22 December 1910. His diaries are exercises in writing and they are fascinating to read. I am jealous of his sharp thoughts and his ability to put them into words. But I do not envy his state of mind.

“I am still alive” was the message that the artist On Kawara sent around the world. The neutrality of this statement makes it impressive, the more in the context of his meticulous oeuvre. His works are just there. There is no judgment in them. He is dead now, but I am still alive. And kicking.

So where were we? In Moscow, to be sure. I have to give a lecture in the New Tretyakov Gallery on Sunday and I took some extra time to see exhibitions and talk to colleagues. Of course I first went to look at the Lissitzky exhibitions in the Tretyakov and the Jewish Museum. After all I might find some ideas there for my lecture, which is by no means finished yet.

The blacksmith at the entrance, who bends the iron effortlessly in summer, is now having some difficulties in this icy cold weather. The poster for the exhibition is on the background.
I like this statue very much. It dates from the middle of the Cold War, and of course it is propaganda, like many statues in the park in front of the entrance. Bur this heroic figure is trying to restore peace in a period of feverish political temperatures. Had he succeeded to convince us, then we would not be in today’s version of the Cold War. (Yes, I already hear you say that history might have taken many different paths, if only…)

Keep me posted

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