Friday, 12 March 2010

RSA Berlin Wall Panel Symposia

The Renaissance Society of America organised a panel discussion on the 20th anniversary of the Wall's opening, with Mary Elise Sarotte, Peter Millar and Thomas Kielinger.

RSA (2009) Panel Discussion - The Fall of the Berlin Wall: 20 Years On. [online] [12/03/2010]

Thomas Macho on Anniversary

The cultural studies scholar Thomas Macho found the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall "a bit silly" (Thomas, 2010). "The dominoes, knocking them over, the musical background – it was all rather too playful" Macho criticized the event too-focused on TV audience; "The Wall wasn’t some rickety affair; it was quite solid, and many people died trying to cross it".

He also noted that there is a confusion about how Berlin accepts its history, and how victims of the GDR are treated.

BBC (2009) In Pictures: Berlin Wall Anniversary. [online] [12/03/2010]
Thomas, V. (trans. Uhlaner, J.) (2010) “Every Place Is Doubly or Triply Occupied.” – Thomas Macho on Celebration in the Berlin Republic. [online] [12/03/2010]

Divide after the Wall, 12 Nov 1989

"There will come a day when the Germans in the G.D.R. decide whether they want to form one state with the Germans in the Federal Republic... the Federal Republic will have to face up to its provisional character, which will be hard for a lot of people'' (Frankfurter Allgemeine, in Schmemann, 1989). Schmemann forecasts that unification will not be easy or simple, noting that demonstrators in the GDR with slogans "We are staying here" shows their pride and identity is not for a unified Germany.

After the opening of the Wall and free elections to follow, "the wall was reduced to a benign fence between neighboring cousins", he reported from East Berlin. "The opening of the Brandenburg Gate would not only make it unnecessary to have a wall, it might also make it unnecessary to take the wall down" (Schmemann, 1989)

Schmemann, S. (1989) Beyond the Wall; Not Just One German Question But Many. [online] [12/03/2010]

Thursday, 11 March 2010

picture book story

"It was a weird wall.
Like the Möbius strip,
it had only one side,
the other was unseen:
the far side of the Moon."

 - It was a Weird Wall by Vera Pavlova, translated by Steven Seymour

"Whether 'home' is imagined as the community of Europe or of the national state or of the region, it is drenched in the longing for wholeness, unity, integrity" (Morley and Robins, 1996, in Mitchell)

Title: Two Bears of Berlin (working title)

Theme: The changes in Germany since the unification 20 years ago, with differences of perceptions ("the Wall in the mind") that still exist. Highlighting the perceptions of former-East and -West Berliners through the eyes of two bears (which represent Berlin) the readers will acknowledge that the existence of different opinions in a pluralistic society is a positive cultural state.

Time span: From the morning when the bears wake up, until they go back to sleep (or hibernation) in the night. April?

Characters: A female bear from East Berlin and a male bear from West Berlin. I'm going to call them Katarina (K) and Fritz (F) for now. They have just woken up from 20 years' hibernation (their relationship is similar to that of left and right brain, inseparable yet diverse). They are very different. Katarina only knows East Germany, where the state controlled a large part of life and also providing a lot; Fritz is more comfortable with individualist and materialist cultures, and doesn't rely much on other people. So... Katarina might be upset because the price of honey has doubled, and Fritz would complain that there are only 8 brands of honey; Katarina talks to her neighbors a lot, and Fritz won't care much about them... things like that.

Some stereotypes of East and West Berliners:,,3927596,00.html

Ideas and resources:
The idea of a person waking up into a completely changed world is also seen in the film, Goodbye Lenin!
The film The Lives of Others talks about the life of a secret police officer before and after the opening of the Berlin Wall.
Fatherland is a story of a musician who defects to West germany and looks for his father.
The Wings of Desire is about an angel who wants to become a person, and is set in Berlin during the Wall.

The story
Berlin, 2010 - two bears, Katarina and Fritz, have woken up from their hibernation. Katarina and Fritz have never met before, although they lived on a same hill. In fact, they only lived few metres away from each other. This is because there used to be a long wall that separated the hill, but Katarina and Fritz have overslept a little. They have been sleeping for more than 20 years, so they didn’t know anything about the events in 1989 which opened up the wall and changed their hill.




A short introduction


It was a bright cold day in April, and it was nearly noon.
[Fritz wakes up, scratching his ass, when he sees Katarina coming out of her house/hole. They look at each other, embarrassed]


"Who are you?", asked F. "And what are you doing on my field?"
[K] "I've lived here ALL my life. This is my field, and this is my house, right next to the...


"Where is the Wall?"


"You mush have been a sleep for a long time," said an old voice from below.
[a mole comes out of the ground]
"The Wall has been gone for more than 20 years now" said the mole. "East Bearland is gone too", he continued, "Now there's just one Bearland".


K + F: "WOW!"
For as long as they knew, the Bearland had been divided into two, East and West. Neither of them could imagine that two Bearlands would ever be together.

K, excitedly: "I'm free now. I'm going to see what's on the other side."


[a street with lots of adverts and posters]
There are so many adverts" said K, a little shocked. "But", interrupted F, "that's because there are lots of shops." "And lots of food", he added.


K: "But why do you need so much?" One official brand was enough for K, and she grew up that way.  One official brand was enough for K, she'd grown up that way.
[a loud car drives pass K]
K: "And, there are too many cars." Bears had to wait for 5 years in East Bearland to get a car, but K would always get a lift from her neighbours. Lots of bears living on her street shared that car. 

When refering to 'that car' I think the audience would need some frame of reference to remember back to - even if it was just a picture of the car in a memory bubble as K remembers it? Otherwise the sentence should say something like, 'that beat up car,' or 'that little Ford Fiesta'...Or some native car to Berlin. does this make sense to you? Like, giving some description so it doesn't feel like there's missing information.
I'm picky - it might not matter.


K wondered how many years bears had to wait in West Bearland. "It's not West Bearland any more" K thought to herself. There was just one Bearland.
F: "Here, you don't have to wait when you buy a car" siad F confidently, interrupting her thoughts. "And they go MUCH faster than any cars made in East Bearland!" he claimed, triumphantly. "You can go anywhere, fast!"


K wondered how her father was doing. Her father had wanted to buy a car. Usually, the bears had to wait for 5 years for their car to be delivered, but because K's father was an official of the Bearland government, he was told he only had to wait for 3 years. "But" K thought, if there was no East Bearland, he wouldn't have a job any more. 


"If no bears had jobs, how can they afford to pay for their cars?"
[K looks at F] "I bet he doesn't have a job" thought K.


F was starting to worry too, because K kept looking at him in a strange way. "Maybe she works for the Secret Bear Police." F had heard about the Secret Bear Police in East Bearland (but he didn't know it had dissapeared with East Bearland). K continued to look around. Are you keeping the brackets here? Yup.


They were both a bit tired of each other.   


K and F stopped, and looked up the Wall. The Wall that cut the Bearland into two, and seperated bear families, for years and years... but this bit of the Wall just stood there. No bears seemed to notice the Wall. Now it was just like a normal wall.


They looked at the Wall. K saw the clouds move slowly across the sky. F noticed the birds singing, and playing together. "I wonder which bird is from the East and which from the West". The sky was never divided by the Wall.


K felt a bit of Spring wind on her fur [which swirls around her, brushes pass F, plays with blossoms and then goes over the Wall. F gives a long sigh] 


[and then, they they see a group of bees fly over the Wall. they make patterns in the air. Bears' stomach growl. they look at each other and smile] 
The bees had always flown over the wall to make honey.


[the sun is starting to set]
"I'm really hungry" they both said, [look surprised] and smiled again. They hadn't had anything to eat for a long time. They'd been walking and looking around since they met - and arguing.


"Let's go home and eat some honey" said F. 


There were lots of things they wanted to talk about.


[stars in the sky]
So they headed back home.

Tomo, this is so CUTE! Hope I haven't added too much. I've only done a quick look of it and written about the things that jump out at me. It's not my story though, and don't want to feel like I'm taking over, sorry if some of the comments look a bit fierce. Let me know if you don't like what I've been saying though. Oh, and sorry that what I've written is a bit hard to find x

Critical Evaluation for Collaborative Unit

"No one can expect the spirit of involvement and partnership to flourish without an abundance of information available", stated Semler (1999, p.128), as he claimed that "advantages of openness and truthfulness far outweigh the disadvantages" of arguments and demands based on those information. The owner of Semco, who introduced participatory management to his company, has managed to increase production by encouraging individuals to actively engage in decision making and to determine the course of the organisation.
"I don’t feel like participating and collaboration is fundamental. But I do feel like it’s certainly one of the more exciting parts of the digital age." [Frank, in Glei, 2010]
When asked how collaboration influenced his work, Frank stated collaboration was a characteristic of creativity, even though he did not see it as crucial process. Frank also claimed that by carrying out work with others, in a mass-collaboration based on internet and his audience, he realised the opportunity "to explore this creative process that normally all happens internally, in a different way where you release work, and then you allow the frameworks that emerge from the way people respond to the work as some kind of feedback cycle" [Glei, 2010].

I have set up the picture book group based on my knowledge and experiences of collaboratively running projects at Summerhill School and other organisations: the philosophy was that every member had equal voice, information was to be open, and everyone shared responsibilities. The idea of collaboration linked well with the opening of the Berlin Wall and the unification of Germany, that a lot can be achieved when people work together, and I wanted to illustrate that people can respect individual differences and coexist. I had similar ideas to use the photographs and illustrations of the Berlin Wall to narrate a story of Berliners previously, and this was an opportunity to materialise this idea.

I began to investigate effective ways translating facts into stories, narrating it effectively and to express emotions of Berliners. The outcome of this research lead to using animals to portray human behaviour, to both enable the audience to relate and engage, and to objectify human behaviour. Bears, the Berlin mascot, was to symbolise Berliners. After discussions in December 2009 with with the author Albert Lamb, the idea of two bears, one from East and the other from West, were to meet in Berlin came about. The bear from the former-East Berlin had overslept for 20 years, and was not aware of the opening of the Berlin Wall (as in the film Good Bye Lenin!) or the German unification, and the two bears were to explore the new city without the divide, as well as having to face their new neighbours who had diverse values and opinion. 

Since January 2010, I have placed file-sharing programs such as Dropbox and Google Docs to the hub of the project, as well as Skype, emails and text-messaging to establish frequent communication. To an extent, these tools have served their purpose, however, communication was not as effective as originally thought, and the project is still far from completion.

There are various elements that explain this problem. The group formed and progressed largely based on people I have worked with previous to this project, and most importantly, how well I knew them - in other words, how well I could communicate with the members. I have known Albert and Andrew for over 15 years, and brain-storming meetings I had between December 2009 and January 2010 effectively produced numerous ideas for the picture book story. I have also worked with Terry, Ting and Tink on several projects in a school community in the past, and I feel we are able to communicate. In contrast, my communication with Lee was not as fluent, even though we have been talking in class and socially, and this possibly is related to joining the already existing group that is used to working with one another [Navone, 2010]. There were frequent miscommunication between me and Lee, and I have acknowledged its impact on the rest of the group and their work throughout the process. 

In retrospect, this seems like an easy mistake which could have been prevented. Throughout the course, my tutor could not have emphasised enough about communication. I was aware of the importance of communication when Lee asked me if I wanted to collaborate with him on this project. I could not have known our character or working styles, without actually going through the collaborative process with him. Some ideas Lee presented at group discussions, I had not been informed previously - I expect Lee had similar kinds of shock from ideas I had expressed. This is not to say that I expect all ideas to be consulted before being made public. 
"The fall of the wall was a European earthquake, but in Washington and Moscow, miscommunication and suspicion meant the leaders were badly out of sync. While Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was eager to move on cutting nuclear arsenals, President George H.W. Bush was cautious and uncertain, and a promising moment slipped away." (Hoffman, 2009)
The picture book collaboration, with its philosophy of participation, is of course different from the Cold War politics of control, but this issue of inter-personal relation is a clear symbol of miscommunication. The structure of communication was based around me. For example, a group meeting on Skype would not take place unless I organised the time and attended, and even though I had shared everyone's email and Skype contacts, communication between other members were limited [fig.1]. This caused conflict with the philosophy of sharing control and tasks, as I tried to remain an equal member of the team and chose not to assert power over other artists.

[fig.1] Group structure. The numbers show the chronicle
order of contacts that were made regarding the project.

Some of these obstacles I have mentioned can be traced to the original intention of mine to combine two projects - the picture book production and the MADA Collaborative unit - together, and its correlation: the former aims to produce and latter research and explore collaborative processes. Even though my initial idea of producing (or at least starting) a picture book through collaboration seemed a logical process, I currently see the two projects as not conflicting but of diverse nature. Through observation, I have noticed that Lee did not have the time or the opportunity to get to know other artists fully, and the project relied on communication between me and Lee. Of course, "it is always easier to identify... in retrospect than as you are living through it" (Hoffman, 2009) and I was unable to perceive such situation when Lee first talked to me about collaborating on a project in January. 
"I usually try to say ‘make it as quickly and faithfully as possible.’ ‘Quickly’ and ‘faithfully’ kind of pull in opposite directions. I find that that’s a nice tension to work in – try and get it out as fast as possible, but don’t take shortcuts just for time. Try to stay true to the original concept." [Frank, in Glei, 2010]
The time element as a result of my communication issues added strain on the group, although I have decided to continue the project in the shape closer to what I originally intended outside the course. I had often spoken of coexisting with differences of opinion, however, working together with diverse characters and working styles have been difficult. This also is one of the problems of unified Germany, which has long suffered from cultural and psychological division after the opening of the Berlin Wall and the unification (MSM/CGH, 2006). A situation where "tongue-in-cheek calls for the Wall to be rebuilt come from both sides" (MSM/CGH, 2006) of the former German border illustrates that collaborative work requires time and interactive trials and errors [Welsh et al, 2010].

Verena Postweiler

An image created by Verena Postweiler illustrates how the process of German unification, attempting to combine two diverse cultures and sets of values, was rushed, with its main aim being unity itself. The result of this rapid unification is that groups that share similar values on both sides of the Iron Curtain feel mistreated and there is also growing mistrust [Welsh et al, 2010]. With their shared goals of unification being achieved, former neighbours still feel alienated from one another (Mitchell, 2000).

Weiss & Hughs (2005) claim avoiding conflicts should not be the focus of a collaborating group, but instead, manage what is natural and inevitable. Effective and productive teamwork is based on clear tools and steps that allow participants to move on, having gained from the experience of disagreements and disputes. It is an asset for groups that know how to manage it (Weiss & Hughs, 2005). The picture book project within the framework of the course is now over, and I will develop the group into a linear group to enable close and effective communication. This will lead the group back to its original form I had in mind, which will embrace the issues that the previous group encountered. 

Depardon, R. (1989) The Rise and the Fall of the Berlin Wall. [online],29307,1631993_1383237,00.html [11/03/2010]
Glei, J.K. [2010]  Ze Frank on Imaginary Audiences. [online] [28/02/2010]

Hoffman, D.E. (2009) 1989: The Lost year. [online] [11/03/2010]
Mitchell, D. (2000) Cultural Geography: A Critical Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 
MSM/CGH (2006) Beasts from the East, Pests from the West. [online],1518,410770,00.html [11/03/2010]
Navone, V. [2010] Inside Dailies at Pixar: Expressing Your Opinion About Changes in Animation. [online] [24/02/2010]

Postweiler, V. (2005) Wir sind ein Volk. Berlin: Berliner Technische Kunstschule.
Semler, R. (1999) Maverick! The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace. London: Random House Business Books. 
Weiss, J. & Hughes, J. (2005) "Want Collaboration? Accept - and Actively Manage - Conflict" in Harvard Business Review. March, Vol.83, No.3, pp. 92-101.
Welsh, H.A. & Jarausch, K.H., translated by Brailovsky, A. [2010] Volume 10. One Germany in Europe, 1989 – 2006. [online] [11/03/2010]

Rainer Eppelmann and Egon Krenz on 20th Anniversary

Rainer Eppelmann, a former-East German dissident leader, and the leader of the ruling party Egon Krenz give interviews reflecting on the 1989 event (Connolly, 2009).
Connolly, K. (2009) Voices of Berlin's 1989 Revolution. [online] [11/03/2010]

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Lego Walls

Lego Making History is an idea developed by Jung von Matt/Alster (The Inspiration Room, 2009). 
The Inspiration Room (2009) Lego Making history. [online] [10/03/2010]
Rayome, C. [2010] The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall. [online] [10/03/2010]

The Berlin Wall at Garry's Mod

"After a huge anticipation for almost 2 months, the little sketch by Stene was soon made real by a group of talented modders" [Garry's Mod, 2010]. The player is a citizen of the East Berlin wishing to flee to the west, and you are to find a way, and can "roam through dirty tunnel, or have a little gunfight with the guards". Schweizer (2009) claims the map lacks social and political tensions although it has a documentary quality.
"Even though there's no built-in win condition for the game, it is clear that staying in East Berlin is not an option. It could be interesting to see how players of different nationalities approach the mod to see how cultural heritage influences their decisions." (Schweizer, 2009)
Garry's Mod [2010] Berlin Wall. [online] [10/03/2010]
Schweizer, B. (2009) Berlin Wall Map for Garry's Mod. [online] [10/03/2010]

Sonnenallee by Leander Haußmann

Sonnenallee is a comedy about a group of kids who grow up on the East side of Sonnenallee, a street divided by the Berlin Wall. Its director, Leander Haußmann, has also directed the film Herr Lehmann which also involves lives of people and the Wall. [2010] Deutsches Haus Columbia Film Series Fall 2009. [online] [10/03/2010] [2010] Ein Leander Haußmann Film. [online] [10/03/2010]

Liebe Mauer, Go Trabi Go and Peter Timm

Liebe Mauer is a romcom by Peter Timms, who has also directed a comedy, Go Trabi Go [Bundes Verband Regie, 2010].

Bundes Verband Regie [2010] Peter Timm BVR. [online] [10/03/2010]
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. [2010] Liebe Mauer. [online] [10/03/2010]

The Berlin Wall by Paul Cotter

The Berlin Wall (Die Berlinermauer) by Paul Cotter is a short film by Paul Cotter about a man who starts building a wall. Neighbours speculate and interpret the reasons behind this actions as he continues. The film was shot in Berlin and was a finalist for the Berlin Today Award at Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival (Cotter, 2010).

Cotter, P. (2010) [online]

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Art inside the CIA

The Central Intelligence Agency, Art
CIA Original Headquarters Building
Langley, Virginia

"It is speculated that some of the CIA’s involvement in the arts was designed to counter Soviet Communism by helping to popularize what it considered pro-American thought and aesthetic sensibilities. Such involvement has raised historical questions about certain art forms or styles that may have elicited the interest of the Agency, including abstract expressionism." [Simon, 2010]
Simon, T. [2010] The Central Intelligence Agency, Art: CIA Original Headquarters Building: Langley, Virginia. [online] [09/03/2010]

Monday, 8 March 2010

Gerhard Seyfried, Berlin and Unification

Gerhard Seyfried is a cartoonist based in Berlin, illustrating social issues including the unification of Germany. He has also collaborated with Franziska Riemann (Schneider, 2005).

Flucht aus Berlin, 1990

Zusammen wächst ..., 1990

Wahlkampf in Berlin, 1990
Schneider, M. (2005) Gerhard Seyfried. [online] [08/03/2010]
Seyfried, G. [2010] [08/03/2010]

Steve McCurry at the Wall

These photographs were taken by Steve McCurry in November 1989 (McCurry, 2009). 

McCurry, S. (2009) Unpublished, Unseen. [online] [08/03/2010]

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Disney Pins

Two pins to mark the unification day

PinPics (2007) Holiday Pins - Foreign National Holidays and Celebrations. [online] 

CDU and SPD Posters

Both the Cristian Democtrats and the Social Democrats claimed the territory beyond the Oder-Neisse Line, according to these election posters, now a recognised border between Germany and Poland.

Ederic O (2009) Re: Thatcher (and Mitterand, and Bush I) Opposed German Reunification. [online] [05/-3/2010]
I wonder if it's useful to count the number of text messages, emails, Skype conversations, for the presentation. It'd need to be more than just adding numbers, I suppose.