Esther Shalev-Gerz

Inseparable Angels - The Imaginary House of Walter Benjamin (2000). 10 colour digital photographs and a video projection based on an installation made in Weimar, Germany. Exhibited in Weimar (2000), Berlin (2001), Cahors (2002), Stockholm (2002) and Paris (2010).

In 2000, Esther Shalev-Gerz created an imaginary home for Walter Benjamin. Taking as her referent his nomadic life and the importance of the Paul Klee painting Angelus Novus as a physical travelling companion and as an image of the Angel of History in his later writings, Esther Shalev-Gerz proposed an ephemeral dwelling for Benjamin in Weimar. This German city with a political and cultural legacy that emphasizes history’s resistance to being forgotten was once home to Schiller, Herder and Goethe, and hosted the National Assembly during the Weimar Republic. Eight kilometres out of the town are the concentration camps and memorials of Buchenwald and Dora-Mittelbau. The artist recorded on video a taxi journey from Weimar to Buchenwald and the view from inside the car. The shaky footage with its double exposure is accompanied by a voice reading texts by Franz Kafka, Heiner Müller, Gersholm Sholom, Paul Klee and Walter Benjamin. In the course of the journey ten photographic images called ‘Angels’, previously placed by the artist along the route, show the places where the past needs to be remembered. The installation and video are accompanied by photographs that refer to the directions of time according to Benjamin: a clock with two dials whose hands moves in opposite directions takes us back into the past, and two chairs placed back to back, which are only stable when two people sit on them, mark the future.

Born in Lithuania and based in Paris since 1984, Esther Shalev-Gerz is internationally recognized for her exploration of the nature of democracy, citizenship, cultural memory and spatial politics. Her installations, photographs, videos and public sculptures dialogue with these concepts and with the way they can contribute to the contemporary discourse on the politics of representation.

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