What is Odradek?


In the short story «The cares of a family man» which first appeared in Franz Kafka’s’ short stories collection A Country Doctor. Short stories, a family man tells of a strange form -Odradek- that haunts his house. Neither its name, nor its form, nor its behavior patterns provide much information about the meaning of its existence. To humans, Odradek remains a riddle.

In the photo of Jeff Wall (above), the American artist interprets the fictional content of Kafka’s’ story and its milieu and atmosphere – at an actual place (No 8, Taboritska Street= and at a specific time (18 July 1994). Various perspectives on time, place and action interlace in his shot in a way that is similar to film or theatre. Past and present are superimposed, and an open space of meaning is generated within the text. Kafka’s’ text conveys the influence of the subconscious, the hidden and the repressed on our imagination and understanding of reality.Walls’ cinematographic image corresponds to this, with a fluent exchange between the documentary and the fictional, between light and shadow, between what is in focus and what is blurred, between what can be seen and what only seems to be.

what: Odradek, Jeff Wall, photography, 1994

where: at the Center for Fine Arts, Brussels, part of the exhibition «The power of the Avant-Garde, Now and Then», (29/9/2016-22/1/2017)

when: Wednesday, 26/10/2016



The pillar portrait



Of all three Brontës Sisters this is the only  group portrait painting that survives, known as the «Pillar Portrait», painted in c1833 by their teenage brother Branwell, depicting from left to right: Anne, Emily and Charlotte. It is known as the Pillar Portrait because of the pillar which is where Branwell has painted himself out of the picture, the outline of his figure is just visible.

The Brontës were a nineteenth-century literary family associated with the village of Thornton in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. The sisters, Charlotte (1816–1855), Emily (1818–1848), and Anne (1820–1849), are  known as poets and novelists. Like many contemporary female writers, they originally published their poems and novels under male pseudonyms: Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Their stories immediately attracted attention for their passion and originality. Charlotte’s Jane Eyre was the first to know success, while Emily’s Wuthering  Heighs, Anne’s The Tenant of Wilsfell Hall and other works were later to be accepted as masterpieces of literature.

The painting was at Haworth Parsonage until the death of Patrick Bronte in 1861 when Charlotte’s widower, Arthur Bell Nicholls, took it with him to Ireland.

Mr Nicholls kept the portrait in a wardrobe, upstairs in his house. After the formation of the Bronte Society enquiries were made about the painting but he didn’t admit that it still existed. A poor photograph of it was discovered and a copy sent to him in 1897 but he wouldn’t acknowledge that his wife or Emily were portrayed.

The reason for this seems to have been that he didn’t want any image of Charlotte published, other than the idealised and flattered portrait by George Richmond. Arthur Bell Nicholls died in 1906 but the Pillar Portrait wasn’t discovered until 1914.

what:  painting by Branwell Brontës, 1833

where: on the internet (sources:wikipedia, http://www.brontesisters.co.uk/Bronte-Portraits.html)

when: 21/9/2016


Ὄνο νό Κομάτσι ἡ Ἰδιοφυής (16 ΤΆΝΚΑ)- Μετάφραση ἀπό τ᾽ ἀγγλικά: Σοφία Γιοβάνογλου


Ἡ νύχτα ἡ φθινοπωρινή
εἶναι μακριά μόνο κατ᾽ ὄνομα-
δέν ἔχουμε
παρά μονάχα κοιταχτεῖ
καί εἶναι ἤδη χαραυγή.
[ἀπό τήν ἀγγλική μετάφραση τῶν Jane Hirshfield καί Mariko Aratani]
Δέν σηκωνόμαστε
οὖτε γιά νερό
ἀφότου τό φεγγάρι ἀνατείλει.
Κυλιόμαστε ᾽δῶ πέρα
[ἀπό τήν ἀγγλική μετάφραση τῶν Jane Hirshfield καί Mariko Aratani]
Θά ὑπάρχει ἄραγε ἀκόμη
αὐτό τό ἁπαλό ρόζ χνούδι
στό τόξο
τοῦ λευκοῦ σου στέρνου
ὅταν ἐγώ στό σπίτι θά κοιμᾶμαι;
Πηγή: περιοδικό Θράκα: Ὄνο νό Κομάτσι ἡ Ἰδιοφυής (16 ΤΆΝΚΑ) [Μετάφραση ἀπό τ᾽ ἀγγλικά: Σοφία Γιοβάνογλου], για το video Art Magazine

Friedrichstrasse and the streets of Berlin through the eyes of a painter (Ernst Ludwig Kirchner) and a poet (Paul Boldt)


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Between 1914- 1916, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, having recently moved  to Berlin from Dresden, paints a series of seven paintings depicting street scenes in Berlin. Perhaps the most famous of these paintings/ scenes is  ‘Friedrichstrasse‘ painted in 1914. In it, the viewer is confronted by three elongated women (most likely prostitutes) who stand proudly in the foreground like three magnificent peacocks. Behind them stand anonymous suited men with blank expressions, suggesting the dehumanisation of individuals as a result of a modern life. The street is crowded, noisy and hectic, yet none of the individuals interact with each other. Kirchners’ street scenes portray an individual in isolation, the berlin society as Kirchner saw it; a bleak masses of people walking by each other, lonely and estranged figures with dark holes instead of eyes reflect the darkness that had begun to engulf him. Painted in dark colours, some of the sullen gentleman seem like shadows; a modern life stripped of its false glamour and splendor with nothing but a raw essential left; all the hypocrisy, obduracy,  materialistic obsessions and complete detachment from nature, God and true values of existence are presented without embellishment.

At the same time (1913-4), a poet named Paul Boldt also deals with the street walkers of the famous street (which at the beginning of the century was full of theatres and bordels) in his poem «Friedrichstrassendirmen»:

Sie liegen immer in den Nebengassen,
Wie Fischerschuten gleich und gleich getakelt,
Vom Blick befühlt und kennerisch bemakelt,
Indes sie sich wie Schwäne schwimmen lassen.

Im Strom der Menge, auf des Fisches Route.
Ein Glatzkopf äugt, ein Rotaug‘ spürt Tortur,
Da schiesst ein Grünling vor, hängt an der Schnur
Und schnellt an Deck einer bemalten Schute,
Gespannt von Wollust wie ein Projektil!

Die reissen sie aus ihm wie Eingeweide,
Gleich groben Küchenfrauen ohne viel
Von Sentiment. Dann rüsten sie schon wieder
Den neuen Fang. Sie schnallen sich in Seide
Und steigen ernst mit ihrem Lächeln nieder.


what: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Street Scene (Friedrichstrasse in Berlin) (Strassenszene [Friedrichstrasse in Berlin]), 1914, oil on canvas. 49 3/16 x 35 13/16″ (125 x 91 cm), Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

where: on the internet, ΜΟΜΑ exhibition «Streets of Berin», http://abeautifullbook. wordpress.com (On Books, Streets & migrant footprints, Jaap Harskamp) and https://byronsmuse.wordpress.com

when: 30/8/2016


Sidonia von Borcke:  the story of a sorceress


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Sidonia von Borcke was a Pomeranian noblewoman who was tried and executed for witchcraft. In posthumous legends, she is depicted as a femme fatale, and she has entered English literature as Sidonia the Sorceress. She lived in the city of Stettin, Germany (today Sczecin, Poland).

Sidonia von Bork is also the central character in Wilhelm Meinhold’s gothic romance «Sidonia the sorceress»: the  novel chronicles the crimes of the evil Sidonia, whose beautycaptivates all who see her. She is shown here at the court of the dowager Duchess of Wolgast, one of the early intrigues in a career that leads to her execution as a witch. Many of the details of her appearance are taken directly from Meinhold’s description, but the costume is derived from a portrait of Isabelle d’Este by Giulio Romano at Hampton court. This is one of the three figure studies, which were the earliest watercolors of Burne-Jones completed.

what: watercolour and gouache on paper by Eduard Burne- Jones, 1860, 33X17cm, at the Tate

where:  at the art daily app

when: 27/8/2016

Edward_Burne-Jones_Sidonia_von_Bork (1)

Shirley: Visions of reality


A look at how the film SHIRLEY: VISIONS OF REALITY by Gustav Deutsch transforms the paintings of Edward Hopper into cinema.

What: A video essay by José Sarmiento Hinojosa.

When: 16/6/2016 (discovered on the internet)

Where: Shirley, Visions of reality



Kitchen utensils under a different perspective




Furniture and other household objects feature prominently in Mona Hatoum’s work, often modified to explore the unsettling within the everyday. Grater Divide is based on a Victorian foldout cheese grater that has been scaled up to the size of a room divider that cuts aggressively across the space. Similarly, Daybed is based on a vegetable grater enlarged to the size of a bed that promises discomfort and pain.

what: Grater Divide, Mona Hatoum, Installation, 2002

where: Tate Modern, London, at the temporary exhibition Mona Hatoum (4/5-21/8/2016)

when:  29/5/2016

grater divine

A friendship tale



In late Renaissance double portraits served an important function as tokens of friendship or diplomatic gifts. In this Jacomo Pontorno’s painting the man on the left holds a sheet of paper where an excerpt from De amicitia – a fictional dialogue on the role of friendship by the roman politician and philosopher Cicero– is copied out.

what: Portrait of two friends by Jacopo Pontorno, ca. 1523/24, oil on panel, Venetia, Galleria di Palazzo Cini

where: Städel Museum, Frankfurt, at the temporary exhibition Maniera (24/2-5/6/2016)

when:  20/5/2016


Mu nieltman netorruprup Mantlein um


The tongue-twisting title of this Sigmar Polke’s offset can be deciphered by reading it backwards: purpurroten Mantlein um (Wearing a purple cloak). It is possible that the memory of the German children’s song Ein Männlein steht im Walde accompany the creation of this work from photographic images:

(…) Ein Männlein steht im Walde ganz still und stumm,
Es hat von lauter Purpur ein Mäntlein um.
Sagt, wer mag das Männlein sein,
Das da steht im Wald allein
Mit dem purpurroten Mäntelein.

what:  Offset print by Sigmar Polke, 1975, four colour print on cardboard, (75 copies), Deutsche Bank Collection at the Städel Museum

where: Städel Museum, Frankfurt, «Sigmar Polke/ Early Prints», temporary exhibition (2/3 – 22/5/2016)

when: 20/5/2016