If the water is available, you need not clean up with sands. (Oriental proverb)
Where do we go and what do we see and recognize when strolling around some unknown places of life just not being connected by the wide boulevards standing in our detailed maps.
The distinctive planning can not be realized because the found path and situation will immediately draw another picture and dreaming of reality. Time to listen to the many unheard voices hiding in the fringed relicts of the green.
Postcard by Artistampex, Canada
People think today that everything is so much better and unique today with all this technical progress and the digital virtual world. But people managed to live quite well with analog techniques in former times, and even blogging did exist long time before in the 20th century (and till today) by using simply the old international postal system which till today connects the world.
Creative people following the ideas of fluxus formed in the last century an international mail-art network of artists for collaboration, inspiration and support beyound the commercial and institutionalized forms of visual art. And I have been part of the same in the 80s of the last century such leading to a lot of nice and unexpected surprises when going early in the morning to my letter-box.
Serigraph on postcard by Ryosuke Cohen, Japan
Stamp-art on envelope by Matty Jankowski, U.S.A.
Especially for creative people in the East-European countries this communication was very important and vital before the political changes of 1989 and the years to follow. But also for all others this was an appreciated independent and free gate to the wide world. The collaboration in this network comprised also real projects and challenges like in the blogosphere today.
Very common were mail-art object magazine where for each edition people could send 100 copies or pieces or originals, etc. in a special size, the editor would then compile the diverse entries to 100 diverse mail-art object magazines, and afterwards each participant would receive one copy of this back home by the post.
Other forms of collaboration in this sector are wandering changing art objects (more on this in a future post), and mail-art shows with special topics where each entry from the diverse countries will in any case be presented in the show whereever (living-room, institutions, public showcase and today also in the internet or blogs) followed by some kind of documentation for each of the participating persons (poster, brochure, small catalogue, etc.).
This kind of mutual international exchange follows of course another velocity than the contemporary digital world, but movements like slow cities or slow food proove that not everybody is happy about the recent virtual developments which have happened mainly in the last 2 decades. So, here you see some pure analog artistic stuff like beautiful postcards and envelopes, varied stamp-art and inspiring objects which reached me via the international postal services.
Mail art object by Géza Perneczky, Germany/Hungary
Collage/Copyart on postcard by Richard Meade, U.S.A.
The last piece shown here at the very end is really a quite robust-crazy object from my archive brought to me by a postman, a simple red brick with the inscription Einstein standing for both a stone and the famous physician. The brick was delivered by the post unpacked as a parcel, on the backside of the brick my name and adress were also inscripted reminding a little bit to petroglyphs from ancient times.
Information on actual mail-art of today and present times can be found in the blog-links hereunder:
Some visual examples here what may intrigue the mind when looking up here and there. It just depends on where to be and what to focus significantly in our varied ambience.
Archaic playable fanfare – reconstruction of 20th century
Blue sky and city mural at Berlin-Spandau
Here are some of my favourite photos and/or places – just a very small selection for today’s pleasant viewing:
Flowers are a great passion in my own self-raised jungle.
Late afternoon on the outstanding clear Weissensee at Carinthia, Austria
Curious wildcat (felis silvestris) at animal park of Assling, Austria
Autumn is approaching steadily now each day.
Urban still life on our green balcony
Black swans (cygnus atratus) from Australia at animal park of Assling, Austria
Old El Puertito, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
View on the Atlantic Ocean near El Puertito, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Hiking in the Valley of Montafon, Vorarlberg, Austria
View on Rhaetian Alps, Valley of Montafon, Vorarlberg, Austria
In fact this site in Berlin comprises one of the most weird locations which I have visualized and explored so far. What I am showing here is however not at all comprehensive as this huge premises tends to be more a wild industrial labyrinth of ruins in continuous change, a real adventure playground with varied looks and diverse risky ambitions.
The place is better known under its original name Flughafen Johannisthal and was in use as an airport until the early 50s of the last century. Being situated in the Eastern part of Berlin the facilities were then changed to a huge industrial production area of cooling devices by the administration of the former German Democratic Republic being called VEB Kühlomat. After the unification of Germany this industrial site was closed in the early 90s of the last century and set into a deep sleep till today.
I have visited the strange place in early September for a couple of hours and therefore only seen a part of the endless technical jungle where nature tries to cover all again quite quickly. Everywhere debris is lying in the way like thoughtful obstacles but more dangerous are unexpected holes in the grounds and the poor condition of the halls, hangars and buildings where several fires have occured in the recent years such making the site not safer and a bit spooky in general.
So when loafing around this particular enchanted place several nervous and insisting noises always accompanied me on my obscure way so as if the ground was mourning and complaining about its fate – groaning wooden beams, dissolving walls and a curious sharp wind drifting around the next dilapidated corner leading to a contradictional but pure amazement overall.
The fabulous site attracts a lot of creative people as an open and free space for their multiple ambitions in the sector of murals and graffiti. And it is fascinating to realize how a little bit of colour can change a place of decay to something else and again completely new.
You may still find quite a lot of places like this in the German capital but the number is anyhow decreasing. So it is also not clear how long this site will exist in its actual shape furtheron because the building of new houses with urgent required appartments is planned here by the city for 2021.
If you intend stepping into this labyrinth, it may be found in Berlin-Treptow at Segelfliegerdamm. You have only to look for options in order to cross the fence, such opportunities are always available somewhere.
Monochrome look in newspapers, photos and television seem far away today but watching for example black/white television was really an amazing, new and big thing and experience in the early 60s of the last century for me when I was simply a quite young boy.
My brother, a friend from the neighbourhood and me (left to right), 1961
Those days living was so much different, and as a result of WW II the housing need was incredible big. So untll 1963 I used to live in a very small family house together with my grandmother, three aunts, one uncle, two cousins, my brother and my parents, alltogether twelve persons where today not more than six people would usually stay.
I do not know how my mother managed all this, as we had in fact only a small living-room being also the kitchen plus a room for sleeping. These were very confined space conditions, but without knowing anything else, I was happy with it. In the backyard of the house my uncle was running a small workshop for manufacturing and repairing upholstery, and there you would find also some chickens and a small garden with vegetables and some fruit trees. So it was a quite busy and never boring place overall on a rather little premises for so many people.
Scyscraper vision in the naive-modern style of the time
Due to great and extended social housing projects everywhere we fortunately got a bigger and much more modern appartment with a fair priced rent in 1963.
Actually in Europe each year 4 million people are constantly or temporarily without home, moreover the rents in a lot of cities are simply unaffordable for many people and/or housings are just missing. This is the prize of an unrestricted neo-liberalism in the EU since the 90s, so a different and social policy would be barely required now.
Cool winds by now signalize the approaching autumn, so bloom dahlias, night frosts will hence come round in a short while and chase away you again.
Like many other flowers dahlias originate in Meso-America. Martin Kral writes in his well-researched paper Of Dahlia Myths and Aztec Mythology: The Dahlia in History that Aimè Bonpland and Alexander von Humboldt saw dahlias growing all around them as they traveled through all Latin America. But the first recorded picture of dahlias was designed by the native Mixtecs in Mexico in the 14th century which shows a Mixtec woman using dahlias in the form of headbands as a part of matrimony (see graphic hereunder). Other daily or ritual uses of dahlias by the Mixtec and/or Aztec culture are so far not known because only few documents survived the Spanish Conquista in the 16th century.
Mixtec Palace of the Columns, Oaxaca, Mexico
In 1529 Friar Bernardino de Sahagún arrived in Mexico and would later write the first Western account of the dahlias. But only in 1790 the first seeds were sent from Mexico to botanical specialists in Madrid who did successfully raise the first plants in Europe shortly thereafter in 1791. During that period the species’ name dahlias was subsequently created in order to honour the Swedish botanist Andre Dahl.
During their famous trip leading to South and Central America (1799 – 1804) Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland did a vast research on plants and nature in general. When returning home to Europe in 1804 Alexander von Humboldt brought seeds of Dahlia coccinea to Berlin while it is assumed that Aimé Bonpland had presented Dahlia seeds to French Empress Josephine for her large collection of plants. In 1805 seeds are successfully germinated and also flowered in Germany and as well in England while in 1818 the first exhibiting of dahlias took place in Scotland.
Claude Monet, The Garden at Argenteuil (The Dahlias), 1872
In the 19th century dahlias had spread over all Europe, there existed for example the Czech Dahlia Society, and besides it is also known that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe raised dahlias in his private garden, while in England the illustrious Lady Holland increased the popularity of these flowers. A real center of European dahlia culture became the small Thuringian town Bad Köstritz, where the commercial raise of dahlias was established by Christian Deegen in 1824 and with great success is existing till today.
Thousands of different dahlias are today to be found, but these hybrides are often much different compared to the wild plants still to be seen in Meso-America. The best overview on this subject offer dahlia gardens which may be visited in late summer at diverse locations in Europe like Milnthorpe in England, Gera in Germany or La Source in France and elsewhere of course.
All flower photos made at dahlia garden of Hamburg, Sept. 2018