Still Looking for Freedom?

Reflective Piece: Still Looking for Freedom?

“The world says: “You have needs — satisfy them. You have as much right as the rich and the mighty. Don’t hesitate to satisfy your needs; indeed, expand your needs and demand more.” This is the worldly doctrine of today. And they believe that this is freedom. The result for the rich is isolation and suicide, for the poor, envy and murder.” 

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1879)

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own. And I am not free as long as one person of Color remains chained. Nor is anyone of you.”

audre lorde (1981)

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.” 

Thich Nhat Hanh (1998)

“It’s just a feeling. It’s like how do you tell somebody how it feels to be in love? How are you going to tell anybody who has not been in love how it feels to be in love? You cannot do it to save your life. You can describe things, but you can’t tell them. But you know it, when it happens. That’s what I mean by “free”. I had a couple times on stage when I really felt free, and that’s something else. That’s really something else! I’ll tell you what freedom is to me: No fear!”

Nina Simone (?)

30 years after the end of the Cold War, Europe is in crisis. The story of one universal truth, that liberalism would be our liberator, that we were all equals and could achieve whatever we wanted if we just worked hard enough, is fading. Liberal democracy, market economy and globalisation didn’t quite turn out the way many imagined. The hope that the European Union would bring peace, security and protect people’s personal freedom and wellbeing is replaced by frustration and anger. Europe once represented liberty and security, now, for many, it represents liberalism – a failed promise – and people are looking to the right in order to find alternatives. 

When David Hasselhoff sang in 1989 „I’ve been looking for freedom“ over the last standing bits of the wall that had not only divided Germany but the East from the West – people seemed to know what freedom meant: no more division, no more war, freedom of speech, free elections, freedom to chose your occupation, your way of life and to be able to travel wherever you wanted to go.  

On paper European citizens have all these freedoms today, yet they don’t feel free. Instead many feel bound, by economic struggles, threatened by new people arriving, out of touch from political power. Europe never reached the point where the newly united people had equal chances to prosperity. Wars are still happening, even if not on European territories, European citizens are not excluded from their consequences. And we can say what we want, but to what benefit? 

Europe is a political construct and highly problematic in it’s position in world history. It’s borders as well as it’s purpose need to stay open for debate. The reflective piece: Still Looking for Freedom? wants to engage with different European perspectives on what freedom means and touch on the question whether a common idea of freedom could be a means to keep the idea of a united Europe, and possibly a more equal world, alive.

The research on this topic will be accompanied by recorded interviews with key thinkers in the field. The outcome will be published in form of a podcast feature in three parts. 

What is Reflecting Europe?

In 2019 ­- 30 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain – Europe finds itself once again at a crossroads: European society is facing immense challenges due to the shifting borders of Europe, elections and social transformations. The question of Russia’s role and its involvement in the major challenges in Europe is more relevant than ever.

The research and documentation project “Reflecting Europe” focuses on current European issues and on the “transformation year” of 1989 by creating a space for reflection and finding solutions through the cooperation of activists, media representatives and NGOs from Russia and EU countries. Later in 2019, the results of the project will be presented for discussion to a broader public in the form of a multimedia dossier.

Reflecting Europe is organized by the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Berlin.

Personal Background

Verena Spilker holds an M.A. in Cultural Anthropology, Political Sciences and Russian. In 2009 she founded Transnational Queer Underground and has been running it since. She works as a web and media designer, writer, researcher, organiser and teacher. She also draws and takes photos. In her work she likes to explore patterns of all kinds, and to make out the places of connection and beauty within them.    

Cover photo by unsplash-logoDineslav Roydev


Diese Webseite befindet sich gerade im Aufbau. Ich habe viele Texte und Fotos von Reisen und Momenten die ich hier nach und nach einfügen möchte. Aus der Vergangenheit, Gegenwart und auch in Zukunft. Realer Raum ist eine von mehreren Kategorien, die langsam wachsen werden. Warum Realer Raum? In der Kunst steht realer Raum für die Idee, die Umgebung als Teil des Werks mit einzubeziehen. Die klare Abgrenzung zwischen aktivem gestalten und (zufälliger?) Umgebung wird aufgehoben. Wenn ich mich durch die Welt bewege und beobachte, beschreibe, aufnehme sind die Grenzen auch nicht immer klar. Was kommt von mir und was kommt von außen? Aus welchen Gründen nehme ich etwas war, wo setze ich meine Prioritäten? Was lasse ich aus? Was ist es real? Der Raum ist da. Er und ich sind real, meine Worte sind es auch. Aber was liegt dazwischen?

Back in 2002 pt. 2


01: moldy peaches – nothing came out
02: okkervil river – happy hearts – don’t fall in love with
03: evan dando – why do you do this to yourself
04: the fiery furnaces – tropical ice-land
05: lady & bird: – walk real slow
06: her space holiday – meet the pressure – the young machines
07: the unicorns – i was born a unicorn
08: st thomas – dance to the disco – let’s grow together
09: xiu xiu – clowne towne
10: tilly and the wall – You and i misbehaving
11: cat power – lived in bars
12: amy millan – pour me up another
13: calexico & iron and wine – prison on Route 41
14: the decemberists – the mariner’s revenge song

Listen to 2002 Part I

Back in 2002 pt. 1

Eine kleine Zeitreise in das Jahr 2002. Mit Musik von:

01: Robocop Kraus – Fake Boys [Living With Other People|2002]
02: The Faint – Agenda Suicide [Danse Macabre|2002]
03: Bright Eyes – Bowl Of Oranges [Lifted or The Story is in the Soil… |2002]
04: Rilo Kiley – With Arms Outstretched [The Execution of all Things|2002]
05: The Libertines – Boys in the Band [Up the Bracket|2002]
06: Camera Obscura – I Don’t Do Crowds [Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi|2002]
07: Kimya Dawson – Wandering Daughter [I’m Sorry That Sometimes I’m Mean|2002]
08: The Knife – Heartbeats [Deep Cuts|2002]
09: Tok Tok vs. Soffy O – Missy Queen’s Gonna Die [Tok Tok vs. Soffy O|2002]
10: This Beat Is Lesbotronic [irrrk -records|2002]
11: The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1[Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots|2002]
12: Kettcar – Landungsbrücken raus [Landungsbrücken raus|2002]
13: Beat Happening – Indian Summer [Jamboree|2002]
14: The Streets – Let’s Push Thing’s Forward [Original Pirate Material|2002]

Listen to 2002 Pt. II

Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🇬🇧 on Unsplash

A TQU show at Whose Museum Malmö

I can’t quite remember how the first contact was established. Let’s say sometime last year I received an email from Laura, telling me and Tom or Judy, my flat mate and dear friend, about the Whose Museum and asking if we were interested in curating one of five chapters for the Whose Museum @KRETS together.

The Whose Museum came into existence in 2008 when Laura was on tour. There was a lab coat, a costume made by a performance artist and drummer who went by Dr. Storey, which is now on display at the Whose Museum. Dr. Storey made the costume with the badges and asked audience members to donate random things to the collection, some more badges were added, but also different objects and drawings.

Since then the collection has grown to include hair, smells, a belt made out of a burned flag and much more. The Whose Museum had some short term exhibitions in basements, bars and courtyards, but is now for the first time set at KRETS, a gallery in Malmö, for a whole year. 

Tom or Judy and I both immediately agreed to become part of this weird and extremely charming project, but decided to split our work up a bit. I would be representing TQU, bringing in some films from our short film nights and photos from a photo competition. Tom or Judy would create work from within the exhibition, and invite people to participate in a fashion show at KRETS, later making the work and fashion show into a film, which will then be represented on TQU. Together we form Chapter three of Whose Museum @KRETS, adding to the display of the amazing work of Alanna Lynch, Maria Wæhrens, Max Ockborn and others. 

So in preparation for this exhibition I sent out a call for photo competition on Climate Change/Climate Crisis and received a selection of very thoughtful submissions. I picked seven of those to be printed and to become part of the exhibition at Whose Museum. We also printed handouts for people to read the background stories of the photos. You can find all of them and their stories on TQU

We also picked a selection of films from our Short Film Nights in Berlin to be shown on a screen with headphones within the exhibition for the duration of this chapter. The program is about one hour all together and so far people have been visibly enjoying this opportunity, watching all or some of the films.

For the opening on Saturday, which to my delight was during the day and alcohol free, I gave a short talk about the work I do with TQU, how people can participate and the reasons why I think art and activism from queer perspectives can be (and might always have been) the most powerful.    

Lots of lovely people came. We had good discussions about different topics, one standing out, about the question of using nation states in the context of TQU. I had written and thought a lot about that at one point when I started TQU, but it has slipped a bit into the back of my head over the course of time. So I’m very grateful for the reminder and hope to have more discussions around that, so that I, we, can find better solutions. 

And as things always go, one of the participants knew one of the photographers in the exhibition, another had seen #TheGalleryProject in Prague two years ago and I’m sure there were more things overlapping that we just didn’t have enough time to find out about. 

I’m very grateful for this wonderful experience and opportunity. Working with Laura was so pleasant and inspiring, I do hope we keep in touch as friends and that our projects can find ways to collaborate again in the future.

Photo Competition: Climate Change

Topic: Photo Competition – Climate Change.

What? TQU accepts submissions in two categories: observation & action. Submissions can be single photos or photo series.

Deadline: May 26th, 2019.

From the website:

Climate Change is real. Some studies show that we have five years to make drastic changes, necessary changes, if we want to continue living on this planet. Others give us a bit more.


Native communities have been calling to put an end to destroying our earth for as long as colonialization has been going on and are still our planets strongest defenders.

How can all of us act together? How do you experience climate change where you live? What are you or what is your community doing to prevent climate change and further destruction?

This month’s photo competition allows for submissions in two categories.



How does climate change make itself visible in your region? What are the effects of climate change that you experience? Show us where society, governments, all of us need to direct our attention. Show us the effects it has on your community’s and the environment’s well-being.

In this category you can submit single pictures as well as photo series of up to five pictures.


What are you or people in your community doing to prevent climate change? We want to see people in action, we want to show that we have a chance if we don’t stay silent, if we take action. We want to show that we have a chance if we make changes in our lives, bigger or smaller changes, according to our abilities. We want to highlight how amazing and strong we can be.

In this category we accept submissions of single pictures.

Visit Transnational Queer Underground to submit.

Fool’s Journey – Wheel Of Fortune

Last September Jane asked me to draw a tarot card to accompany one of her wonderful poems for a book full of poetry and cards. I felt quite honored. The card was the Wheel Of Fortune and the poem one, I had previously translated for her for an event.

This is my translation of the poem:

Dein Haus ist ein Feuer ist eine alte Freundin die nicht oft anruft
aber deine Nummer auswendig kennt. Sie trägt
das Perfume von dem du sagtest es sei zu viel,
was sie auch ist. Sie wartet nicht auf deinen Anruf.
Das Feuer in deinem Haus schaut vorbei in der Woche, in der du deine Arbeiten abgeben sollst. Lachend, ein Lachen wie Klingeln, legt dein Hausfeuer
die Füße hoch auf deinem Küchentisch, verkohlte Halbmonde
auf ihren Solen. Du suchst nach Untersetzern, sagst deinem Hausfeuer,
es sei grad nicht die beste Zeit. Das Glas Wasser was du anbietest ist das letzte
Fuck You. Dein Hausfeuer senkt ihre Augen wie Leitern
und alle Kindern entkommen über die Fenster. Du sagst
dir selbst du seist glücklich als die Tür zuschlägt.
Du trinkst jetzt selbst das Wasser. Trotzdem, den nächsten Monat
ertappst du dich dabei nach dem Knistern der Statik zu lauschen,
die Rückhand an der Schlafzimmertür, um zu prüfen ob sie warm ist.
Es ist ein Jahr her und du bist auf dem Weg in die Stadt
als du um die Ecke biegst und sie siehst, wie die Freundin
aus dem Fenster im sechsten Stock lehnt. Sie riecht noch genau wie damals –
und du erinnerst dich an die schönen Momente, als sie dir
ihre Hand reichte, dir den Sprung ins tiefe Cabrio versprach,
lass uns in die Berge fahren. Wir lassen alles zurück und hauen ab.
Du warst noch nicht bereit aber jetzt klingt es verlockend.
Trotzdem, du schaust auf zu ihr, die sich um das Fenster einer
anderen windet. Sie ist nicht mehr deins; sie ist nur
eine Ansammlung von Brennbarem und Sauerstoff, dass du
treffen könntest wenn die Sterne es wollten. Du verlässt das Hausfeuer
ohne ihre Auswirkung zu sehen. Kaufst ein Ticket
für ein ganz neues Land, nur weg. Als du fliegst,
über die Schweiz, die Städte sehen aus wie Glut in der Nacht.

Jane Flett, publisher & poet about Fool’s Journey:

Fool’s Journey is a collection of 22 poems based on the Major Arcana of tarot, with 22 hand-designed cards based partly on my poem and partly on the corresponding Rider-Waite-Smith design.

The artists are from all different kinds of practices – tattoo artists, zine makers, ceramicists, costume designers, printmakers, musicians, directors, board game designers, writers, and a few professional illustrators too. Most are women and many are queer. The work they have created is full of glorious things and grotesque things, delicious oozing bodies, wolves and sunbeams and skeletons and UFOs.

As for me, I’m a weird, queer, witchy poet who likes to write about making out, made-up science, teeth marks and spells. These poems were mainly written at Can Serrat residency in the Montserrat mountain range. My work has been anthologised in the Best British Poetry, commissioned for BBC Radio, and translated into Polish, Croatian and Japanese. I’m also the author of Quick, to the Hothouse (dancing girl press) and Mashnotes (pitymilk press).

Wheel Of Fortune tarot card front and back.
my contribution

Photo background by Matthew Smith on Unsplash, collage and table by me.

Ausstellung: Zeichnungen / Verbindungen

Vernissage: Zeichnungen/Verbindungen

Wann: 14.06.2019 – 19h

Ort: Frauen*NachtCafé, Mareschstr. 14, 12055 Berlin

Verena Spilker ist eine queere Berliner Künstlerin. Ihre feinen Zeichnungen von Tieren, Landschaften und Momenten bauen eine Verbindung zwischen Objekt und Betrachter_in auf. Sie erforscht die Beziehung zwischen dem Selbst und dem Anderen. “Was sehen wir? Was sehen wir als menschlich, als gefühlvoll? Welche Beziehung kann ich zu einem Pufferfisch oder Wildpferd aufbauen?” Mit dem voranschreitenden Klimawandel stehen wir vor einer globalen Katastrophe. Können wir die fortschreitende Vernichtung unser aller Lebensgrundlagen noch abwenden?

Die Ausstellung im Frauen*Nachtcafé wird sowohl eine Auswahl an Zeichnungen von Tieren als auch eine Fotoserie über Bäume zeigen, die zur Auseinandersetzung mit diesen Fragen einladen.

Verena Spilker is a queer artist from Berlin. Her drawings of animals, landscapes and moments build a connection between the object and the observer. She explores the relationship of the self to the other. „What do we see? What do we perceive as human, as feeling? What connection can I establish with a pufferfish or a wild horse?“ With the ongoing climate change and our disrespect for nature we’re facing a global catastrophe. Will we be able to prevent the destruction of the environment, our own livelihoods and everyone else in it?

The exhibition at Frauen*Nachtcafé will show a selection of drawings of animals as well as a photo series about trees, inviting you to find answers to these questions.

Date: 14.6.2019 – 19h
At:  Frauen*NachtCafé, Mareschstr. 14, 12055 Berlin
wheelchair accessible

TQU Short Film Night: Inbetween

Last year, after successfully putting on five exhibitions for #TheGalleryProject, I decided that TQU was grown up enough to start hosting a monthly event in Berlin. I talked to the lovely people of FAQ Infoladen and they kindly agreed to let TQU join their collective.

As part of the collective we are now able to host events at FAQ, which has been super fun so far. The event series is called TQU-Tresen and events usually take place on the last Friday of the month. The very first event was a talk with Rurru Mipanocha, who took us on a journey to meet her wonderfully drawn creatures that build a bridge between pre-colombian traditions and today’s queer feminist perspectives. We also hosted a short film night in October with films made by people that had already participated in other TQU projects.

I liked the idea of the Short Film Nights quite a bit, because it is a very effective way to juxtapose different views and realities of queerness, which is something that is the drive for all TQU events and the website in general.

Very much in the spirit of: our differences are what make us stronger as a community, because through our different lived experience we can create a possibility for exchange, while still touching common ground through the familiarities that connects us.

So I sent out a call for short films and to my surprise we received more than 700 submissions. It was so hard to pick films to show and very sad for a lot of films that I really would have liked to screen, but that didn’t quite fit in any of the nights.

All together we will have five Short Film Nights this year, one, with the title Happy Endings, took place in February already, and the next film night coming up in April will screen films around the topic of Inbetween.

Visit Transnational Queer Underground to see the programme.

TQU Short Film Night: Inbetween

TQU Tresen: 26.4.2019 & every last Friday of the month
At:  FAQ Laden: Antisexistischer Infoladen Neukölln, Jonasstraße 40, 12053 Berlin, Germany
From: 7pm to midnight
smoke free during the screening
wheelchair accessible
donations welcome

Cover photo by unsplash-logoKT

Talk: Identity in Germany

A discussion/conversation under the theme of unwrapping German identity at NY University Berlin. Three speakers are invited to talk about their own experience and expertise on different aspects on German identity. Topics likely to be discussed are:

  1. Who are you and what are your interests/background in relation to identity in Germany?
  2. What is Transnational Queer Underground? What are its central/core values?
  3.  How has LGBTQ+ identity evolved in Germany over the years? What is the current status of the community in respect to societal perception?
  4.  Berlin is often seen as a progressive haven for the LGBTQ community. Is this truly the case, and if so, how is the situation different in the rest of Germany? 
  5. How has the current rise in right-wing rhetoric and protectionism impacted the state of the LGBTQ community in Germany? Are they in a more vulnerable position today than before? 
  6. How is gender and gender fluidity perceived here? Do things such as German language having only 2 gender articles (er/sie) impact gender identity and expression? To what extent?
  7. What does the intersection between sexuality and race in Germany look like? How do migrants and people of colour struggle with different notions of gender identity, and how, if at all, has the recent rise in migration to Germany impacted the gender movements?
  8. How does art combine with the gender identity scene? What has been the role and impact of the art scene in better cultivating a base for gender identity? 

Date: 18.4.2019
At:  New York University Berlin

Cover picture by unsplash-logoNoah Buscher

Workshop: Queer Art?

What can art/culture/activism do for the queer community and vice versa? And how can we do it best?

Workshop: Queer Art?

In this Queer Art Workshop we will be taking a look at the following topic: POCs*, Queers* and other people facing oppression have always been on the forefront of cultural movements. Oppression produces resistance and the oppressed have to be creative to find ways to survive. This creativity often results in brilliance, but due to a lack of resources, networks and a public voice, it can often only be acknowledged after it has been appropriated by members of the mainstream society.

How can we break this circle?

Do we want to break this circle?

Where would a shift in power relations actually leave us?

Seeing the turn that world politics is taking, we, the people who’ve been working towards and hoping for more equality for so long, need to stand united and strong. But how can we do that in a way that uplifts and includes ALL people? How can we decolonize art, culture, creative spaces as well as queer communities and society in general? How to deal with, accept and let go of appropriation? How to deal with anger, frustration, misunderstandings, hate and ignorance? And how can we use and acknowledge these experiences in our creative forms of expression and resistance?

TQU ( has been a platform for queer art and activism since 2009 and wants to facilitate more discussion around these topics. As a first step #TheGalleryProject was initiated in 2016 and over 40 artists from four continents have shared their artwork on TQU as a result. Some of the artworks were also shown in five exhibitions in Europe over the following two years

In this workshop, Verena, the founder of TQU and #TheGalleryProject will introduce you to the history of queer resistance and art and we will then creatively explore these topics, our own experiences and find out how we can change things ourselves.

Workshop: Queer Art?

At:  ArtGora Forum Riga ◼︎ 10.-12.04.2019

Cover Photo by unsplash-logoSean Lim

Anahit Sin Amor

Title: Anahit Sin Amor //

What? A new Website for Anahit Sin Amor – a Berlin-based storyteller.

From the website:

I was born in Belgrade, Serbia to a Czech mother and a Serbian father, but later moved around, living in the US and Prague, Czech Republic for a while, before anchoring myself for a good while in the UK. The first place I felt truly settled and at home, which in many ways it still is, was in London, though since 2007 I have been based in Berlin. I feel all of the places that I lived in and my family background play an important role in my personal narrative and I think all the languages that I speak have an impact on my storytelling

Though I believe that we are a sum of all our experiences as well as experiences we carry in our genes I believe that we are the architects of our own success and I am interested in overcoming perceived limitations, be it physical or psychological. I also believe in challenging social prejudice and the unlikely characters’ journey to success.

What I mostly write about is the human condition and things that I observe around me, just the same as the photographs that I take, trying to capture the beauty of the ordinary.

Visit Anahit Sin Amor to see the website.

Can I draw something for you?

In the last month I’ve probably made more drawings than in the last ten years together. I didn’t realize how much I missed drawing and I would love to spend more time doing it.

Can you help me? Do you need illustrations? Or know someone who does?

Send them my way. My dream would be to illustrate childrens books or stories, but I’m really open to many different things.

I really enjoy the design and layout work I do on the computer, but my brain, hands and eyes would be super happy to get more excersice away from the screen.

If you like what you see here – tell a friend or propose a project!

Totally open to drawing specific animals for friends and family for christmas or whatever else you can come up with!

Kiko Berlin

Title: Kiko Berlin //

What? Kiko Berlin – ist ein Kinderbetreuungs-Kollektiv, dass sich in Berlin gegründet hat. Sie brauchten eine Webseite um ihre Arbeit vorzustellen und Spenden zu sammeln.

From the website:

Wir sind ein Kinderbetreuungs-Kollektiv in Berlin, das die Teilnahme von Bezugsmenschen, insbesondere von Müttern*, an der politischen Arbeit rund um Rassismus und sozio-ökonomische Gerechtigkeit unterstützt. Wir bieten kostenlose Kinderbetreuung während Plenums, Konferenzen,  und Tagungen an.  Kinderbetreuung soll keine Hürde für die Teilnahme an Aktivismus sein!

We are a childcare collective of volunteers committed to supporting the participation of caregivers, especially mothers*, in racial and economic justice work. We provide free childcare for meetings, conferences, retreats etc. Childcare shouldn’t be an obstacle for leading and participating in community organizing!

Hier kannst du die Webseite von Berlin Kiko besuchen.


There was a night where me and a couple of friends met in one of our houses and we all made collages and had some drinks. And a really lovely time.

The collages I made somehow ended up becoming a bit of a story, about patriarchy, horses and drugs. Or something else? That’s for you to find out.

You can see them all on Leopardskin & Limes.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash, collage and frame by me.

A Window To The World

Last year I got invited to show one of my photographs in the two year exhibition ‘A Window To The World’ at Altes Spital Viechtach and then Bahnhof Kötzting, two concert places in two little towns in the Southeast of Germany.

A Window To The World – The premise

We would like to present every month one photograph in the space for a duration of one month. This photo should represent the photographer or at least giving an indication into a photographer’s work. Little, but efficient and remarkable.

Thereby every shown image should be treated in the same way. Each image will be shown in the same frame with the same window mount. But due to that, it’s individuality will be highlighted.

The frame will be small. 30 cm x 30 cm, the picture in itself (depending if it is square or rectangle) 10 x 10 cm or 10 x 15 cm. Tiny so to say. But that is important, because it is just a window to the world and should not replace your way of showing your work.

The presentation will be on and offline. In the space, local newspaper, on the webpage, in the gallery space. First individually, after a while together with all the other ones.

Much later we will do a group show, with the collection of images. During that exhibition, the image will be sold in an auction. The money, if nothing else is said by the artist, will go to the artist.

And of course… the copyright always stays with the artist. We just need the permission for printing one image and for presenting it on – and offline for project related work.

You can find out more and see other participating photographs here.

Missmatch – taken in Kyrgyzstan 2003

I took this picture in Kyrgyzstan in 2003. I was there for a summer program organized by DAAD to learn about Kyrgyz language and culture. But instead of getting me excited about the Kyrgyz language, the program inspired me to start learning Russian. Instead of teaching us much about Kyrgyz culture it taught me much more about the structures and ways German and other international organizations work in small remote countries like Kyrgyzstan. 

The program was called Go East and its intention was to bring the East and West closer together. But did it really? The local students we met spoke German perfectly, without ever having been to Germany and with hardly any chances of ever being granted a visa to go to Germany. At least that is what the German vice ambassador told us. She was depressed, having to represent and advertise a country that doesn’t actually want the people it is advertising to.

All the foreigners living in Kyrgyzstan seemed to meet at the local German beerhall. And all money coming in seemed to be distributed amongst these foreigners and their businesses right there. Over a beer or many more, they made friends and business, instead of giving the money to the local communities or entrepreneurs it might have been intended for.

This picture was taken at a camp near Issyk-Kul, the biggest lake in Kyrgyzstan. It shows a group of German students doing yoga at the camp site, in front of the yurts we were sleeping in. The German company that organized the camp charged 5 Euros per person per night. The local family that cooked for us three times a day was given 5 Euros to feed a group of 20 people a whole week.

Why did I chose this picture? Because it is absurd. None of it fits and it tells a whole lot at the same time. People facing inward when they should be looking out. It’s a mismatch. 

We left the camp after that yoga session, paying off the family for their services and threatening to sue the program if they kept putting us in exploitative situations where Germans are the only ones that profit.

When I take pictures I like to point out these kinds of mismatches and absurdities. Showing the things that you least expect. Beauty in forms and contrasts. The inside facing the outside. The hidden finding its way out and similarities that the uninformed would not think possible.

Inktober 2018

I’ve been meaning to take up drawing again for a while now, but I find it difficult to allow myself the time for fun things sometimes.

I haven’t really been drawing since high school. A birthday card here and there, but I really wanted to gain a little more confidence. And also to play around with lines and structures.

So when my lovely friend and flatmate Tom Moore asked me to join #inktober, I figured that there’s no better time to start drawing on a more regular basis than now.

I decided to just do black and white, because I wanted to explore freedom and variety within limitations and also because otherwise I could just switch to something else when I find what I’m doing is too boring. This way it feels like in order to entertain myself and others I really need to work a bit harder and get out of my comfort zone to keep it interesting.

So here we go. If you want to – let me know what you think:

Two dogs travel through time

Welcome. This is the page for Tobby and Izabella and their journey through time and places. If you would like to see them travel to specific places or meet your favorite people, or would like a picture of you with one or both of them, you can leave a comment below.

Just to get their cute faces out there and to learn new things every week. I’m already excited where this is gonna take us!

This is a #photocollage project with my two dogs, Tobby and Izabella, in which they will visit important places of #history and #pop #culture. It’s mostly for fun and because I think they are cute.

But I would also like to try something other than all the typical instagram dogs (or their people) where everything looks white, or pastel and people need to have money and so much time to take them to important places or photograph them in beautiful settings.

We only need a computer.

But I want to give you the chance to get involved as well.

Tell me who your favorite artists is, a historical event from your region that people should know about or a landscape that needs saving and I’ll take them there. Just leave a comment below.

xxx – so excited!

Time and Ukraine

So today a little more text and no drawing. Today’s #inktober topic is #clock and it made me think of the way time is used and how it is so related to identiy in Ukraine. I’m gonna try and tell you a bit about it:

I was living in the far western part of Ukraine, right on the border to Hungary. The Hungarians, the Ukrainian freedom fighters and the Germans fought together in WWII against the Russians. So when they all lost the war, like Germany, the Hungarians had to give up part of their land. Germany’s east became part of Poland and Hungary’s east part of the Soviet Union.

One difference (amongst many) is that while Germans had to leave eastern Prussia when Germany lost the war, Hungarians stayed where they were and it was only the border that shifted. This is why there is still a large Hungarian minority in Ukraine. (Also interesting in this context: The people that fought on the Ukrainian and Hungarian side and survived got imprisoned after the war and sent into Stalin’s camps, which made the Russian the enemy and the Nazis the heroes unquestioned until this day. I will have to write more about that at a different time, but I see that as one of the root causes of the ongoing Nazi cult and extreme nationalism in Ukraine’s west these days…).

Now since the establishment of the Soviet Union I guess (?) the time zones change at the border between Hungary (CET) and Ukraine (EET). The Hungarian minority in Ukraine however still uses Hungarian time, Roma and non-Roma alike. They all listen to Hungarian radio and watch Hungarian TV. In the villages they have their own schools where they are taught in Hungarian and only learn Ukrainian as a second language quite late in, if at all. They have their own churches and church services in Hungarian and their lives are absolutely dominated by Hungarian time (magyar szerint), news and identity. Everyone who can afford it, has a Hungarian (European) passport.

Catching the train, going to an office, going to some schools however works in Ukrainian time, or Kiiyv time (Kiev szerint). So basically whenever you make an appointment to meet somebody outside of the village you have to make sure, that you’re both talking about the same time zone. It’s really common. Mostly every sentece that involves a time includes a Kiev szerint or Magyar szerint and you really do get used to it.

I find it really fascinating. Becuase it also continues outside of the village. The Hungarian Reformed Church of Transcarpathia uses Hungarian time for their church services and everything related to church, while everything around them is in Ukrainian time. So you basically sit inside of a church and it’s one hour earlier for you than for the Ukrainian person walking by the church.

And then there’s more. For a week I stayed with a family in Lupokovo, which is in the carpathian mountains not so close to any Europenan border at all. The people who live there are Ukrainians (Huzul) and they, to my surprise and unlike the Ukrainians in the more flat regions of Transcarpathia also live with what they call European time. Everything in that village; church, offices, schools, etc. operates under Ukrainian time, they watch Russian TV (completely differnt time zones) and still in their private life, when they make appointments or talk to each other they use European time. Just because they feel more like Europeans.

So there’s that. And here’s some chicken in Ukraine. They also do a really good job as alarm clocks.