A project by Paradise–Park–
University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf
with Prof. Anja Vormann
The OB-van Paradise–Park– is a mobile urban laboratory which belongs to the Department of Audio Visual Media headed by Prof. Anja Vormann of the University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf. It was approved by the Ministry for Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia as a learning and research laboratory for use in public spaces. www.paradise-park.de/category/public-research/
Deconstruction of stereotypical narratives
At the end of the Summer Semester 2021 the first meeting of the two German universities took place in Berlin. The occasion was a 10 day interview project by the OB-van team Paradise–Park– carried out in cooperation with the Jewish Museum Berlin. The interviews took place on forecourt of the Museum. A specific interview format was used to research, record and archive contemporary Jewish life in Germany.
In order to avoid stereotypical narratives concerning »Jewish life in Germany«, we decided to deconstruct the format »interview«, which we had already referred to as »conversation« in the first stages of the project. Language is not neutral. The construction of questions often implies the answers, and the style and cadence of questioning, which is more or less hierarchical, rhetorical, or scientific, automatically »positions« the interview partners far from their individual sensitivities. A conversation is less hierarchical than an interview as no one is assigned leadership. There were no leading questions – in fact, no questions at all. A trilingual set of terms on cards (German/English/Hebrew) was the element of interaction from which individual questions and narratives could be developed. The dynamics, who-asks-whom, how the cards are brought into play – drawn, jointly chosen, processed one after the
other – was left entirely to the mood and the interaction of the respective conversation pair. There was only one rule, a Jewish person always meets with a non-Jewish person.
A very important »protagonist« here was the set of terms mentioned above. These were intended as a tool for gaining entrance to the topics: political terms and terms relating to everyday life such family, celebrations, identity, friends, homeland, borders, reality, gender, technology, power, faith, food, appropriation, language, music. Although the connections from which questions and narratives were developed were very individual, in the evaluation of the conversations it became clear which terms are relevant and which are not, which terms are reconciliatory and which potentially contentious. Through consolidation of time, attention, variance, emotional involvement, etc., and by observing which terms received the most emphasis in the conversations we gained an overview of the current discourse on Jewish life in Germany.
The terms became softer and more fluid as they were contextualised by the individuals reacting to them, each differently and each within the context of their respective life, cosmos, experience, and language. This resulted is 25 video conversations that show a differentiated picture of Jewish life in Germany and are available as a travelling archive, for exhibitions, discussion, or for further research
The accompanying program was an exhibition in the project space feldfünf, which opens onto the forecourt. Here, the students’ »Work in Progress« projects were shown and discussed, cinema programs and lectures were held, and there was a live connection with the Israeli students. Parallel to this, photograph, film and installation works were exhibited in the UE Pavilion.