Art as the public overcoming of fear

by time news

BerlinThe poet, filmmaker and playwright Thomas Brasch died twenty years ago in November. The International Literature Festival Berlin (ilb) wanted to show that it has not been forgotten with a multi-part series of events. The diversity, the complexity of his work came to light. A round of talks on Saturday was apparently designed to look ahead: There were director Andreas Kleinert, whose film “Dear Thomas” is coming to the cinemas soon, the set designer and sculptor Alexander Polzin, the Brasch’s grave sculpture in the Dorotheenstadt cemetery in Berlin, and the musician Masha Qrella, who set and sings Brasch’s lyrics for her album “Woanders”.

Regrettably, both the writer Annett Gröschner announced for the podium and the predicted presenter were not present. The gentleman, who, as he said, had only been asked to lead the interview two days earlier, unfortunately hadn’t even had the time to google the biographies of those on the podium. After all, he already had a duo relationship with them. Alexander Polzin was asked: “You work as a sculptor, you are probably also a painter, tell the audience what you are doing.” But he was clever enough to tell the audience in the crowded concrete hall of the Silent Green what he was doing meant creating the plastic for the cemetery. That wasn’t particularly difficult simply because he was friends with Thomas Brasch. His radical artistic claim challenged him. “He practically sat on my shoulder while making the designs.”

Joachim von Vietinghoff reported from the audience, who has produced two films by Brasch, who may sound familiar to some as a contemporary witness in the great documentary “Family Brasch” from 2018. He wanted to know from Polzin how he had experienced Brasch, since he was first to him in his later years and even at a very young age. Alexander Polzin was 18 when he showed the admired poet his pictures, eager for recognition, but was initially offended. But that’s how Thomas Brasch was, he took this work so seriously, and he read texts to him at night, registering every reaction, every twitch of the eyebrows. “For Brasch, art was also the public overcoming of fear.”

“If you love, you quickly transfigure”

Another question from the moderator is also reinterpreted by the person addressed. “What was the rebellious thing about Thomas for you?” Is what Andreas Kleinert is supposed to answer, but he rather speaks of how he tried not to idealize the artist, the poet, the radical seeker. “When you love, you quickly transfigure,” said the director. “But his poems still speak to us.” That would have been the moment for an in-depth conversation with Masha Qrella. She indicated that after a video shot in Moscow was shown, she had also discovered questions about the relationship to her own family in his work. Anyone who knows her album “Woanders”, which was released in spring, knows what a family thing it is. Her grandfather Alfred Kurella, who came to the GDR from Soviet emigration late, was, like Brasch’s father, an important cultural politician in the GDR.


Masha Qrella

Diana Näcke came forward from the audience, she is a director and shot the videos for Qrella’s “Somewhere else”. She said she had just come from Istanbul with a group of people, where Masha Qrella’s concert film with Turkish subtitles was running and sparking conversation. “These are texts for today, no question about it.” No wonder that the hall filled up even more afterwards. Because at the end of the Thomas Brasch cycle at the ilb, the musician played the songs from “Woanders”. And with that the festival came to an end, ten stimulating days under the sign of the comma. The punctuation mark that the ilb uses as a sign shows that writing, speaking and reading go on and on.


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