Der Fortschritt des Erinnerns

Mit Walter Benjamin und Dani Karavan in Portbou

70 years ago, in September 1940, Walter Benjamin took his own life in Portbou, Spain, near the French border, fleeing the Nazi regime. The artist Dani Karavan, born in 1930 and living in Tel Aviv and Paris, dedicated a memorial to his thinking and to the memory of his fate, which was opened in 1994. It consists of several stations and also includes the fate of many others who had to lose their lives there or were able to save them.

  • Author: Sigrid Hauser
  • ISBN: 978 3 8030 3344 4
  • Size: 17 x 23,6 cm. Hardcover
  • Edition: 1st edition, original edition


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  • “Der Fortschritt des Erinnerns” makes Dani Karavan’s memorial site comprehensible as a place of contemplation, self-reflection, and engagement: with the site, with history, with the present, along five different paths and with many of the author’s photographs.
    The artist has provided some previously unpublished drawings and watercolors for this book. By marking the here, so to speak, and opening the view to a there, Karavan’s individual stations at the same time point to the future, and this concerns the question of where this remembering can lead us, and what role we play as spectators.
    “The Progress of Remembering” reconstructs, on the one hand, the architectural and urban planning potential of such a memorial for a place away from tourist centers and, on the other hand, reflects on how the debate on remembering and repressing has been forgotten. An essential question in this context is the appropriation of remembrance by political interests as well as the compatibility of cultural tourism and mass tourism. The concept of progress – in the sense of Walter Benjamin in connection with the concept of time of decay – accompanies the corresponding philosophical trains of thought.
    In a prologue, Pablo Picasso’s Guernica and Constantin Brâncuşi’s monument in Târgu Jiu – both created in 1937 – are used to question the significance of the work of art in connection with remembering. In an epilogue, artistic contributions by Hans Kupelwieser and Jochen Gerz and theoretical references to literature, philosophy, and film are used to supplement the discussion of forgetting in this process. The progress of remembering follows a development: how the work of art becomes a concept, the concept becomes a monument, the monument becomes advertising. The consumption and appropriation by politics and consumption in the form of tourism concern open questions of the future of Portbou. That which is to be remembered is in danger of being forgotten in this way. But it is precisely here that art begins in its mutability and reveals something about the immensity of its secrets; Dani Karavan’s monument in Portbou is the example of this that can be experienced in several ways.

  • Author Sigrid Hauser
    ISBN 978 3 8030 3344 4
    Size 17 x 23,6 cm. Hardcover
    Number of pages 192 pages
    Illustrations 240 mostly colored illustrations
    Languages German
    Edition 1st edition, original edition
    Release August 2010


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