Roots and routes


  03:50:00 pm, by   , 433 words  
Categories: Art, Collage

Roots and routes

Coming back from a family meeting in Hannover/Germany and sitting in the plane for Paris, I heard some French words and immediately, violently felt at home, free. Why did I experience this sensation of imprisonment in Hannover? I can identify two reasons. The first is the way how people of my German family deal with norms, their narrow-mindedness, their lack of humor and of wit. The second reason is biographical. I was born in 1941 under Hitler from a Jewish mother whose family came from Russia, and a German father deeply rooted in Northern Germany. I learned my origins by chance from a third person, at home origins were no topic of conversation after the war. I felt torn between two origins and decided later to choose the French language as my home country, a sort of middle way. So, my roots: Germany (Europe) had trapped my family; the only issue was death (the frontiers to Switzerland and the US were closed to us). Staying in the country would have implied an unbearable proximity with the possible accomplices of a tradition that had aimed at wiping me out. When I was 19 I made a break and went to… Switzerland and made French my primary language. I cannot say that I feel like a Frenchman or a Swiss or a German, my roots don’t reach the common ground. That’s why I prefer the term “routes” (that is, “roads” instead of “roots”), even if this entails some difficulty in understanding the behavior of other people whose roots are nurtured by elements I reject. Being confronted with the habit of talking and acting as if roots could be taken for granted makes me feel like an alien intruder who has no air to breathe. « Being confronted with the habit of talking and acting as if roots could be taken for granted makes me feel like an alien intruder who needs to hide

Does this explain my collages and why I create them? I don’t think so. My mother liked to draw; her brother Leo was an artist and one of her sisters- Anya- too. But maybe the split in my origins could have exerted an influence behind my back? Indeed, in my opinion collage is often about putting things together. And here again, I favor routes over roots, preferring the mobility of collage over more established means of expression. Even an installation seems grounded to me. But this doesn’t mean that I reject any roots, on the contrary, I cherish the great masters, the great schools of the past, but I try to follow my own route.


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Blog on art, centered on collage. It is meant as a sort of logbook of my creative work.


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