Gestern Ich war ins der Märkisches Museum, to see the bears.
A brutal German gothic brick pile that smelt like a museum, the Märkisches Museum is situated am Köllnischen Park in Mitte.
In the museum, huge, room sized, maps of the city, dividing like a cell into its constituent parts, diminishing until it disappears around 720 into a circle of straw huts defending a mound, and then back further still into the cold, cold mud.
As if that were not enough, the wooden arms of a saint, its gilded sleeves revealing glass panes beneath which the bones of the beatified could be secreted for the congregation’s pleasure and, oh yes, the wooden rotunda.
An octagon of varnished twentieth century wood. Schmick but done well enough to pass for something older, the Märkisches Museum was closed down by the Nazis and later found itself hard against der Mauer.
The Octagon, surrounded as it was with No14 chairs chimed a bell like a SanFransican street car in an old movie. Summoned to the eyepiece. Focused, then chime; the internal mechanism rotates once and another stereoscopic slide click-clunks into view. Another view of this city in 1910-1912, horse drawn carriages on the streets of the insel at night – two men standing at Potsdamer Platz the crude 3d rendering the wires vivid, scratching the retina.
Clic, clunk. The mechanism again rotates and a general in Willhelmenian drag inspects the troops. Clic, clunk. The smiling faces of, now long since dead, children. In the sun, at Wansee.
This place might be imagined to have a sinister air, a Dracula’s castle full of minor expressionists and dubious bronzes but check out the print by George Schöbel.
An elegant nineteenth century aquarelle on grey paper, it depicts two tables hastily set up in the grand drawing room of a palace. On each there is a machine gun. Boxes of munitions sit on the carpeted floor. I plan to steal it.
In the garden were Tito, Maxi and Schnutte, the bears. Schnutte und Maxi schlaffen
but Tito prowled the perimeter of his brick bunker and pawed boredly at an apple spiked on a decaying Christmas tree. I cycled around them in a lazy S. I think about that Walter Benjamin footnote, dust growing even under revolution.
The Decaying Christmas tree is fast becoming the psychic totem of this town, though better for sure than some of the absurd Phalanxes it carried in the past.
The actress sleeps.
Today is my 32nd day in Berlin. Unter dem Roten Geweih.2/4/07 02.59am
more pictures at: http://picasaweb.google.com/david.e.selden/MarkishesMuseum