On Death at Odeonsplatz – Collaboration with artist Emmy Horstkamp

A couple of nights ago, I stopped at the U-Bahn station at Odeonsplatz and watched people pass by. I watched their reactions to the video instalation that Munich artist Emmy Horstkamp has developed based on my story On Death. Some people stopped and looked, others passed right by. In their transit, they all carried smaller or bigger pieces of luggage.

Leave Me Alone

I met the multitalented artist Emmy Horstkamp almost by chance, at the 500 Artists Say Hello event, one of the many events she has recently hosted in Munich. After a quick exchange of e-mails, we decided to work together. Her video installation “Will God Leave Me Alone?” is based on my short story On Death. Both are on display at The Window at the Odeonsplatz U-Bahn station in Munich until June 19th. You’ll find the window near the exit heading to the San Francisco Coffee Company, right next to the cash machine.

This collaboration has opened my eyes to possibility. It has reminded me once again that we as writers cannot and should not aim to control the reaction of our readers. Emmy’s visual intepretation is wonderful, and so different from my own, yet I can resonate with it. This is the beauty of art. We try to establish a dialogue with an other, and even when it works, it will never be exactly the same experience for both of us, but if we’re lucky, we’ll both feel a click. Emmy’s visual interpretation of my story gave it new layers of meaning.

A burnt book of hurtful words

Photo credit: Emmy Horstkamp

It also gave me the shivers to hear Emmy read my story. Obviously I was familiar with the text (I have edited and re-edited it so many times!), but there was something new, an element of surprise.  Her vocal interpretation wasn’t necessarily how I was reading it in my mind, but I stayed open to the experience. It once again had the original rawness of my first draft, but this time in someone else’s voice.

I am not religious, but it felt like a transcendental experience. Which is precisely why I feel empowered to seek further collaborations with local artists. Let’s transcend the borders between disciplines together and add new and unexpected layers of meaning to our work.

Before I left left the U-Bahn station that night, a middle-aged man stopped in front of The Window. He was carrying an old-fashioned leather suitcase. He did not notice the suitcase on the other side of the glass, although he was facing it; he did not notice the chair that had been placed there for rest, the sunshine and the trees. He only looked at and inside his suitcase. He opened it and neatly folded a sweater after adding a bag on top of what was already there. He closed the buttons of his rain jacket, arranged his glasses, and left. I left too, with things to do, places to see, life to live.



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