My Friends of the Sleepless Nights
Long gone are the days when the courier came bearing mysterious letters. Today one finds these letters in the museums – yellowed, in beautiful handwriting, sometimes perfumed or bound with silk ribbons. We know them from literature. Often with wax seals and pristinely written with quill pen and ink; letters to one’s lover, letters from the front, conspiratorial letters. Many of them were life-changing or even life-and-death letters whose secrets often first came to light after demise of their recipients. Many letters can be admired in the Post Museum (today the Communication Museum), for instance letters from Catherine the Great to her lover Orlov, or the lively correspondence that King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia (his subjects called him “Der dicke Lüderjahn” or “The Fat Profligate”) had with his mistress Wilhelmine Enke; the king’s innumerable misspellings are amusing.
From my girlhood I remember waiting for the mailman and those colorful picture postcards – great promises of happiness! My yearning was awakened for strange and exotic ways of life, for sun and summer, for Capri and amore. In the days of mail delivery we jetted to these places and discovered that not every yearning wish could be fulfilled in remote lands.
Back then writing was a more personal form of communication, the writer more creative, the stamps more colorful. For two decades I was able to delight people with my watercolor cards – cards for the birth of a child, for the birthdays of adults, for weddings, cards of condolence ... there were motifs for every occasion. There were flowers in a riot of color, astrological signs, weeping hearts, fairy-tale figures, and angels – guardian angels, those providing solace, and others as good companions. Special events demanded special sentiments that expressed love, esteem, and sympathy. The cards were framed or tacked to the bulletin board ... and then one day disappeared. A new age had dawned – the age of virtual reality. With its acceleration of time, this age is incapable of waiting hours or days for that which one can have in a fraction of a second.
So, what to do with those tiny watercolors that I worked on long hours at the kitchen washbasin – what to do with those friends of my sleepless nights – my pajama pictures? What to do with the ghosts and stars and angels and street urchins? And then I had the sudden inspiration of juxtaposing them in collages – as fragments or in their entirety, whether torn or cut or pasted – and thus bestowing upon them new companions and having them undergo a metamorphosis. May I still call myself an artist if I snip, shred and redeploy everything? If I am light-minded and playful and no longer paint but simply recompose? Am I then a recycler? If so, then I’m an artist of the future! Only time will tell ...