The centre of Existenz, the “brain” of the space, is the distorted cube, red light streaming from its window. From its interior, men’s voices surge towards us ; we hear excerpts from Felix Nussbaum’s letters. The excerpts, both whispered and spoken, are superimposed to form a collage of sound, allowing the emerging thoughts to be experienced in acoustic form before being arranged on the walls of the Raum der Gegenwart, to be read one by one.
In the centre of one of the walls of the “brain” is an ancient symbol, the Star of David: the symbol of Israel and of the Jewish faith, but also symbolising the interweaving of the Mind (shown here by the taut white threads) and Matter (shown here by the taut black threads) – of the visible and invisible worlds – which only by coming together will form a whole. The dynamism originating from this symbol fills the exhibition space and adds a further dimension to the Raum der Gegenwart. Carried within both the black and the white threads is a red thread; the lifeline of the artist Felix Nussbaum. This lifeline traces the course of a life in abstract and concrete, the illustrative embodiment of the fate of a person who lived as an artist and was persecuted as a Jew.
At the front of the Raum der Gegenwart, the red thread remains joined to the individual, connecting the biographical details of Felix Nussbaum which are depicted on the walls of the “brain”. To the rear of the space, originating from the Star of David which itself is oriented towards Osnabrück’s former synagogue, the frame of reference expands, becoming more abstract and showing how Mind and Matter are separated and reunited once more. It is a universal analysis, a twist, but one that always carries the individual with it, symbolised by the red thread which finally draws everything together in the infinite cycle of creation and decay. Between birth and death we experience situations of departure, separation, isolation, doubt, and we are always accompanied by an existential dread.
Photographs by Gerhard Kassner
Architect Daniel Liebeskind about EXISTENZ
Brigitte Waldach’s installation Existence at the Felix-Nussbaum-Haus in Osnabrück is truly an inspiring one. The technique of stringing together cables to produce projected images is as stunning as it is thought provoking. She takes the architecture as a world that is penetrable by forces that go far beyond the building and creates her own light and shadows to illuminate the opacity of walls. The effect is profoundly moving because each line is a vector whose origin is unknown but whose destination we can see. At the same time, the flattened world itself corrodes the planes upon which it falls and continues to expand its energy towards a future that is as obscure as the past is irreversible. Brigitte Waldach has created a stunning, original, and highly specific work that brings Felix Nussbaum’s spirit to an unexpected rebirth in a museum dedicated to him.