2004 – today
In newspapers, conversations, on billboards and advertising columns, and on today’s exterior facade of the Jewish Museum in Munich as well as on the internet (www.speaking-germany.de)
5 framed photographs, 3 framed newspapers
Munich In Four Courses (München in vier Gängen)
Sharone Lifschitz with Graham Westfield
2008, 29:22 min, one-channel HD video
Memorial as Parasite
Collaboration with Annika Grafweg
Shortlisted proposal for the Munich competition New Forms of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism.
Digital print collages on paper
If I Were to Forget You
Sharone Lifschitz with Graham Westfield
Single-channel HD video, 46 min.
Speaking Germany, an ongoing art project that began in Munich in 2004 by the London-based artist Sharone Lifschitz, visualises identity as a principle of encounter. In several German newspapers, the artists placed an ad reading: ›Young Jewish woman visiting Germany would like to have a conversation about nothing in particular with anyone reading this‹ and thus opened up an artistic space of exchange that is less oriented towards answers than towards a personal dialogue and its continuance in the social discourse.
Through an invitation to an international art competition for the new building of the Jewish Museum in Munich, in which Speaking Germany won the first prize, a dialogical principle was initiated whose results are visible until today on the facade of the Jewish Museum.
Sharone Lifschitz began the project with the ads in various local and national newspapers, then set off on a tour of Germany in four legs from April to September 2005, meeting a total of 45 individuals and couples who had responded to the newspaper ad. The conversations lasting between an hour and a day (some continuing to the present) took place without a predetermined course. Sharone Lifschitz: ›I had no pre-formulated questions, no plan of events and no central focus of interest. None of the persons I met was old enough to have been even just a teenager during the years of the war. Some had childhood memories; for others, it was history lying far in the past. No-one who had actively taken part in the war ever contacted me.‹
The artist then had excerpts from the conversations that came about in this manner printed on posters and ads in public space. The conversation therefore never reached a real end, but continued in the social discourse. From December 2006 to May 2007, text fragments from personal discussions and email correspondences between the artist and her dialogue partners appeared at public squares in the city of Munich.
Lifschitz divides the phases of publication and her video work with which she recorded impressions of the project according to the courses of a meal (as follows): Aperitif: Several introductory questions and assumptions. Starter: About the way we picture people we have never met before. To be seen in the city. Main dish: Conversations on nothing special and related themes. A last drink: Farewells, subsequent thoughts and a few things that were almost left unmentioned.
For her proposal for the Munich architecture competition New Forms of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism, Lifschitz questions the relation of Munich citizens towards their monuments and the role of monuments itself in the urban structure of a city. Together with the architect Annika Grafweg, Lifschitz proposed to commemorate the victims by temporary disappearances of specific landmarks of the city – each should vanish for one year, commemorating a specific group of victims of National Socialism. Instead of adding another architecture, Grafweg and Lifschitz suggested to block off the view of the Japanese Teahouse in the English Garden, and of one of the lions in front of the Royal Residence and several columns of the front façade of the National Theater in order to evoke consciousness for the victims. The proposal was shortlisted in the competition.
Sharone Lifschitz (*1971 in Be’er Sheva, Israel) studied architecture in London and at the Cooper Union New York before graduating in art at Central Saint Martins College in London. She lives and works in London.