On Freedom, Pain and Hope: German Art


Lecture on the German contribution to the visual arts: opening words by Prof. Geytee Ara, a perspective of the Islamabad College for Girls in Pakistan, Camaraderie (Thorak), Deer (Marc), Not the seed (Kollwitz), Mariano Akerman and part of the 50 students attending the conference "Art History: The German Case," (3 May 2010).

The weather in Islamabad today, according to the forecast was going to be 37-38°C. And this might have been the case in the interior of a well isolated building, for as a matter of fact outdoors, and exposed to the sun at 1 pm, the thermometer reached 55°C. Temperatures go seldom below 35°C in Islamabad in these days, where the weather is extremely hot. It is just the very beginning of the Indukushi summer. Just imagine its peak... Nevertheless, a group of solid students coming from at least three educational institutions attended Mariano Akerman's 115-minutes lecture devoted to German Art.
Themes such as freedom and identity, lyricism and death, oppression and destruction, oblivion and memory, reconstruction and reconciliation were the main topics discussed by Akerman. Students discovered important German artworks from the times of Dürer to those of Kiefer. They visualized the transformations of art in Germany along the centuries and appreciated the peculiar inventiveness of the chosen artists, and the philosophy and poetry behind in their artwork.
Despite the high temperatures, the level of concentration was remarkable. The material captivated the students and left them pensive. There were very few questions. This is understandable. Some people believe that lack of questions means a lack of interest. Not necessarily. Different human beings have different timings in their absorption, processing, and internalization of material, especially if it is complex and controversial. German art is often poetic, profound, and problematic. It hardly leaves somebody indifferent. Not in vain not a brochure of the event was left in the auditorium after the lecture was over. A constant you may say, for this was precisely what had happened after each of the other German lectures too. Wasn't this a telling-all?
Following ancestral traditions, Pakistani girls are modest and discreet. A few of them thanked the lecturer after the last German conference. Yet the students' attentiveness during the lecture was practically a constant. For they looked at the pictures carefully, with interest, and when asked, they did give a response, often as a group though. Students paid attention to ideas and technical terminology. They wrote down concepts such as Deutsche Kunst, gesto, composition, foreshortening, Renaissance, engraving, Art Nouveau, Brücke, Surrealism, and Bauhaus.
There are various ways of approaching art history. Some of them can be superficial, standardized, commercial. But this exploration of German art was like handling roses: perfume and thorns at once. Among the German Lectures, "The German Case" was a singular event, a moving experience for all those who attended today's meeting at the Islamabad College for Girls. And dealing with German art was definitely not vanilla.

"The German Case" was the last educational lecture of a series of five given in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The initial four conferences were organized and sponsored by The German Embassy Islamabad. The last one was given answering a request from the public, ad honorem, and with the double aim of bridging cultures and thanking everyone who contributed along this project.

The German Lectures, by Mariano Akerman
1. German Art: Its Peculiarities and Transformations
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
, Islamabad
2. The Artist, Modernity and German Society: Between Criticism and Approval
National College of Arts, Rawalpindi
3. The German Contribution to the Modern Visual Arts, 1500 to 1933
Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad
4. Reality and Imagination in the Visual Arts of Germany
Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi
5. Art History: The German Case
Islamabad College for Girls, Islamabad

References on the German Lectures
1. Islamabad, The German Embassy, German Art. Its Peculiarities and Transformations, first lecture brochure, May 2010.
2. Ishrat Hyatt, "Lectures Series on German Art," International The News, Pakistan, 14 May 2010, City News, p. 20.
3. Islamabad, The German Embassy, German Art. Its Peculiarities and Transformations, four lectures brochure, May 2010.
4. "Pak-German Visual Arts Discussed," Daily Times, Pakistan, 27 May 2010
5. Andreas Dauth, "Deutsche Kunst ihre Wandlungen und ihre Besonderheiten. Eine Vorlesungsreihe von Mariano Akerman," Botschaft der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Islamabad, Mai 2010; "German Art, Its Peculiarities and Transformations - A Series of Lectures by Mariano Akerman," The German Embassy, Islamabad, 28 May 2010, Education.
6. Islamabad, Islamabad College for Girls, Art History: The German Case, A Lecture by Mariano Akerman, fifth lecture brochure, June 2010.