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Walter Benjamin: A reflection in pictures
Start Date 08/04/2011
End Date 19/06/2011
Location Munich 
Country Germany 
Description Architecture and art have played a particular part for Walter Benjamin, because the relation of the past to the present was not of a temporal but of a figurative nature for him. Thus, according to his conception, the past could converge with the present via a flashlike image to form a ‘constellation’ and produce a ‘profane enlightenment’. Just like a configuration can be seen in the bright spots of a starry sky, interpreted as an astronomical constellation, the past is captured in a ‘dialectical picture in a standstill’. The conceptual arguments are only the ‘reverberating thunder’. Not only works of the visual arts, like Paul Klee’s water colour ‘Angelus Novus’, but in particular buildings and cities provided such dialectical images for him, as a ‘past become space’, for instance with arcades, panoramas or interiors, which made him see through the dreams, ideals and phantasms of a collective.

For a long time, the concrete pictures in Benjamin’s thinking had little attention in comparison with his ‘thought-images’, only in the past few years his specific imagery became the focal point of research. While present studies pursue single aspects and examine selected examples, the project “Walter Benjamin. Constelaciones” by the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid tried to visualize Benjamin’s most important concepts in a filmic montage. The film, compiled by César Rendueles and Ana Useros under the direction of Juan Barja, was led back to Benjamin’s texts for the presentation at the Architekturmuseum der TU München, complemented with a composition of several major architecture-picture-text-relations. The cinematic montage, which gives Benjamin’s ideas a visual dimension and thus integrates them again into the world of figurative perception, makes its whole complexity conceivable by including the explanations in the catalogue. A time-code provides exact references to the film and hence the explanations are easily traceable. Exhibition and film are attempting to open and deepen, respectively, the way to Benjamin by means of ‘a reflection in pictures’. 

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