Goodmorning you all. First thing I want to say: when you reside in the very cold parts of the USA, please stay safe! The extreme weather you have there was even on the Dutch news… stay inside and keep yourself and your loved ones warm dears!
We did have a little bit of snow here in Zeeland last week… not enough to disorganize daily life but just enough to make the world beautiful.
Photo made by my friend Lena Schreijenberg
stuk voor stuk voorzien van een
one by one they put on a
I submit this haiku to Recuerda Mi Corazon where our lovely hostess Rebecca brings us all together to share a haiku on Friday: Haiku my Heart.
And do you want to know about the project I participated in? It’s quite a story, so sit down, grab a cuppa and let me tell you about it.
Add and Pass – PASSport collage project
Last December I received this message from a fellow-artist-friend, Robert Stockton, who lives in the USA.
“Hi, Marit- I belong to a Facebook group called ADD AND PASS – Passport Project run by Kevin Geronimo Brandtner who lives in Vienna, Austria. He finds old passports and sends them out to collage and mixed media artists. Each artist fills a two page spread with their art and then sends the passport to another artist to do the same. When the passport has been completed, the last artist returns it to Kevin where he has the Papiergedanken Mail Art Archive. I have just received an old passport from him which I am going to start (…) I wanted to know if you would be interested/willing to be the artist that I send it to after (…) – Robert”
He send me some photo’s of the booklet (which isn’t a passport, but I’ll tell you about that in a minute…) and I got excited right away, what a lovely project to work on! And so after Robert finished creating his spread, he send the booklet to me.
I noticed right away that this could not be a passport… but what was it then? Curious as I am, and not wanting to ‘just work in it’ without knowing the background of this booklet, I did some research. The text is in German and I am able to read and understand a little German (we Dutchies learn the language in highschool ànd I grew up/live in a touristic area where many Germans spend their holidays.)
The first page made it clear: this is not a passport but a Mitgliedsbuch which means “Membership-booklet” – prove that the person was member of the FDGB (a trade union.)
The booklet belonged to Rosel Kühn. Rosel was born on June 26, 1936 in Labschütz (Austria) and the booklet was given to her (“eingetreden”) in 1948 by FDGB in Geithain (East Germany.) Given her birthdate I figured she could still be alive so first thing I did was to search for this person on the internet. However, Rosel was only 15 years old when she received this booklet and Kühn must be her maiden name…. chances are big that she married and used her husband’s name from that moment on. I spend a few hours searching the internet but her name didn’t pop up anywhere so I shifted my focus to the FDGB.
“The Free German Trade Union Federation, in German Freier Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund (FDGB), was an East German organisation that existed between 1946 and 1990. (…) On paper the FDGB was the umbrella organization for about fifteen individual trade unions.” (~ Wikipedia ~)
OK, so now I got an idea of this booklet and it’s purpose back in the days… so I flipped to the next page where Robert created his two-page spread on.
Do you notice that Robert tries to paint a picture of Rosel’s life by ‘making up a story’ about her brother Klaus? I love this idea of “(…) artists creating a collaborative image in book form, even though it is fictional, of who this person might have been.” as Robert discribes it…
…and then I flipped to the two-page spread I was about to create on…
Back to the computer and back to translating German into Dutch, as there’s a handwritten text on the right page…
“Fräulein Rosel Kühn war vom 26.5.50 – 31.3.57 Angehörige der Deutschen Volkspolizei und brauchte [lt.? It.?] Vertrag mit dem Bundesvorstand und FDGB wahrend dieser Zeit keine Bestrage zu bezahlen.”
In short that is: “From 1950 to 1957, Miss Rosel Kühn was a member of the German Volkspolizei [German People’s Police] and during that time she was exempt from paying dues to the FDGB”
I spend a few hours more at my computer, reading about the DDR (East German) the Deutsche Volkspolizei (popular known as “Vopo’s”) the Iron Curtain and the Berlin wall… (which I remember well ‘falling’ in 1989, I was 26) – I didn’t know much about the history and was highly surprised my beloved immediately said “Vopo’s” when I mentioned the Volkspolizei… I just learned about it and it turns out he knows a lot about German history all along!
Anyway, during my research an idea grew in my head on how and what to create on these pages with respect to its history… not covering up the text and illustrating the fact that Rosel ‘was a Vopo’. Here’s the finished spread, and I will tell you how it came together…
- Photo transfer. The woman’s face is a photo of the actress Sonja Sutter who played a leading roll in the movie “Frauenschicksale”(Destinies of Women) – an East German film, released in 1952. This film sold more than 5,100,000 tickets. It was produced as a propaganda film which compared the lives of women in the two sides of divided Germany. The women in East Berlin were politically aware and organized while those in West Berlin were vain and materialistic.”
- Printed: German text “The longing for happiness is overpowering,” phrase used in a review about the film.
- Picture of a woman police with flag: by the time I started creating this spread my beloved’s interest was aroused as well and he found me the picture of a woman “Vopo”
- Stamped arrows, pointing to the handwritten text in the booklet.
Detail photo of the photo transfer; the stamps underneath still show through the face.
Detail photo of the handwritten notes in the booklet.
Now that I finished my spread, this booklet will be on it’s way to Sweden. I contacted iHanna and she is willing to create the next spread… it’s coming your way Hanna!
It was such an interesting and fun little project to work on that I might volunteer and ask for another passport to create in…
Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings today, have a great weekend. Stay warm.