stumbling upon beauty

The news of a new war in Europe is rock-falling as the old war in the Middle East is still streaming strong.

“Flüchtende, die nach Süden ziehen, stehen bei der vereinigten Welt niedriger im Kurs als die, die sich nach Norden wenden. Söldner aus dem Westen sind zunächst weniger gefährlich als die aus orientalischen Ländern. Heimlich über die Grenzen eingesickerte Kämpfer sind blutrünstiger als die, die mit Flugzeugen kommen. Beide jedoch lassen den Dollarkurs steigen und erschöpfen den Gemüsemarkt.”


Polluted oceans and suffocated turtles with plastic can holders and seagulls soaked in spilled oil, are the most simplified representation of man-made disasters on the planet- using paper bags instead of plastic bags seems to solve almost nothing- our conscious choice of avocado dressings as a vegan natural alternative created an avocado cartel neighbouring the drug cartels in Mexico, money circulating in the wrong channels.

It is “Today, ” where conspiracy theories make more sense than the analytical political articles in resourceful newspapers and economic magazines. the alien trying to contact us through NASA sounds like promising news, while the theory of “dominant evil Reptilian bloodlines” ruling the planet, is one way to see the corruption.

Come,” a friend invites me, “the bar is an old famous place, visited by many artists and shifted through time in many phases, come, it is a nice place to visit!”

As the gloomy ideas poke me from within the small pocket I tried to bury them in, I try to have a conversation in the elegant cozy ambient bar.

Unna” my friend suggests something that I may be interested in seeing, “it is a nice city to visit.”

The waiter who was earesdropping and sometimes sharing our conversation, agrees.

Thus; Unna, it is.

After the church- that, naturally, takes its place in the middle of the main square in the West German town- or maybe the city gathers around the church- starts Unna’s main street of old houses displaying proudly the time that folded back while they are still standing, humble beautiful living brown and white houses of wattle and daub.

Behind one corner is a garden planted on what looks like a three-steps high sidewalk, the chairs are colourful with interesting tables under big trees, the big trees have wind chimes, delicate and sharp glass-like tunes; “try me” the chimes say thus you climb the three steps, a trick well known of the aerodynamic kinetic art created by man!

Among the chairs stands a bright pink table with an old typewriter on top, and a sign written by hand, next to it is a tray of water for birds, on the wall at the back hang old compasses, recycled art, a couple of old vases decorated by playful

almost-childish designs, one orange jar with wide-open eyes drawn on it, stares at us as we stare back. Who said art should be safe?

The continuity of time pauses and the kinetic element does what it does best: Illusory motion and manipulation of space and time, those are distinct elements in kinetic art. “Beautiful!” we say in awe.

Stepping out of the wardrobe/garden with no sign to suggest to you to go left or right, but a small passage between two buildings invites you to use it to reach a hidden back yard, or maybe a back street.

The backstreet is an old main street, with houses of wood and clay, a piece of faint jazz music leaks out from an open door, suggest we may enter, as the garden previously invited us in with colors and chimes, thus the jazz music and the open door do. inside the music gets clearer now, a short doorway where frameless pictures were hung, then a stairway with a red sidebar leads up, to an attic.

On the top of the stairs, on one long wooden shelf, Wonderland pocket-watches are reserved in a clear liquid trapped inside Mason jars. Next is a huge empty light bulb with dark ocean-like blue liquid inside, and two miniatures of divers trying to climb the huge bulb to reach the inside.

The satisfying feeling of being willingly snatched from reality! “Beautiful,” we say in awe.

Opposite the ocean-in-a-bulb stands a miniature bicycle carrying a miniature of a man floating on a wooden cloud, behind us is a wall picture of a metal spiral, and ahead of us a clock ticking moving miniature people stuck in time, repeating the same gesture.

The message is felt before it is understood. Kinetic illusion, aesthetic of time!

Who said kinetic art is innocent? It is the recycling of elements and goods consumed by men and time, it is the resurrection of the consumed, who said resurrection is a smooth operation?

Guten Tag, hallo, guten Tag” three distinctive voices coming from the next room to the right, we follow the voices as they are the only certain thing now.

A woman with dark hair, a man with round glasses, and a customer who is a neighbor, who would later become the proud owner of the ocean-in-a-bulb. The owners are the artists Frauke and Dietmar Nowodworskis who also created the sidewalk wardrobe/garden we visited before.

“But we were not allowed to do that!” Frauke says, “oh no, it was public property, we were supposed to have special permission to do so by the Rathaus, but we were not aware of that, we cleaned the corner, cleared the empty alcohol bottles, used syringes, the waste, and dirt …

We had already planted the flowers and the artworks when they called us saying it is not allowed, but they say what we did is beautiful, the sidewalk garden has no stairs though, and if someone falls it is the Rathaus’ responsibility! so they make the three steps on the side.”

Come,” says the customer/neighbour caught in my enthusiasm, leads me to shelves of used materials, renewed elements, toys, and daily life objects, reconstructed and brought to life recycled art. points at figurines caught in time, inside empty bulbs in a realm of their own.

Come,” says Frauke leading me to a corner kiosk “it is a real front of an old corner kiosk, full of what you call it kitsch, all useful colourful and alive, the corner kiosk was the place to know the news, all news, from the neighbours’ gossips to the world events, more reliable than the newspaper’s news.”

Come,” says Dietmar waving for me to follow as I scurry so I will not lose him in some hidden corridor. One room inside another and we are inside his workshop. The back room of the attic

The time hangs from the ceiling by fishing strings, carrying some-finished-some-not installations, some are waste forming ideas yet to come to life. spirals, wires, holding miniatures, pointing to different places inside their world, space is taking the shape of a light bulb, time can freeze midair and dissolve.

Which direction is Berlin?” I ask looking at a big round compass on a piece of wood, under a stone from the rumbles of the old church, we try to determine where Berlin was “all cities can be anywhere, the compass rearranges the world” Dietmar laughs.

Outside, back in the old streets of Old Unna, where houses of dark timber and white clay stand straight, while time has folded back. high on a corner of two buildings hangs a statue of the last night’s guard of Unna, with a spear in one hand and a lantern on the other; a blast from 500 years ago.

As sustainability and recycling! Rethinking the problems we humans can shamelessly create, then the beautiful street art of Unna, sustainability and recreation, the Nowodworskis art house, the old brewery that becomes a part of an exhibition of light, light, is it possible the solution relies on individual endeavors? may individuals manage to be the change?

can we?

Can Man carry the planet with one hand?

More by Rabab Haidar