Inseparable Angels—The Imaginary House for Walter Benjamin, 2000

Inseparable Angels—The Imaginary House for Walter Benjamin, 2000, is a constellation that gathers cultural and everyday objects, a precedent artwork, and texts inspired by it, to create a new encounter where personal and factual experiences become inseparable. 

Esther Shalev-Gerz created and installed for the first time this ephemeral house for the philosopher, Walter Benjamin on the top of the Bauhaus University in the German city of Weimar. With its rich and complex historical and cultural legacy, Weimar had been the home and workplace of Schiller and Goethe, and throughout the years of the Weimar Republic hosted the National Assembly. A few kilometers away are the concentration camps of Buchenwald and Mittlebau-Dora.

The installation The Imaginary House for Walter Benjamin is inhabited by four artworks that unfold movements in time and material. Les Inséparables is a double clock merging two faces whose four hands are simultaneously counting time backwards and forwards. This duplication generates a perpetual movement: time goes toward the future and the past whilst becoming inseparable in the present. The double clock Les Inséparables, this time in a monumental format, is permanently installed in Sweden and now in Geneva too. 

This formation was echoed in a dual chair where two persons lean against each other’s back despite looking in opposite directions. A series of photographs and a video depict a journey by taxi from Weimar to Buchenwald, with comments by the driver populating the passing landscapes with realities of the past. From time to time, the image stutters, slows down and becomes double-exposed. In this expanded instant a spatiotemporal occupation occurs, in which one can listen to texts that testify to the endless interpretative potential of a work of art (among which are words by Franz Kafka, Heiner Müller, Gershom Scholem, Paul Klee and Walter Benjamin), all inspired by the relationship uniting Benjamin to Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus painting.

  • Exhibition organized by Françoise Ninghetto
  • In collaboration with the Fonds d’art contemporain de la Ville de Genève (FMAC)
FONDATION MAMCOÉtat de GenèveVille de GenèveJTIFondation LeenaardsFondation genevoise de bienfaisance Valeria Rossi di Montelera