Poem for a Vanished Glacier
by Vanessa Clara Engelmann
Reflections on Glacier Archipelago – Photographic Views on a Melting Landscape.
They say you are here because she was here because it was here. Your body made from limestone filled with the remnants of war. You were the starting point, weird and huge in a city which is flooded with monuments, buildings, people, animals. Old and fake, rebuilt - demolished. I know about some other bulls standing in stone, one recently stranded in a park, visitor from the past. But you, witness of water and ice, you remained.
Sometimes I feel like everything is slipping away, like the world is made of ice and when I touch it, it might simply melt away –
Foucault said on the radio:
Under the fingers of the other, sliding over the skin, all the invisible parts of the body begin to exist. At the lips of the other the own lips become tangible. Before half-closed eyes, one's own face gains clarity.
The touch of an other. Connection. Separation. Becoming in togetherness. Bodies relating to each other. In relation. The affects that repel and attract us, the deviant movement that becomes a line of flight and escapes into the bushes. Jumping into ponds. Pulling deep.
I was pulled. Not necessarily deep, but all over. Sitting next to you, watching and not knowing how to grasp the feeling in my chest. Not knowing how to grasp it. It, which is the glacier, the unimaginable ice which covered this site and shaped it before the city did, by growing and melting and moving and rushing and bringing the rubble. The pond to your feet, the deep dark water, which still bears stories about those who lived here, those who vanished. A line of six ponds, glacial remains, kettle lakes. Crumbles of dead ice left on a landscape becoming the landscape.
The time, rearranging itself, inscripted in bodies and written by them.
The glacial landscape in Tempelhof was presumably formed during the so-called Weichsel Ice Age, which - again presumably - began 115,000 years ago. Presumably because: the theory that Berlin was once a glacier did not gain international recognition until 1875, after the Swedish geologist Otto Torell had found traces of the ice. That was 147 years ago. Torell had gone to Rüdersdorf near Berlin to investigate his speculation. He had seen photographs of scratches on the limestone mountains and wanted to investigate them. He could proof that the scratches were traces of glacial movement. This cold migrating mass of ice and boulders and gravel.
So, it’s the traces it left through which it stepped into existence, through which it re-existed, scratches on stone and on soil. And rubble and boulder and pebbles. And finally, the riddle of glacial erratic was solved: neither brought by the ocean nor spit out in a volcanic eruption, simply brought along by the ice which left and left them. And made you.
The place has a heaviness. Like stones laying in my stomach. Indigestible. The layers of time pull me down. I walk to feel lighter. I walk from Franckepark to the Alter Park to Lehnepark to Bosepark to Alboinplatz to the Eythstraße Cemetery to Lindenhofsiedlung. Bruno Taut's Ledigenheim was not rebuilt after the war. It has vanished. I go back to Alboinplatz and look into your bulging eyes.
I haven't vanished; I'm still standing here. In 2005 I was renovated. Taken down stone by stone and put back together. No trace of resistance. The bronze penguin from the other side was sent to war. He melted in 1943, like all the bronzes in Berlin that seemed dispensable to the Nazis. He is not documented anywhere. Not on any of the district's casualty lists. Because he was supposed to melt. Only the photos from the archive in Nuremberg, on your smartphone. And two newspaper articles. I'm still standing here. Scuffs on my skin. Stones in my stomach. Rüdersdorfer limestone.
I started to wonder: The glacier, too cold to touch, either melting or making me a part of it. The difference between us disappearing. How to get close to you if I either destroy you with my touch or get destroyed by yours? But what if a trace is not a trace but it. So, I started to wander, around and around and around and around and around and around and around. Seven. Picking up the plants I needed inspired by the work of Dagie Bundert, who started to develop her films in the nineties and shifted to experiments with natural materials.
What if I don’t only take pictures, externalizing my view, but processing them with the landscape itself or those who make it a landscape: the mushrooms, the petals, the trees, their bark, pine cones and needles, the water. All of them helping me to take Photography serious in its character as an instable medium, which is offering the illusion of freezing the time while it is actually dripping away slowly.
And now you seem to be melting, too. I see the water on your forehead.
The dead ice, the kettle lake in Frankepark is the smallest of the seven (the smallest because the one in Bosepark is not small, but has disappeared).
There used to be deer in the basin. My roommate told me about it. She went for a walk. On Sunday. Because she works full time during the week. That was before I moved here. Before time and boulders brought me to this place.
Now only a few pieces of fence are left on the edge, between the path and the pond.
Something has melted. Landscapes were formed. The water seeped into the ground and now I carry the mud under my feet.
The linearity of time collapses. What was there is there and will be and not.
Vanessa Clara Engelmann
About the Author
Vanessa Clara Engelmann studied media and cultural theory in Weimar, Taipei and Berlin.
Her current interests include relational perspectives in philosophy and the arts, photography and practices of artistic research.