A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel
looking as though he is about to move away
from something he is fixedly contemplating.
His eyes are staring, his mouth hangs open, his wings are spread.
This is how the angel of history must look.
His face is turned toward the past.
Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one catastrophe,
which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage
hurling it before his feet.
The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead,
and make whole what has been smashed.
But a storm is blowing from Paradise;
it has got caught in his wings with such violence
the angel can no longer close them.
This storm irresistibly propels him
into the future to which his back is turned,
while the pile of debris before him grows skyward.
This storm is what we call progress.
— Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (1940).
This painting was owned by Walter Benjamin, the famous philosopher, one of the leading thinkers of the last century. Walter Benjamin committed suicide in 39 in France not succeeding to leave the country before the Nazi invasion. After Benjamin’s death it got in the possession of Theodor Adorno another important intellectual of hebrew origin and since the 80ies it is part of the collection of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
I ran about it reading an essay by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (the curator of dokumenta 13) titled : “On the Destruction of Art-or Conflict and Art, or Trauma and the Art of Healing”
I think there is nothing to add and I will sure come back to talk about Dokumenta 13, an event that has shaken my conscience and gave me more than one esthetic emotion.