A written dialogue with Margarete Steffin (actress, writer, translator, social activist), inspired and constructed from her words, and based on an exchange of opinions and ideas about building communities, solidarity and the importance of communication.
2 elements 20 x 100 cm, Led programmed text (english, german) – 2021
Dear Margarete, I have a guilty conscience. Until three months ago I did not know you. I didn't know anything about your history, or existence at all. I should also admit that I was never really familiar with the work of B. I've learned about you almost suddenly, thanks to Dr. M. and then a cloud of outrageous thoughts and stories, relationships, politics, gender roles and power and displacement opened up. But It's hard to write about it. Though if one wants to write sensibly, one would need volumes that have already been written better. I have finally overcome my writing laziness. Now I want to tell in order, and yet probably in a jumbled way, everything that I admire and find so tremendously inspiring: your strength and will to be in solidarity with others (and you also say: Brecht's Solidarity Song to you, is one of his most beautiful) and to have been daringly active already as young girl for a better society. The assertiveness of your self-assured mother certainly shaped you as a child. And seen from here and now it is impudently great, at once incomprehensible, how you managed and built the being- with-one-another and togetherness in youth groups and agitprop choirs. You are really wonderfully beautiful: to learn all the languages, to teach yourselves those, and the subtile attention to words, may I say it, that you have also managed this through your self-education is really remarkable. (That's why I am sure you will read my mistakes and forgive them kindly). After all these years, I am really content that I came here. You also said that throughout your constantly-changing exile. Somehow I think that also for you, the work with translations and texts represented a place of escape; where one can protect oneself from fears and uncertainty. The space where one can find stability in a perpetually-changing, uncertain and dependent-on-someone life situation. Nowadays everything has become much easier here, than when you still lived in Lichtenberg. Especially for women, despite the horrible amount of things that are supposed to become different and better but haven't yet. You have been so progressive, but in the same way reluctant. But that was love, wasn't it? I can imagine what else you would have accomplished if more autonomy had been possible. In your work, your own live, your freedom. I see - and thank every day - what luck means to me, the freedom that my mother taught and made possible for me; in the thoughts, actions and the position I manage to take today. Isn't it deplorable how Brecht always limited you? You worked for him, dedicated your artistic and literary production to him. He did a lot for you, but also created boundaries around you. Not a balanced love relationship, however one with enormous recognition of each other's intellect. But not to name you as contributor in his texts, I find it blatantly disrespectful. Did your confidents ever mention anything about it? Your many friends who represented for you a family in the most diverse places; it's so important to find and have them, isn't it? We go through that process here too, slowly but favorably, as I like to say. Such a jump to a new country is not an easy thing. And we both know how significant it is to construct and find kinship; whichever comes first. Do you still find it beautiful in the world? And how is it there? Do you have it warm? Have you seen old friends, made new ones, met M.? But there is no one here from all of you, to whom one could ask something. Unfortunately, I can't say goodbye, because when will it be? With very warm greetings. Yours i.n.