From the editors
CULTURE IN A "FOREIGN" SPACE: AN INTRODUCTION
TO GENIUS LOCI KALININGRAD AND KOENIGSBERG
KALININGRAD IN THE YEAR 2020 - A NOT QUITE FICTITIOUS CONVERSATION
DESTINATION - KALININGRAD
FROM KALININGRAD DICTIONARY
MAP OF THE CITY
FORMA URBIS. SYMBOLIC PARALLELS
IN OR OUT
THE RAILWAY STATION AND ENTRANCE TO THE CITY OF KALININGRAD
BINARY STATES OF "K" CITY
Eugeny Umansky, Karpenko-Karpenko
IN THE CENTER
Andrei Monastyrsky, Sabina Haensgen
EMPTY CENTER K.
FOLLOWING SILENT WORDS
FA+ (Ingrid Falk & Gustavo Aguerre)
THE MYTHICAL FOUNDATION OF KALININGRAD
PRETERITION: KNEIPHOF ISLAND
THE BRIDGES AND "THE PREGEL'S ODOR"
John Craig Freeman, Greg Ulmer
IMAGING KALININGRAD: THE SEVEN BRIGES OF KOENIGSBERG
FORGOTTEN KANT AND THE KANT-BRAND IN KOENIGSBERG
KANT'S BRIDES: A READYMADE PHOTOGRAPHIC CHRONOTOPE
THE CATHEDRAL AND KANT FOR EVERYONE, OR IS GOD FEARSOME WITHOUT MORAL
THE CASTLE OF SOVIETS
THE ROYAL CASTLE
A WHITE SEAGULL ABOVE THE CITY: THE SYMBOLS OF THE OLD NEW CITY
WRITING OF DREAMS
LIGHT UP DOM SOVETOV
THE HOUSE OF SOVIETS
THE MOST PROFOUND SECRET OF ONE KOENIGSBERG LAWYER: HOFFMANN
A LEGEND ABOUT FIVE LITTLE ULRICHEN AND FERRYMAN ANDRE
KOENIGSBERG-KALININGRAD. THE TASTE OF MARZIPAN
THE COUNTRY OF PENSIONERS - OR THE GERMANS
CONCRETE ELEMENTS OF KALININGRAD
THE UNDREAMED OF CITY
TOWN PLANNING MATHEMATICS
MOSKOVSKII PROSPECT & THE SHADOWS AROUND ALTSTADT
OUR TOWER Ivan Chechot
THE TOWER-REDAN "KRONPRINZ"
THE KRONPRINZ TOWER. Projects for the National Centre for Contemporary Arts by Students of the Institute for Theory and Design in Architecture (Braunschweig, Germany)
THE AMBER ROOM
BASTIONS IN DIAMONDS AND EMERALDS
THE HOUSE OF MACHINERY: THE RECONSTRACTION AND EXPLOITATION OF THE POPULATION
V.I.P. (Very Interesting Person)
PLACE OF EXECUTION
TRACES OF A VIRTUAL HISTORY IN A VERY REAL CITY
CHRIST THE SAVIOR CATHEDRAL
LIFE AND EGGS (A sketch about trams)
A STROLL THROUGH THE CENTER
IN THE FLOW: FOUNTAIN SEASON
WILD WEST OF RUSSIA
ANIMALS IN KALININGRAD AND A MOSAIC
KOENIGSBERG'S SPIRITUAL HERITAGE IN TONS, ITEMS AND SACKS. From the history of lost and found cultural heritage
WE ALL ARE GOING TO BE THERE
MONUMENT TO 1200 GUARDSMEN IN KALININGRAD
MATTER AND SPIRIT
FRAGMENT OF A SYMPHONY FOR SLOW READING: IVANOV AND HIS SURROUNDINGS
ATTIC OF RECOGNITION
MAN AND WOMAN
THE SMALL SCULPTURE "GIRL"
ON THE STREET
Igor Isaev, Dmitrii Demidenko
THE FIRE HYDRANT
Kalle Brolin, Kristina Muntzing
THE WATERFALL HERACLES' BOLT
V.I.P. (Very Interesting Person)
NATASHA POTERYASHINA. Inteview
TO BE IN THE MOOD FOR PACKING
Dmitrii Bulatov, Pavel Savel'ev
ACEPHALUS: OPTICAL MODELS
LIGHT THE CRYSTALS OF KALININGRAD!
THE BRIDGE THAT THE "RUSSIANS COULDN'T PULL DOWN"
THE ROAD TO BERLIN: FROM EPIC TO BANAL. Interview with Valerii Bugrov
HOAR-STONES AND BOUNDARY SYMBOLS
MUSCOVITES ARE HANGING
BEFORE THE CITY
THE CATHEDRAL AND KANT FOR EVERYONE, OR IS GOD FEARSOME WITHOUT MORAL?
Ivan Chechot / St. Petersburg, Russia
The Koenigsberg Cathedral on Kneiphof that has survived to our present day is an outstanding historical monument and a major landmark of modern times. We have witnessed the Cathedral transformed from ruins (August 1944 to mid-1990s) into a modern museum, concert and religious complex called "The Cathedral."
During the British phosphorus bomb air raids on 29-30 September 1944 the Cathedral was badly damaged but not completely destroyed, and some fragments of its interior decor survived. During the Soviet period the Cathedral turned into a damp ruin with scarcely discernable traces of epitaphs. Everything was pilfered, burned down and broken. At the beginning of the 1990s the ruins provided a complete aesthetic impression. It was obvious that both the forces of nature and the spontaneous, impersonal forces of society had worked upon the Cathedral. It was especially beautiful inside. Some of the vaults were still in place, and graceful filigree brickwork and profiles survived in them. Intricate patterns of tracery stood out against the background of the sky. A half-ruined but unusually shaped spiral staircase from the 14th century was located in the narthex. Everything was noble, made from red brick - and slowly falling apart. Peace and quiet surrounded the Cathedral, the grass and dandelions were in blossom, there were very few tourists, and boys' voices could be heard amid the ruins. Only the laughter and talk of guests accompanying weddings at Immanuel Kant's grave reminded one of the town. At that time the Cathedral's silhouette was quite typical. The horizontal line of the black nave without a roof was clearly marked; above it the sky was pierced by an angular-shaped fragment of the choir wall. The main facade, with its cut off rectangular roof and empty window frames through which the sky was visible, provided the vivid and austere impression of a grate. There was something particularly typical in the Cathedral's asymmetry: some kind of persistent, bare, realistic simplicity.
Today the Cathedral has been covered with a roof, crowned with a spire on its tower and painted. It has not simply cheered up; it has been unexpectedly transformed from a tragic monument of the past war, from a mediaeval ruin, into a modern businessman employed in the cultural sphere. Its age may be felt less and less, more and more it relates to the present and future, while its past can only be traced in museum displays.
Some conservation work was carried out in the Cathedral in 1972-74. However they really started "working on it" in 1992, when the business executive I.A.Odintsov established a firm called "The Cathedral." After consulting experts from Fulda, Germany, and Lithuania, yet relying mainly on local resources and ideas, he began the immense work. The most valuable and convincing result of this work was, undoubtedly, the rebuilding of the roof, which protects the Cathedral from further destruction. Already in the 17th century it was exactly as it is now, very large and massive, slightly hunched in the middle with eaves hanging far over the walls. The turret "Dachreiter" (with a strange green light at night) exactly reproduces one that was built there in 1564. This roof actually embodies the entire character of old Koenigsberg: closeness to the earth, repressed threat, roughness. We could and should relate further details about the roof and old town, but it would lead us too far away from our subject matter. At this point, let's just gaze at it, and let it gradually make its impression upon us, as it may.
Anything that has been and is being done at the Cathedral today is conditioned by the impatient desire to start making use of the building as soon as possible and to transform it into a symbol. First, already in 1994-1995 the bells were cast and installed, and a joint Orthodox-Catholic-Lutheran service was held. This way a religious moment was made primary: the revival of the Cathedral as a church. In 1998 a distinct Kantian accent was added to this. Hurriedly, just in order to report to the West and themselves, a museum and memorial to Kant was established that included exhibits about the Cathedral and the town. As soon as the roof was finished, concerts began to be held in the Cathedral. I happened to attend one of them. The program included a Bruckner symphony and a Schumann cello concerto. The ancient pillars, still not plastered, rose high into the darkness of metal scaffolding, there were bright stage lights, the beautiful glitter of musical instruments blended with the smell of construction work, iron lamps cast a dim yellowish light on the quiet rows of audience, and people were in a romantic mood. Both the performance and the audience were fine. I still recollect this experience as a genuine one. Even the picturesque metal disk of the moon hanging above the Cathedral did not seem to be a mere decoration.
Unfortunately the desire to do everything "just as it should be" gives the Cathedral, both inside and outside, many extraneous details of dubious quality. The walls have just been whitewashed - barely covered ruins - but expensive stained-glass panels have already been ordered whose style and quality leave much to be desired. Everywhere all sorts of useless decorations made of metal, wood, and so forth sprout and send out runners. These "artistic" additions have certainly given work to artists, who surely managed to get themselves expensive refrigerators and cars with the money earned. It is humane, but you can't but pity the Cathedral. However, the reason for all this is not simply poor taste but also the lack of money for costly genuine research and restoration work. I am not sure if the Cathedral will ever be reconstructed and restored according to the requirements of science and style. What is happening to the Cathedral now should be properly criticized and bemoaned. But the process is inevitable, and it mirrors the level of official culture, the understanding of the post-war period in Kaliningrad. The Cathedral today is a monument to the 1990s, a monument to the epoch of Yeltsinism, and has to be viewed as such, though not without aesthetic interest.
Here is the Kant Museum. As a vivid phenomenon - with colorful carpets, drapes, chandeliers, nice furniture, a generally Soviet domestic coziness, picturesque copies of reproductions, plaster busts, a sort of hall of fame, and a surrogate "burial vault" in the middle of which the death mask of the philosopher is placed in apotheosis (this deserves special analysis, a dissertation perhaps). A conscientious visitor will wonder about Kant dying here in the passionate embrace of his new admirers and will obtain food for thought while contemplating the odd ties between the two heterogeneous cultures. In the chapels one can see amusing and remarkable specimens of religious art. Among them are a "Byzantine" mosaic, The Indestructible Wall, with an image of the orant Mother of God placed beneath a Gothic arch; a monumental Orthodox crucifix made of wood in the Expressionist style of Barlach; in the Gothic windows there are stained-glass panels in the style of Baltic countries of the Soviet period, as well as ancient and new icons. At first this entire ensemble, beginning with rickety doors pretending to be authentic and the narthex, where the white as chalk and "preserved" to death spiral staircase has been embellished with tiled steps of polished granite (just like a cafe or a bank), made me feel hysterical. Tears came to my eyes - it's better to see the damp stones of ruins than this cozy cultural sham: the Kant Museum without Kant, religion without fire, the history of the town without any love for authentic traces of the town's history. But gradually I submitted to the reality of life and got used to the new Cathedral, finding in it the pitiful yet touching expression of the poverty of all revivals.
The construction of the Cathedral began in 1333. The Bishop hoped to construct a building that could also serve as a fortification in case of conflict with other towns and the Order. But the Great Master forbid him to erect Domburg. Today the only evidence of this is found in the boulders, turret and the battle passage of the western wall. The Cathedral turned out to be very long and rather dark. The choir was used for services of the clergy and burials, and the tripartite nave was used for services attended by the laity. Originally there was a wooden ceiling instead of the vaults; it was only in 1440 when rib vaults of equal height were constructed; thus the Cathedral is a typical hall church of the Hanseatic style.
The Cathedral may be considered neither a beautiful nor an impressive building: it doesn't possess a sense of wholeness. Nevertheless, it has some splendid fragments. The western facade is wonderful; the middle section's dense rhythm of narrow vertical windows and niches deserves special admiration. The buttresses of the northern wall are particularly beautiful.
In 1544 the ancient Gothic towers burned down (we don't know what exactly they looked like). During the 16th century repercussions of the Renaissance reached East Prussia, and an octagonal tower with a spire crowned by the figure of a mermaid was built. The clock appeared in the 17th century. The tower gave a smart, secular and palatial touch to the old-fashioned appearance of the church. Today it is perceived as a fairy tale tower room. They decided not to reconstruct the other tower and only built a gable with a small bow-shaped pediment. It made the left-hand side of the facade resemble a high storehouse or block of flats.
In 1523 the vaults of the Cathedral heard the first Evangelical service. In 1568 the last Master of the Order and the first Prussian Duke Albrecht and his wife were buried there. Only the silhouette of his tomb - made from dark Belgian marble after the design of the famous Dutch artist-mannerist Cornelis Floris - remains in the choir wall. The French used the Cathedral to hold prisoners of war. In the 18th and 19th centuries the Cathedral became a university church; it held all the solemn ceremonies, and an outside burial crypt for professors was built. In the 17th century the Cathedral was covered with plaster and whitewashed. This conformed to the spirit of time, with its strict Lutheran regulations. So Kant saw the white Cathedral! It was only in 1901-1907 that they removed the plaster and restored the Cathedral to bring out its essentially Gothic style. It was at that time that the niches were painted an ochre color and pictures appeared in the Gothic tracery. It is quite possible that the Cathedral looked just like that during the 14th to 16th centuries. In 1883 some frescos with subjects and ornaments were discovered in the choir, and they were used to guide the restoration work.
Nothing remains of the previous decor, except a few half-erased tombstones and epitaphs (outside, inside and in the choir). Recently some valuable pieces of an octagonal Swedish font from the 14th, decorative bricks and fragments of sculptures have been discovered.
The most beautiful element of the Cathedral is Immanuel Kant's Portico. It was designed by the Koenigsberg architect Friedrich Lars (1880-1964). This is a remarkable monument of culture and art from the 1920s. No other philosopher in the world has a tomb like this. Why Kant was thus honored may be explained by several factors: local patriotism, the pride of educated people of Koenigsbergers, Kant's role in philosophic debates of the first decades of the 20th century, and the significance of his political philosophy for liberal ideology and the Weimar Republic's intelligentsia in general.
In the 19th century Kant's remains lay under the vaults of the Neo-Gothic chapel Stoa Kantiana. It was decorated with a copy of Raphael's fresco The School of Athens. The foundation of the Stoa is still visible today to the right of the present-day Portico. In the 20th century a structure in the form of airy Greek temple on slender elongated pillars was built above Kant's tomb. This type of architecture is suggestive of three tendencies: its verticality and abstraction testify to modernity; its framework structure connotes concrete, rational thought; its classicism, Doric style and reference to the history of art (Egyptian pyramid as a tombstone, Egyptian-style cornice) testify to moderation, conservatism, and faithfulness to tradition. However, its graceful slenderness denies both Doric and Classical styles, the barely noticeable spiritualism and exaltation contrast with the heaviness of the solid wall and inscription, and the dense, black, quirky German details of the grating betray the latent Gothicism of Expressionism.
Kant's Portico is an example of the synthesis of heterogeneous tendencies. Today Kant is considered and honored as a founder of modern human rights ideology, an advocate of eternal peace, the founder of modern aesthetics, and a person and thinker who denied metaphysics, the sacred and even great personalities (who interested him far less than the ordinary moral person). Hence, Kant should probably have been given a far more modest monument, devoid of metaphysical associations. The sculpture by Rauch (a copy of which stands in front of the university building) essentially conforms to present official taste, if only the sculpture could only be freed from the Prussian bureaucratic costume. Kant as a witty interlocutor, Kant as a fair lawyer and politician is missing in the monument by Lars. Standing in front of it one contemplates about time and space, time and eternity (Egypt, Greece), one feels the space, sees knowledge, the world, which the philosopher himself constantly contemplated.
Simultaneously the construction of 1924 appears quite foreign against the background of the Cathedral walls. It is a well-known fact that in his lifetime there was very little harmony in the relations between Kant and the Cathedral, which at that time was a university Lutheran church. Kant's attitude to religion is an extremely complicated issue, while the attitude of the Lutheran church towards Kant is just as difficult to explain. Wasn't Kant, with his "religion within the limits of the mind", a logical extension of what had been started by Luther, as many Orthodox and Catholic believers are inclined to think? Was he a theist, deist or atheist? Whatever he was, at his funeral his close friend Johann Georg Scheffner was terrified as the deceased thought that there was nothing to expect after death. Many believers simply stayed away from this dubious funeral, though during the procession the bells of all the churches in Koenigsberg tolled. Ludwig Ernst Borowski, Kant's student and companion, his friend and future biographer, never appeared at the funeral because he held a prestigious position in the Lutheran Church of Prussia and was apprehensive about the stability of his career. Many people considered Kant to be an atheist, and there were some serious grounds for that opinion.
Today Kant's tomb faces the House of Soviets across the river, confronts the numerous empty eye sockets of its windows, the skeleton of the building, the cube. Ten years ago my friends and I, students of art history, became fascinated by a game - a city game - "Kant for Everyone, or A thing in Itself."
I have always been interested in Kant, even before I became interested in Kaliningrad. To understand something particularly difficult - probably not a single reader of Kant was born without this youthful desire. We studied and criticized Kant's philosophy in the course of Marxist studies. As a mature person, I discovered Kant for myself as an author of aphorisms, a sage. Later I learned about Kant's tomb in Kaliningrad. I have always overreacted to Kant's popularity in Kaliningrad. Do they really have an idea of what he, in fact, wrote, of what he thought? Of course, professors know, but who can really assess the general populace's understanding? What remains is reading.
In the mid-1990s I carried out several "creative excursions" into the practice of modern art, which I have constantly contemplated as a historian and theorist. To create modern art is much more fun than to study it. All questions and doubts disappear, you just become an artist if there is "artistic will" (i.e., your own wish to become an artist). This way my activities came about and their documentation appeared in St. Petersburg and Gdansk.
A friend of mine, G. Yershov and I invented a game, and our friends A. Klyukanov and F. Fedchin joined it.
The starting point was Kant's height and color. Brown (frock coat), black (bow tie), white (cuffs) and, it seems, 156 cm tall.
Then we procured some rectangular planks 156 cm long, painted them brown and horizontally attach to each one a small white board; under it we tie up a bow of a black silk crepe ribbon. We made an inscription on the small board: any quotation. So Kant himself is right here - you can come up to him, he is talking and…..mournful. We made many such quotation-crosses while sitting under the stairs of the Elevated Bridge, where there are two nude figures lying on the grass like Adam and Eve. The weather was fine, September, the beautiful park and trees - we got used to the island and enjoyed it as it was.
But the island is not only a park but also a cemetery of houses, a cemetery of the entire town. To the right of the central alley the ground gradually forms a slope: underneath there are fragments of the houses, a real common grave. I never sympathized with those British pilots of 1944, even if the punishment that they brought was the punishment of destiny itself. Together, both our and their armies tore down Kant's house and his university to make him realize that "the world is material" (this inscription was written over his grave after the war).
So we decided to turn the island into a cemetery with an enlightening content. In fact any cemetery serves this purpose as there one learns names and titles, familiarizes oneself with symbols and memorizes dates. But a cemetery remains a cemetery, no matter how magnificent its monuments. One always feels somewhat ill at ease there. There are also cemeteries of ideas, though unlike people, the latter have a chance for resurrection. Right now, while you are walking your dog. "Kant for everyone." One can take a walk in the park and read short quotations from Kant: that's what he said about Tchaikovsky (on music) or about Gagarin (on space), about work, trees, bridges and water. Concerning his own tomb, what might he have said while facing the Cathedral? What, indeed? Could it possibly be that passing by the Cathedral on his way to the University, he thought sternly: "God is fearsome, without morality"?
I selected this quotation for the central alley in the park, where there are some flowerbeds. At that time religious atmosphere, both official and fashionable, was gaining momentum: the reconstruction of the Church of Christ the Savior had started in Moscow, and Yeltsin and others were kissing the Patriarch on television. There was no chance of thinking about morals, people were becoming pragmatists and relativists. That's why we placed the plank with these words in front of the Cathedral. Other ideas from Kant were also unexpected.
When one becomes engrossed in play everything seems inadequate and one goes on to new adventures. So we visited the pulp-producing plant. The plant itself has magnificent industrial architecture of the 19th and 20th centuries. We bought a huge roll of paper and brought it to the House of Soviets. At that time one could easily just walk into the building, climb to the very top and take a look at the town and Kant Island below. We had a great idea! We wanted to cover all of the windows with paper (I can't remember exactly how many there were, just for fun, let's say 667). Each window would have a letter or symbol so that the whole Rubik's cube would present an entire quotation, again from Kant.
Letters or symbols? And how about Braille markings for the blind? We made sketches and drew plans. The quotation was prepared long ago. We borrowed it from Critique of Pure Reason, the one about the Tower of Babel and human plans. But we couldn't start work without getting a permit from the town authorities. So we started making appointments with town officials, submitting the required papers. The answer everywhere was the same and quite unexpected: how can you prove that this is not an advertisement? Today, when advertising has permeated everything and has become a subject of creative reflection, I do realize that the question is not completely devoid of deep philosophical sense, but at that time it was just annoying. Time was passing, and we didn't manage to get the permit so we had to leave without finishing our game…
Our plan was as follows. We would place two optical instruments (military range-finders), one at the tomb and the other one in an open-air supermarket on Moskovskii Prospect. People looking though the range-finders could read the signs and decode them with a special chart. We went to Navy Headquarters, where Yershov's uncle is in the service, and procured the instruments.
It was conceived as an allegorical play representing interaction with the hermetic Thing in itself, which Kant watches from his temple. The Thing is never given an immediate environment. The distance, code, mode of expression and much more detach us from it. And the quotation itself, no matter how closely one reads into it, remains misinterpreted or not quite fully clear, just like the town of Kaliningrad-Koenigsberg. Here it is, this quotation for the blind, including the author-schemers of the game:
We made an estimate of the building materials and then determined for what sort of edifice, with what height and strength, they would suffice. Although we had in mind a tower that would reach the heavens, the supply of materials sufficed only for dwelling that was just roomy enough for our business and high enough to survey it. This bold enterprise had to fail from lack of materials, not to mention the confusion of languages that unavoidably divided the workers over the plan and dispersed them throughout the world, leaving each to build on his own according to his own design. Now we are not so much concerned with the materials as in the design of the building. Having been warned not to become blindly and thoughtlessly absorbed by any idea that surpasses our abilities, yet still not able to resist the idea of building a strong dwelling, we will make an estimate for a building that fits the materials that are available and that is simultaneously suited to our needs.
The inadequate number of letter-windows required us to shorten the quotation, so please don't compare the text to the original. One of the black ribbons remains, and I still use it as a bookmark in a volume by Kant.
As to his idea - things worked out as he said. Our tower never talked, and I never became an artist, but we obtained "an experience." The confusion of languages came later, and today everyone is building "according to their own design." But we still haven't learned to make plans, as we don't always exactly know what our "needs" are. As to the "ideas" that surpass our abilities, they are still with us today, and justification for them can be found in Kant: "Let us look at our life as a child's play, where nothing is serious like honesty… A human being is a clown by nature and will always play someone else's part."
For us Kantians, the only consoling thing is that not everything in a human being stems from nature.
Translation by I.Vassilieva