WITHOUT FAITH, THERE IS ONLY SUICIDE
DANIEL VON WEINBERGER
Interview by Loukia Richards
Self portrait with talles & tefilien, 2019. Photo: D.v.W
LR: How does faith influence life, art, and creative thought?
DvW: WHAT DOES A PERSON DO WITHOUT FAITH? FAITH IS PART OF A HUMAN BEING. FAITH GIVES MEANING TO LIFE. FAITH IS LIFE. WITHOUT FAITH, THERE'S ONLY SUICIDE (ABORTION, EUTHANESIA, ETC.)
CREATIVITY IS LIFE, LIFE IS CREATIVITY.
LR: What kind of reactions or problems did you encounter as an artist and academic when you decided to live your life according to the teachings and rules of Orthodox Judaism?
DvW: ALTHOUGH I WAS BORN FIVE YEARS AFTER THE WAR IN WHICH MY WHOLE HOLY FAMILY WAS SYSTEMATICALLY AND COLD-BLOODEDLY MURDERED IN THE POLISH AND GERMAN GAS CHAMBERS, MY WHOLE LIFE WAS STILL FULL OF "NORMAL" ANTISEMITISM. JEW-HATE EXISTS FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS.
THE TORAH SAYS: "ESAV HATES JACOB" AND ALSO THAT THERE IS "NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN." AS LONG AS I WAS A DECADENT, WILD HIPPIE PUNK THE "WORLD" COULD USE AND ENJOY ME.
IF A HUMAN DOESN'T DO WHAT HIS TASK IS HERE ON EARTH, TO BE A HUMAN, HE IS LESS THAN A FLY. BECAUSE WHEN THE FLY SITS ON A PIECE OF WARM STINKING COW MANURE, HE DOES WHAT A FLY HAS TO DO. WHAT G-D EXPECTS FROM HIM.
AT 33, I BECAME A PRACTICING ORTODOX RELIGIOUS JEW, AND THEN THE BURNING HATEFUL ANTISEMITISM REALLY STARTED.
I WORKED FOR THE GOVERNMENT ART SCHOOLS IN ANTWERP AND TEMSE (BELGIUM). THE MOMENT I CAME IN WITH MY SKULL CAP, THE DIRECTORS, WITHOUT ANY SHAME, TRIED EVERYTHING TO KICK ME OUT. IN SPITE OF THEIR ANTISEMITIC WARS, I PERSEVERED, AND FINALY, AFTER ALMOST 40 YEARS, I RETIRED FROM BEING A FASHION AND JEWEL TEACHER.
"La Reine (Co)Rona Jewel Ensemble"", 2020. Photo: D.v.W
LR: How can jewelry talk about historical atrocities and collective traumas such as the Holocaust, which is one of the major themes in your work?
DvW: AN ARTIST ALWAYS EXPRESSES WHAT HE IS FULL OF. IT SEEMS LOGICAL TO ME, BEING A SECOND-GENERATION WWII SURVIVOR (VICTIM?), THAT THIS IS PART OF WHAT COMES OUT OF MY SOUL.
TODAY, YOU SEE THAT THE SLOGAN FROM AFTER THE SECOND WORLD WAR, "NEVER AGAIN," SEEMS TO BE MEANINGLESS. PERHAPS EVEN MORE THAN EVER, IT IS IMPORTANT TO SHOW THOSE TRAUMAS AND PAIN IN MY WORK.
LR: Why is jewelry and ecology compatible—or are they not compatible?
DvW: OBVIOUSLY IN MY WORK, RECYCLING IS A VERY IMPORTANT FACTOR.ESPECIALLY WHEN WE UNDERSTAND THAT G-D IS THE ONLY ABSOLUTE REAL CREATOR: HE, WHO CONSTANTLY CREATES WITH HIS "WORD" SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING. (THE MOMENT G-D STOPS "SPEAKING" THE OBJECT DOESN'T EXIST, AND NEVER EXISTED BEFORE EITHER).
WE, HUMANS, CREATE SOMETHING FROM SOMETHING. WE BRING THINGS TOGETHER. IN OUR DAY AND AGE, WITH A PLANET FULL OF "STUFF (GARBAGE)" IT IS THE MOST INTELLIGENT CHOICE TO USE MATERIALS THAT ARE ALREADY THERE.
"To See or Not to See" - Eyeglasses series, 2019. Photo: D.v.W
LR: What are the conditions that turn jewelry from ornament into art?
DvW: I AM ALWAYS SURPRISED ABOUT THE FACT THAT IN JEWISH LAW "INTENTION" IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT FACTOR. I THINK THAT "THE INTENTION" IS THE CONDITION TO MAKE ÜBERHAUPT (AT ALL) "ART." THE REBBE RAYATZ EXPLAINS WHAT ART IS: "TO SHOW THE LIGHT OF THE MOON ON THE SEA, THE WIND IN THE FIELD OF WHEAT."
ART IS EXPRESSING THAT WHICH YOU CANNOT SEE OR GRASP. AND THEN IT IS NOT IMPORTANT HOW YOU BRING THIS INTO THE OUTSIDE WORLD – IN JEWELS, PAINTINGS, DANCE, ETC.