MEIN JERUSALEM | 2011
A Memorial ceremony commemorating the professional and personal highpoints of Sabine Sauber, a fictional German photographer, on her journey towards a sense of belonging, following her wish to experience the "here and now". A farewell tour of a woman who asked to leave her past behind and move forward to a present, actual existence; to take risks, to do the unexpected, to get directly involved in and with what surrounds her.
A SELECTIVE PERSPECTIVE
Author/director Eyal Weiser creates a meticulously detailed fictional biography of the photographer Sabine Sauber. Sauber started her filming career at the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and later, during the 90's, cruised and documented the Berlin techno scene. Nonetheless, she remained extremely alienated and finally decided to follow her love to Jerusalem, where once again she was faced with a wall.
“Mein Jerusalem - A Performance by Sabine Sauber” is a spartan one-woman show, performed on a multifaceted construction; At first, one gets the impression of meeting the artist herself or at least some very close version of her, as the similarity between the gentle, boyish brunette on stage and the one in the photographic self-portraits is unmistakable.
It is not even clearly stated in the programme that this photographer doesn't really exist and that it is in fact Israeli actress Michal Weinberg but at second glance this opens the audience’s eyes and leads them on a reflective journey through time and space, bringing to the surface surprising points of correlation between Israeli and German perspectives.
Theater Heute Magazine | Silvia Stammen
BEYOND THE WALLS
"Mein Jerusalem – a performance by Sabine Sauber" is one of the most brilliant and original works in our theater.
It's very hard to write about "Mein Jerusalem" without giving it away, because the performance is based on a clever illusion, which if exposed, could ruin the viewer's pleasure. Anyone who doesn't want to read a spoiler, should stop right now, and simply go see the show. You are in for a provocative, interesting experience, one that is confusing and thought-provoking, which will fill your head with questions on identity and belonging, and primarily about the role of art in the dubious post-modern reality in which we live.
At the center of the play (running at Tmuna Theater) is the fictitious character of Sabine Sauber, an East German photographer/artist. The show is structured as a kind of lecture with demonstrations of her work and world, presented in English by a lecturer who takes us on a guided tour of the various milestones in Sabine's life since she documented the falling of the Berlin Wall. Her subtle and beautiful photographs capture moments in her life as well as her complex relations with her surroundings, primarily her constant attempt to break the wall of loneliness encircling her. There is also an Israeli episode in her biography, connecting to photos of other walls that are closer to our region. The backdrop is also constructed as a sort of wall, which gradually opens and becomes a mobile monument to the fictitious character which will eventually become realistic.
The people behind this extraordinary show are playwright/director Eyal Weiser, photographer/conceptual artist Rami Maymon, stage designer Yinon Peres, dramaturgist Itzik Giuli and actress Michal Weinberg, whose work is sensitive and excellent in her gradual and restrained creation of her involvement. The combination of these talents gives birth to one of the cleverest and most original works I have seen in our theater recently. It's almost devoid of dramatic tension as we're used to seeing it, but still fascinating, because in many sophisticated ways, it continuously asks the basic question: can we ever really know the other?
Yediot Achronot | Shay Bar Yaakov
THEATER REVIEW: MEIN JERUSALEM
Mein Jerusalem is subtitled ‘a performance by Sabine Sauber’ who is, as the program informs us, “a photographer\ conceptual artist born and raised in Leipzig, Germany.”
Except that she isn’t. Sabine Sauber is a construct, a concept in a performance art piece created by director Eyal Weiser and immaculately realized by actress/artist Michal Weinberg.
It’s very clever. In the theater lobby, there is an exhibition of Sabine’s photos, actually shot by Rami Maymon. The set by Yinon Peres that looks like a wooden fence – a reminder of The Wall between West and East Berlin that was so dramatically pulled down in 1989 – is converted into a series of tabletops that hold the shoe-boxes bearing the bits and piece of Sabine’s life.
Sabine’s video – shot “by chance” – of the toppling of the Berlin Wall marks the start of her career as a photographer, and the shoe-boxes provide the historical and psychological background to the various phases of that career.
Jerusalem comes into the picture when Sabine meets Elad, an Israeli. For the first time in her alienated, torn, narcissistic life, Sabine feels loved, almost secure. She comes with Elad to Jerusalem, and returns there after they have split up – he wants a family, she’s afraid – where she commits suicide. Or does she? The viewer vacillates. Is this or is this not a real person? After all, the program and the exhibits on stage chronicle her life. And that is precisely the point, made with enormous sophistication; with enough care, enough preparation, enough daring any lie can become truth.
Jerusalem Post | Helen Kaye
MEIN JERUSALEM: SABINE SAUBER DISTURBS OUR PEACE
Michal Weinberg plays a German artist created by Eyal Weiser at Tmuna Theater. This play is much more interesting than it is pleasurable or moving, and the only way to think about it is as a creative experiment.
Before writing about Mein Jerusalem, the work of German artist Sabina Sauber, I looked up a Wikipedia article on something totally unrelated to Sauber or her work: it was the article on writer and artist Roee Rosen.
"In his all-encompassing project, "Justine Frank", Wikipedia says, "he invented a provocative Belgian artist who was allied with surrealist circles. In addition to the image of Frank (who is externally a combination of his own image and the portrait of his wife), he also created the character of Johanna Fuhrer-Hasfari (a reference to Hitler), as well as Ann Castorp, the art researcher who pulled Frank out of the cobwebbed archives to re-examine an artist unappreciated in her time, and himself, "Roee Rosen", as a contemporary artist influenced by Frank's work."
The end of the paragraph made me laugh out loud. Rosen, or one of his fans, had treated Wikipedia as art and presented the real as the imaginary. On the other hand, it is somewhat true. Every artist is also comprised of his work, and when his creations are imaginary characters pretending to be real, he actually gives birth to multiple versions of himself.
Rosen is not the first male Israeli artist to invent a fictitious female European artist. Sabina Sauber, who comes to life on the stage of Temuna Theater played by Michal Weinberg, is the invention of playwright and director Eyal Weiser. For a little over an hour, Weinberg walks inside a modular structure of metal and wood designed by Yinon Peres, and regales with feeling and an impressive German accent the life story and work of Sauber, native of Leipzig 1970. On screen is a catalog of Sauber's art, including some not-too-shabby exhibits of the non-existent artist's work, created by photographer Rami Maymon.
The monologue is in third person, so perhaps Weinberg is not Sauber at all (rather the art researcher Ann Castorp). On the other hand, her face is those in the self-portraits, and occasionally the first person does come up, so it must be her, but simultaneously it isn't, because she does not exist. Such a metaphysical game relates directly to the world of the imaginary artist: a world of contemporary conceptual art, created in the shadow of primarily female artists who have worked in photography and installation art in recent decades, from Sophie Calle to Nan Goldin.
Only one thing is lacking: humor. The writers avoid making the audience laugh, perhaps in order to prevent the play from becoming a parody on its theme. This is interesting, because viewers almost expect Israeli writers to ridicule the foreigner, the German. But this doesn't happen. However, this is a shame, because one cannot imagine contemporary art without humor. Even when it's dark, there's usually some humor. Sauber (or Zauber –meaning "magic" in German) takes herself seriously to a point of inhumanity, for her entire career. This is why she is inhuman, and the inhuman will always be boring at a certain point.
Weiser and his artistic staff did something interesting. It's more interesting than pleasurable, more interesting than moving; above all - it's interesting. The only way to think about it is as a creative experiment. Has such an experiment been performed before? Rosen's Justine Frank was an experiment performed by an authentic conceptual artist, and was therefore very effective. The imaginary deceased poet Zeela Katz, created by poet Eran Hadas, was also a refreshing work of fiction. Like Sauber, she was also three dimensional and stood on stage: an actress posing as Katz would come to poetry readings at the end of the previous decade, and read her works.
What does Sauber contribute to our investigation of ourselves and the world through the figures of imaginary artists? As an East German living in West Germany, her feeling of detachment is not entirely convincing, and her encounter with Israel at the end of the play is similarly unpersuasive. She compares a wall in Jerusalem to the Berlin Wall of her childhood, but clearly she refers to ancient walls and not the wall of separation. Sauber is not realistic enough to be entirely convincing, but also not unrealistic enough to be a caricature. In this manner, she discomfits the viewer, for better or worse.
More than anything, her character evokes a healthy host of questions: what is the value of contemporary art if it can so easily be reproduced? To what extent do we feel comfortable with the modern Berlin, which is such a strong locus of attraction to Israelis, and simultaneously repress feelings of discomfort? What draws us to Europe and what repels us? To what extent can we pose as Europeans and how? What is the difference between Weiser's creation and what any playwright does when inventing a character? To what extent did the writers create Sauber, and to what extent did she create them?
Beyond these, I had another question. In a previous column, I (very exasperatedly) wrote a critique of the monodrama "Hitler" at the Heder Theater. A few days later, once again I found myself facing a single German character on an Israeli stage; again she was alone. Why are our Germans always so lonely? Amir Oryan's Hitler searches for death by the hands of Israelis. Sauber finds love in the arms of an Israeli. Why do all the imaginary German characters look for salvation here of all places, and what kind of salvation can we find in this fantasy?
Ha'aretz Newspaper | Yuval Ban Ami