Ambassador Martin Zebracki

Martin Zebracki. Photo: Sjoerd van Leeuwen

In his research, Martin Zebracki is interested in the perception of public space: from public art to cruising zone. Since Daniel Libeskind’s Garden of Love and Fire is both, he is keen to learn more about this work.

“My background is human geography, so everything related to the interaction between humans and space, and I’m particularly interested in art. One of my most interesting studies was my research on the controversial ‘Butt Plug Gnome’ in Rotterdam. Everyone who encountered this work appears to have an opinion about it, which intrigues me enormously. In recent research, I focused on the Homomonument in Amsterdam: on how the material components of this work attain a visceral, deeper meaning. The monument especially unlocks emotions during LGBT remembrance days, when many people place flowers on the site. I find it captivating how sexual citizenship conjoins with the material dimensions of this monument. It also incorporates intimacy: peoples’ very own identity and the place’s historical identity, life history and cultural ‘veins’. I discovered the Homomonument as compelling memorial site for examining ambiguous processes of coming together, openness and reticence, inclusion and exclusion.

Art in the city usually adapts to an existing context. What I found interesting about the Land Art project is that the city explores ways for adapting itself to existent artwork. This will inevitably be the case when the Garden of Love and Fire becomes a future city park of Almere Pampus. The context will then change drastically. For me, this artwork exhibits an avant-garde spirit. It’s daring and if you read about the background of Libeskind and his interest in deconstructive architecture, then the work also exposes its true intimate nature. This very much intrigues me. How has this artwork ended up precisely here and what kind of questions occupied Libeskind’s mind while designing it?

The uses of the artwork also hold me spellbound. This site is a cruising zone. This partly ensues from a combination of a peculiar material infrastructure and the anonymous character of the place. There seems to be a sort of structural force, but at the same time things feel coincidental. This raises the question why Libeskind wanted to realize a work in such an ambiguous, anonymous place. The more extant literature is read about the work, the more questions flash through the mind. One text states that the lines of this work point to Almere, Salamanca and Berlin, where Libeskind had his studio. On his website, Libeskind rather emphasizes a connection between Saint John of the Cross in Salamanca, famous for his passionate poetry, and Paul Celan in Paris, a Jewish poet who wrote about his experience with the Holocaust. In so doing, Libeskind has aligned an anonymous place with his personal life history. You might say that he provides meaning to emptiness. And I think this poses a paradox. Libeskind must have felt something for this land, for this particular place. It would be interesting to find out more narratives on that.

History is somehow always written with a pencil. It’s inherent in research that you discover new things while searching. The Garden of Love and Fire truly calls for ‘re-search’. You can really talk it through for a long time. That’s why, to me, it embodies a successful ‘conversation piece’.”