Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More ideas for topic

Another idea that was brought up in yesterday's class was marketplaces.
If you like marketplaces, flea markets, etc., you might think about how you can build an investigation or theme around that idea. For example, how does a theme like "melancholy" relate to a marketplace.
Often flea markets are places where we might find the artifacts of cold war era East Berlin. If you ask a vendor what's the story behind an object, there's usually a history and that history might be personal, even intimate--a sort of mini oral history that's tied to an object.
Or, you find old postcards from one person in E. Berlin to another in the west and it requires you to complete the conversation or make up details you think they're talking about. Try putting together unrelated objects from a flea market--old postcard, random family photo, a piece of 50's era jewelry, etc. You make an interpretation of it, then take the objects to someone in Berlin who lived through this period and have them tell you a different story.
Another idea for the marketplace is examining the cross section of the community that's there both as customers and as vendors. Do a study of why certain vendors attract a certain specific clientele and another a completely different clientele even though they might sell similar items. Observe first, then ask questions.
There are other kinds of markets too in Berlin. Ten years ago when I first went there, I wanted to meet clothing designers, so I searched them out, found a building in former East Berlin where a whole group of designers had workshops and stores. I eventually started up a conversation with Jane Garber owner of a place called Kostumhaus. She designed innovative women's clothes made out of contemporary microfibers, even clothes made out of a paper like material. (Long story why I was looking for this, but my new novel is about fashion.)
One of my writing projects for you while in Berlin and Istanbul will be to buy a postcard everyday and while you're standing in front of the thing pictured in the postcard, write on the back what's not in the picture (sounds, smells, people...). If you do this daily, you'll have a kind of journal of "writing in the moment" and then the next step for you after you assemble these postcards is try to remember some specific image from the time inbetween the writing of each postcard.
I'll send you more ideas for topics later. Shawn

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