All texts, unless otherwise stated by Sarah Pogoda

Carrying forward the light of the Enlightenment: Max Horkheimer and Friedrich Pollock

Photo: Max Horkheimer with Lantern, the light of Enlightenment.

In his interview films, Alexander Kluge often uses the candle as a metaphor for Enlightenment. Note Horkheimer´s practical orientation in this picture: the lantern, carried in Horkheimer´s right arm (different to Jesus in Hunt´s painting, see below), ensures him the ability to navigate, particularly in the darkness. Someone able to manoeuvre themselves is someone who is happy, as evidenced in this picture: Horkheimer is smiling.

The picture was taken by Horkheimer´s lifelong friend Friedrich Pollock – another lighthouse of the Frankfurt School.

In contrast to the light given out by a lantern or a candle, the light of the camera is a fugitive one. This flashing light, however, as ephemeral as it was, succeeded in immortalising the autonomous intelligence glowing from Horkheimer’s eyes.


Link to other exhibits on display:

Certificate for the award of the badge of honour to Friedrich Pollock by the City of Frankfurt am Main in 1969.

Cities, too, can experience flashes of genius. So did the German city Frankfurt am Main when it awarded Friedrich Pollock the badge of honour for his achievements at the Institute for Social Research. Friedrich Pollock was not only friend to, and photographer of, Max Horkheimer – the leading lighthouse of the Institute alongside Theodor W. Adorno –, but also co-founder of the Institute and its substantial anchor in times of exile. In exile from National Socialist German (from 1934 in New York?), Friedrich Pollock ensured the Institute’s financial survival and – as a transatlantic lifeboat so to speak – the survival of thousands of persecuted intellectuals.


Picture: William Holman Hunt: The Light of the World (Manchester version, 1851-1856)

I Walk with My Lantern St. Martin's Day Song

I walk with my lantern,

And my lantern with me.

There above, the stars shine,

And we shine here below.

Lantern light

Don't die out,

Rabimmel, rabammel, rabum.

I walk with my lantern,

And my lantern with me.

There above, the stars shine,

And we shine here below.

My light is off,

I go home,

Rabimmel, rabammel, rabum

Pollock – Patriarchy – Death of the foreign woman

Picture 1: Carlota Pollock and her husband Friedrich in their home in Santa Monica, California (1950).

Please note the gender-specific allocation of space: Carlota Pollock is seated in a chair in the garden, reading a book, apparently for pleasure. While Friedrich Pollock, a sitting lighthouse is portrayed working at his desk (with panoptical view on his wife in the garden).


Picture 2: Carlota Pollock and female friend aside to Friedrich Pollock next to car in Montagnola (Switzerland). Photography taken by Annegret Tietzsch, employed by Friedrich Pollock to companion his wife Carlota (ca. 1961).

Lighthouses, dialectically enlightene dthey might be, tend to perform patriarchy.


Film: “Death of the foreign woman” (Der Tod der fremden Frau):

Alexander Kluge reconstructs this kind of objectification of women / utilization of women in his minutes-film “Death of the foreign woman” (“Der Tod der fremden Frau. Le Liebestod”). In this film Kluge reviews centuries of imperial patriarchy romanticised as “Liebestod” (Love death) in opera: Richard Wagner “Tristan and Isolde”, Giacomo Meyerbeer “L’Africaine”, Henry Purcell “Dido and Aeneas”, Christoph Willibald Gluck “Armide”. He links this review with generations of the “exotic female” as commodity and display object of the colonial patriarch coming home.


Please note: Due to episodes of violence and nudeness (inevitable when reviewing the history of the suppression and exploitation of women), the film shown in the exhibition was edited.

The dark side of Enlightenment


The moon rules the nights, the moon rules the tides.

(Mozart, The magic ship, 1799)


Lighthouses ensure orientation: Sailors who need to navigate in the risky waters close to the shore, as well as coasters who accidentally find themselves in unfamiliar places amidst their wider haven of home. It is the shore, be it home or eagerly awaited destination after a long journey on the sea, that promises the safety of the harbour, soon to be docked to?

However, this can be deceptive, as in severe weather or unforeseen tides, the shore turns into a pool of perils. This was the destiny of the Royal Charter which was hit by a storm at Anglesey on the night of 25-26 October 1859. This was also the destiny of the HMS Conway, hit by foreseeable tides, of which the crew was ignorant, blinded by the longing to finally return to its home, the Liverpool docks, from where it had been relocated to Bangor in 1941 when Liverpool suffered devastating air raids. The less industrialised area of Anglesey seemed a save location for the HMS Conway to endure the end of World War.

Appearances can fool.


In fact, the HMS Conway survived World War II, but fell victim to another dark side of Enlightenment:

When it was time for the HMS Conway to return home to Liverpool on 14th April 1953, abstract thinking divorced from reality ended her journey home after only two hours after departure from Plas Newydd in the Menai Straits. Thousands of people who came for a cheerful farewell to the HMS Conway had to witness how the ship close to the Menai Suspension Bridge was driven ashore and broke apart.

Not sufficiently acquainted with the local specifies of the Menai Straits to ensure a safe passage trough the Swellies, Captain Eric Hewitt lost the HMS Conway simply, because she was too late for the tide. But this is not an example of “bad timing”. Rather, if Captain Hewitt would have drawn on the expertise of local sailors on Anglesey, his ignorance of the real conditions on that day (lack of contact with reality – or distraction by homesickness?) would not have led to the misfortune. A misfortune, which was later – unteachable – represented in the following formula:


U = ­11.2 0.057W 2 cos D 3.67(R 3.6)cm s ­1


As a side note:


Similar lack of contact with reality contributed to the fame of a similar simply formula:


Pr [TA<1, TB<1] = Φ2-1 (FA (1)), Φ-1 (FB (1)), Υ)


However, World War II did not only increase the ambiguity of the shores and docks, but it also turned country lore upside down: The allegedly safer open sea turned into a battlefield, you were more likely to loose your life here than at the shores of rough coastlines.

Don´t forget: Lighthouses are rare in the open sea. But how to manoeuvre in the darkness, when the stars are hiding for not to be faced with the horrors of war. Darkness is an end.


You can not drown in the same river twice

written by Hannah Siwutters


How does one address the question of how, on the evening of 30 March, 1822 poet, preacher and abstainer Dafydd Tomos met his untimely demise?

Known by his bardic name Dafydd Ddu Eryri he was considered the father to a generation of poets in North-West Wales. His winning piece for the 1790 Eisteddfod was inspired by the anti-slavery sentiments being expressed by contemporary Enlightenment thinkers. He strove to maintain bardic standards and as a teacher he inspired and aided many an impoverished crofter or quarrymen to compose and perform.

On the night of 30 March, 1822 he walked home to the village of Llanrug from Bangor having visited some of Anglesey’s lettered clergy, and then having enjoyed the city’s pubs. When trying to cross the a small stream near Pentir, he fell into a few inches of water.

Amongst the many tributes composed by his fellow bards and the following words have been written -


Hon ydyw’r afon, ond nid hwn yw’r dŵr

A foddodd Ddafydd Ddu


(This is the river, but it was not the water

That sank Dafydd Ddu)


Walking on Water

Leading temperance pamphleteer John Rees - who's best know work was entitled “Intoxicating drink and complete abstinence, or, Reasons against the habit of drinking intoxicating drinks, in conjunction with the response to counter-arguments that may arise” - announced in 1867 he was to walk on water over the Menai Strait at Bangor “without losing his equilibrium.” Thousands gathered on the hillside at Garth to watch him appear in stiff oilskins containing a pneumatic apparatus - the applause was deafening.

The local newspaper reported that “When subsequently he sat down in the shallows and taking two small oars from a pocket, rowed himself in a sitting position across the Straits to the Anglesey shore - the cheers made the windows rattle half mile away. He made the return journey lounging nonchalantly on the waves and for an encore walked on the water for several yards before he touched bottom and waded, triumphantly ashore.


The Bangor Speech

By the time David Lloyd George had became prime minister of the largest empire on earth, the staunchly tea-total members of the Liberal Party of Wales had become wary of their former champion’s chameleon like turns away from obscurity and the cause of Wales and to a meteoric rise through the London establishment.

At Bangor in 1915 Lloyd George (nicknamed “the Goat” for being an accomplished adulterer) was keen to re-assert his popularity at home. In front of an audience of nonconformist abstainers he delivered his ‘Bangor Speech’ stating “Drink is doing more damage in the war than all the German submarines put together.”

A total prohibition of alcohol was narrowly avoided. However the Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic) came into being under the wartime provisions of the Defence of the Realm

Act. The Immature Spirits (Restriction) Act of 1915 and the Licensing Act of the same year savagely curtailed pub opening hours and raised taxation on alcohol. The legislation attempting to limit the threat to production posed by feckless drinking among the working classes remained largely in place for almost 100 years.    

Life jacket? Personal floating devices – Strokes of Genius for Futurity

A personal flotation device, be it in form of a life belt, a life vest, a flotation suit or a buoyancy aid, is designed to keep individuals afloat in water – in case of a disaster it can save your life. However, personal flotation devices are not inventions born (out) of necessity. On the contrary, its invention is a cousin to the spirit of discovery, distinct to all humans. Thus, the idea of personal flotation devices was initially born in the form of thoughts for an apparatus which would allow men to stay underwater for a long period of time, in order to explore the underwater world, until then terra incognita to humans. Evidence of this are given in late medieval times, but increasingly in the Renaissance. Vegetius left notes in “De Re Militari” (1476), so did Veranzio later in 1595. Leonardo Da Vinci left sketches of life belts (see image 1), most famously however are sorts of diving suits made of cork (see image 2). Renaissance humankind was not to be saved, but rather to equip to explore and master all worlds – above and under water.

This drive of curiosity, exploited militarily for world conquest, gave birth to ideas of suits which would allow women and men to float above water. But it was only in the following industrialising centuries that would turn conquering and conquered people into subjects of sea rescue. It was this future which caused the anticipation of individual floating devices centuries ago (see image 3). This is the futurity of the past.



Picture 1: Leonardo Da Vinci: “Sketch of a lifebelt” (Paris Manuscript B, f. 81 v), ca. 1488 - 1490

Picture 2: Jean-Baptiste de La Chapelle: “Scaphandre” (Tafel IV, in: Jean-Baptiste de La Chapelle, Herrn de la Chapelle gründliche und vollständige Anweisung wie man das von ihm neu erfundene Schwimmkleid oder den sogenannten Scaphander nach untrüglichen Grundsätzen verfertigen und gebrauchen sole), Warsaw, 1776

Picture 3: “Life jacket memorial Greece”, 2017