Angel of History

alt="Engel der Geschichte">

Over the coming months, we will be presenting texts, photos and videos on this topic on our Entangelments website. We have won Tom Sojer as a guest for this project and are looking forward to our collaboration.

In his IX historical-philosophical thesis, Walter Benjamin writes of Klee’s Angelus Novus (Israel Museum, Jerusalem), who, caught in a storm, drifts through time – his face turned towards the past, his back to the future. This storm must be so powerful that it drives an angel so helplessly before it, unable to linger, unable to intervene. The storm of progress, for this is what Benjamin is dealing with, piles up mountains of rubble, evidence of a single catastrophe.

Klee’s new angel grows scrolls instead of hair. For whom are these messages intended? What will still be decipherable when the storm rages through them, tearing them apart?

What could free the angel from the storm so that he can use his wings to fly again? The time of progress, Chronos, is depicted with wings – but it is also he who clips the wings of others. (e.g. in paintings by Pierre Mignard, Michel Lalos, Van Dyck, Giacinto Gimignani – in Johann Heinrich Schönfeld’s allegory, Eros even hands over his wings to Chronos).
How can one “seize the opportunity” and find the kairos, the condensed time, in Chronos, in the elapsing time?

And: Does this text by Benjamin tell a nightmare? And who is dreaming it? Do angels dream? Daydreams or nightdreams? And if so, what would the angel in the story dream about?