Passages, Homage to Walter Benjamin

Dani Karavan


Photograph of metal sculpture in the shape of a V through which the ocean and rocky outcropping beyond is visible.
Passages is a memorial in Portbou, Spain, created by Karavan to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the death of cultural critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin. Benjamin committed suicide in Portbou while attempting to escape Nazi-occupied France. The title of memorial refers not only to Benjamin’s ill-fated passage over the Pyrenees to Portbou, but also to his unfinished last work, Passagen-Werk or Arcades Project. It is believed he had the manuscript with him, but it was not recovered and has never been found. The memorial includes a tunnel with a flight of stairs leading to a pane of glass overlooking the sea, a platform for meditation, and an ancient olive tree. Karavan chose the colors for the memorial’s structural elements so that they would be integrated into the surrounding landscape, the brown and gray rocks on the cliff on which Passages sits.


Photo by Jaume Blasi. Courtesy of the artist.

Published in: The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, vol. 10.

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