Yemen

22nd May: Cool Yemenites

Sofa landscape Yemen-style. Thorsten Brinkmann is erecting a monument to qat and fridges. Photo: Klaus Heymach
Sofa landscape Yemen-style. Thorsten Brinkmann is erecting a monument to qat and fridges. Photo: Klaus Heymach
For days a strange tower has been growing skywards behind the thick museum walls. A four-star freezer shelf is piled upon a vegetable compartment, fridge upon fridge. Even the plinth is made of junk, chiller units, insulation and all the unnecessary innards of discarded appliances. On it there are colourful, floral-patterned mats and cuboids made from foam – so it’s the perfect spot to settle down with a bottle of cold water, a pack of cigarettes and a bag of qat. At least it is as soon as the courtyard of the National Museum is in shadow in the late afternoon. The Open-Air Divan is the work of Thorsten Brinkmann. The tall blond man with a distinct passion for collecting came to Sanaa to create a modern monument for the country and its people – probably the first art installation in Yemen. As he was collecting the old fridges from scrap-heaps and spares warehouses on the city’s arterial roads, Brinkmann, who was born in Stuttgart, found out that the Yemenites are masters of recycling. “I had to spend quite a lot on some of the appliances. They don’t get thrown away”, says Brinkmann. “They just turn three or four fridges into one.” The artist, who was born in 1971, hasn’t yet sampled the bitter stimulant leaves of the qat plant that everyone here stuffs into their cheeks after lunch. “Maybe on the fridge, when the installation’s finished.” Brinkmann is delighted that the men helping him to bolt it together had already unwrapped their qat there. “Yemenites are just cool.”

    Travel Journal Jemen

    Klaus Heymach
    From 20th until 24th of May, journalist Klaus Heymach spent a few days with the bricks in Yemen, and wrote a travel journal on the artists, the design of the bricks and the country.

    Klaus Heymach works as a journalist in Berlin. In 2005 he went to Sanaa as a freelance correspondent, rented a house in the old town and learnt Arabic. Now he has had his book published – Post Box Sanaa. Ein Jahr im Jemen (Post Box Sanaa. A year in Yemen).

    20th May 2009: Sanaa
    21st May 2009: Sanaa
    22nd May 2009: Sanaa
    23rd May 2009: Sanaa
    24th May 2009: Sanaa