Time to Listen
Museum of Embraces and Encounters

Museum of Embraces and Encounters Illustration: Tobias Schrank © Goethe-Institut

A collection of stories about embraces: as an expression of close encounters, but also as a symbol of reconciliation, of overcoming opposites. The stories are told by artists from all parts of the world.

Portrait of Arnold Zable, Melbourne © Arnold Zable

Arnold Zable, Melbourne
A story of hugs and prisons by Arnold Zable

Author and human rights activist Arnold Zable tells the story of Farhad, an artist who fled from Kurdistan to Australia seven years ago. There, the freedom that he was searching for was also denied to him. But Farhad refuses to be intimidated. Then, one day...

Emanuele Soavi & Meritxell Aumedes Molinero © Emanuele Soavi & Meritxell Aumedes Molinero

Emanuele Soavi & Meritxell Aumedes Molinero, Cologne

A hand that embraces from behind. A foot that embraces from behind. A second body in the clothes. Images of embracing, growing together, merging, encircling - building intensity without words.

Portrait of Chao Liu, Berlin © Chao Liu

Chao Liu, Berlin
How come … Hugging is part of me?

The artist Chao Liu talks about his mother, who - growing up in Mao's China of the Cultural Revolution – was not accustomed to hugging someone. Yet, for Chao Liu this gesture is an essential part of himself. What happened when he and his mother hugged for the first time?

Portrait of Maria Zervos, Athens Photo (detail): © Maria Zervos / “THE TENT” / HD Video Still / Courtesy of the artist / 2021

Maria Zervos, Athens
The tent

The sight of a colourful tent village is accompanied by thoughts about an epidemic of a different kind: nostalgia, based on a sense of loss. A loss that goes beyond personal experience. An epidemic that is less and less curable.

Portret Inger-Mari Aikio, Buolbmatjávri © Inger-Mari Aikio

Inger-Mari Aikio, Buolbmatjávri
The Polar Night Embrace

In this poem by the Sami poet Inger-Mari Aikio, someone talks – in the "darkest of the dark" – to the polar night, in which lives go out like candles. The polar night in which eyes can embrace...

Portrait of Isabel Schayani, Cologne © Isabel Schayani

Isabel Schayani, Cologne
A type of embrace that I can't get out of my head

Only two days after the devastating fire the German-Iranian TV journalist Isabel Schayani visited, together with a camera crew, the Moria refugee camp, the largest refugee camp in Europe. There, they witnessed a family's desperate attempt to get help for their seriously injured mother and experienced a brief moment of closeness.

Portrait of Radmila Petrović, Belgrad © Radmila Petrović

Radmila Petrović, Belgrad
I am sending you all a big hug from Serbia!

“I always dreamed that you would approach me” / “come and hug me so that I am nine years old again” – Radmila Petrović reads two poems that talk about encounters and embraces.

Portrait of Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Genua © Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Genua
I have never seen myself so alone

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer talks about writing a Corona Chronicle. He never thought that one day the world would be reduced to three words: Faith, Love and Hope. On a walk through the deserted city he enters a church and contemplates a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Portraitbild von Mamoun Aljak, Khartum and Omdurman © Mamoun Aljak

Mamoun Aljak, Khartum and Omdurman

A man finds himself in a hospital bed, surrounded by his friends and family. He has attempted suicide, suffering from depression. His friend Mohammed stands by his side, helps him to get therapy, in which the narrator gets to know his environment, goes outside and meets new people. Slowly, the therapy begins to have positive effects. That's when the Corona epidemic starts. The depression spreads over the whole city. Is there no more hope?

Portrait of Erik Fosnes Hansen and Erika Fatland, Oslo © Erik Fosnes Hansen and Erika Fatland

Erik Fosnes Hansen and Erika Fatland, Oslo
Are you hungry?

All over Rome Mario was known for his simple dishes which had an airy and rich taste at the same time. Erika Fatland and Erik Fosnes Hansen, a married couple, discovered Mario's restaurant, dined there often and led many intimate conversations with Mario, learning about his difficult fate. One evening they witnessed an almost poetic encounter.

Portrait of Natacha Muziramakenga © Natacha Muziramakenga

Natacha Muziramakenga, Kigali
Moves that save

A meeting full of intimacy. Full of devotion. A crossing of boundaries. A dance in the light of "the fatality that characterises the time in which we live".

Portrait of Anita Nair © Anita Nair

Anita Nair, Bangalore
Encounter with the smuggler

Since her childhood, her father has told her about his travels by train - on one of the shortest railway lines in India. But the narrator never manages to take the train herself. Until she finally gets the assignment of a travel journal - and a trip full of surprises begins, which ends with the encounter with a criminal out of necessity. Should the narrator report him?

Portrait of Etgar Keret © Etgar Keret

Etgar Keret, Tel Aviv
A mexican phenomenen?

On his first reading tour in Mexico, Etgar Keret was approached in Spanish by a tall man with a moustache at a book signing. Keret thought the man wanted a selfie with him. But instead of taking a photo, the stranger gave Keret a hearty hug. This episode was repeated several times until Keret found out what his readers had really said to him.

Portrait of Abubakar Adam Ibrahim © Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Abuja
So far away from home

A Nigerian man on the New York subway, in an intense soliloquy. Full of words familiar to his observer. Laughing, shaking his head, he says, "That's the way the world works."
The other passengers look away, thinking he's one of the many crazies on the subway. So he turns to his observer.

Portrait of Teardrops © Teardrops

Teardrops, Nairobi
Where are you?

The Spoken Word Poet Teardrops tells the story of the acquaintance with a woman he fell in love with. He saved money to visit her in Mombasa, but she did not show up for days. At the decisive moment, she sent him a message.

Portrait of Pao-Chang Tsai © Pao-Chang Tsai

Pao-Chang Tsai, Taipei
Fresh mint for a future Mojito

When Pao-Chang Tsai visits friends in Thessaloniki in the summer of 2009, he is overwhelmed by their hospitality and joy of life. He himself had been brought up by his father to be restrained, to be absolutely humble. Never to owe anyone a favour.
However, the mother of his hostess surprised him with a very special gesture.