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Episode 1

5 Levels of Inspiration with Mirna Funk

In '5 Levels of Inspiration', we ask women whom we admire what their most recent inspiration was and pursue this thought further: Books, encounters or music – who is behind it and what has inspired this person in turn? In five steps, we immerse ourselves in the creative network of Mirna Funk.

1

Mirna Funk

Journalist and author Mirna Funk calls Tel Aviv and Berlin home. Among other publications, she writes for Zeit Magazin, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Interview magazine – for the latter she reported from Israel in summer 2014 on her life there in a state of emergency. Both privately and professionally, the native of East Berlin repeatedly deals with the notion of a German-Jewish identity – a multi-layered existence, which she explores in depth between the places, cultures and text formats. Her highly acclaimed début novel Winternähe (Winter's Proximity) (2015) was written – like many of her texts – in Mirna's magical favourite place: her bed.

The Hanasich Hakatan cafe where Mirna Funk and Anne Ponger enjoyed their long talks. © Sheli Chen

What inspired me most recently:
conversations with journalist Anne Ponger.

I met Anne Ponger by chance on a flight to Tel Aviv in 2014. Our lives have a lot in common: We both live in Israel and Germany, are married to an Israeli and work as journalists. We had a fantastic conversation right off the bat – about my first novel, life and about this, that and the other – and we get together regularly ever since. For example, at the Hanasich Hakatan Café (English: 'the little prince') in Tel Aviv, a combination of book store and coffee shop. My conversations there with Anne inspired me – the openness with which she meets the world is just impressive.

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Anne Ponger

As a correspondent for Süddeutsche Zeitung, Anne Ponger reported from Israel, the occupied territories and Cypress from 1983 to 2000. Today, she and her husband live in Jerusalem and Berlin. Her secret passion apart from journalism: cinema. Films instantly transport her to different places.

Dominique Caillat during rehearsal / the poster for her “Kidnapping” play. © Dominique Caillat

What inspired me most recently:
the stage play 'Kidnapping'.

Dominique Caillat's stage play Kidnapping about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict still inspires me today. I met Dominique in 2004 during her research for this play – that is to say, during the Second Intifada – and later on she named the correspondent in the play after me. Kidnapping is a prime example of grand art and Dominique's qualities: She asks the right questions, explores the depths. This is much deeper than journalism, which always is also broad and skims the surface. This attitude is incredibly inspiring and Kidnapping was a symbol of this attitude to me

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Dominique Caillat

Dominique Caillat is a writer, theatre director and photographer – the cosmopolitan woman was born in Washington D.C., studied in Geneva and New York and at present lives in Berlin. Currently, she is working on a novel about Darwinism. Away from her desk, she favours cooperative ventures and develops opera libretti and photo documentaries, among other things.

The Buchinger Wilhelmi fasting clinic on Lake Constance. © Niklas Görke

What inspired me most recently: fasting.

Nothing inspires me as much as fasting does. In 2013, I went to the Buchinger Wilhelmi Clinic to see Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo for the first time and regenerated myself completely. Fasting is indispensable for me, especially before major projects – I need it to be able to write. Because day in, day out, I often feel like I'm joined to my computer at the hip. I always have to first get used to tearing myself away from it and letting go of my work. After a fasting session, I always feel like new, have collected myself and am able to tackle new projects.

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Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo

Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo and her husband have been leading the Buchinger Wilhelmi Clinics for 30 years. Visitors often stay two to three weeks – the stay and the length of the stay in the specially designed premises are supposed to aid in their fasting process.. Françoise therefore attaches maximum importance to the inspiring effect of the surroundings. To her, art is a focus in the holistic concept of the Buchinger Wilhelmi Clinic. The guests are able to enjoy several hundred paintings during their stay. Artist Marie-Jo Lafontaine personally furnished 30 of the rooms with suitable works of art.

The “Dance of World“ video sculpture by Marie-Jo Lafontaine. © Martial Thomas

What inspired me most recently:
The 'Dance of World' video sculpture.

The Dance of World video sculpture by Marie-Jo Lafontaine has been very important to me for many years. I believe that every person has his or her own 'Musée Imaginaire' – a museum of imagination – which holds our collected impressions for safekeeping. In mine, tango, flamenco, Arabian dance and dervish come together – the tango being danced by two women, which is highly irritating in this male-dominated field. Depending on how I feel, these images move me in entirely different ways.

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Marie-Jo Lafontaine

The trained lawyer Marie-Jo Lafontaine has been working as an artist in Brussels with film, photography and painting for almost 40 years. Her latest project, a black-and-white film, is devoted to people of different origins and their particular favourite piece of music.

Scene from Orphée und Eurydice. © Bernd Uhlig

What inspired me most recently:
The staging of the 'Orphée et Eurydice' opera by Castellucci.

To me, inspiration means asking the right questions. That is exactly what the staging of the Orphée et Eurydice opera by Romeo Castellucci managed to achieve. A fantastic, contemporary production! A live picture from a hospital room is transmitted and shown on the backdrop of the stage during the opera. We see a young woman who has suffered a stroke and is no longer able to move or talk. Headphones are placed on her head and she can experience the opera live with the audience. And suddenly her facial expressions become animated. The entire auditorium was silent. I left the performance with tears in my eyes.