Part of the ‚Kanaldisko‘ intervention with Tom Albrecht
Landwehr Kanal, 48 Std. Neukölln, Berlin, June 2012

The starting point for this performance comprised conversations with Tom Albrecht about pollution in the waterways of Berlin. One of the most well-known water-related legends in Germany is the one connected with the Loreley, a steep rock on the River Rhine, about which the German poet Heinrich Heine composed the following poem:

Die Lorelei

  1. Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten,
    Daß ich so traurig bin,
    Ein Märchen aus uralten Zeiten,
    Das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn.
    Die Luft ist kühl und es dunkelt,
    Und ruhig fließt der Rhein;
    Der Gipfel des Berges funkelt,
    Im Abendsonnenschein.
  2. Die schönste Jungfrau sitzet
    Dort oben wunderbar,
    Ihr gold’nes Geschmeide blitzet,
    Sie kämmt ihr goldenes Haar,
    Sie kämmt es mit goldenem Kamme,
    Und singt ein Lied dabei;
    Das hat eine wundersame,
    Gewalt’ge Melodei.


3.     Den Schiffer im kleinen Schiffe,
Ergreift es mit wildem Weh;
Er schaut nicht die Felsenriffe,
Er schaut nur hinauf in die Höh‘.
Ich glaube, die Wellen verschlingen
Am Ende Schiffer und Kahn,
Und das hat mit ihrem Singen,
Die Loreley getan.

Heinrich Heine, 1822 (1799–1856)


I cannot determine the meaning
Of sorrow that fills my breast:
A fable of old, through it streaming,
Allows my mind no rest.

The air is cool in the gloaming
And gently flows the Rhine.
The crest of the mountain is gleaming
In fading rays of sunshine.

The loveliest maiden is sitting
Up there, so wondrously fair;
Her golden jewelry is glist’ning;
She combs her golden hair.

She combs with a gilded comb, preening,
And sings a song, passing time.
It has a most wondrous, appealing
And pow’rful melodic rhyme.

The boatman aboard his small skiff, –
Enraptured with a wild ache,
Has no eye for the jagged cliff, –
His thoughts on the heights fear forsake.

I think that the waves will devour
Both boat and man, by and by,
And that, with her dulcet-voiced power
Was done by the Loreley.

Translation: Frank Petersohn

 Sitting on a raft tethered to the bank of the canal, the artist sang this song ‚til she could sing no more, while repeatedly combing her hair, while Tom Albrecht fished ’shit‘ out of the water behind her.