►ENZO MASTRANGELO on Jan 29, 2022 from Sapri/Italy: Yesterday I heard that there are no Frank-Kirk Ehm-Marks in this country. Today I dedicated a musical memory to him:
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►DIETMAR KIRVES on Jan 29, 2022 from Berlin: Time is moving faster and faster, as many people feel in the present. All the faster in the daily gears everything goes its course again, as if death would not be a reason to pause once. Every artistic work does not live from the earnings alone, but from the person who stands behind this work and stands up for this work. In this sense, part of Frank's life's work will always remain part of our NO!art movement. In the ►Report of the history of NO!art, he too has his place, he too belongs!
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►MATT GRAU on Jan 30, 2022 from Berlin: Dear Dietmar, the year 2022 has taken Frank from us. On January 26, he completed his turbulent life. 2 days before his 61st birthday in Urban Hospital. The funeral will probably be at the end of March. Alter St. Matthew's Cemetery, where the Brothers Grimm, Rio Reiser and other heroes are placed.... it should probably be.
Matt Grau and Frank Ehm-Marks
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►LST on Feb 01, 2022 from Sweden: Dedication to my friend Frank Kirk Ehm Marks. "So my dear, now it's closing time. Zander or pike, of course caught by myself. Thank you sir, and a coffee black for my best! The war is over and all are dead. How much is this picture? Thanks, I'll save it for later. You're a spineless animal, you know that? I'd find my friends in the Red Rose. Well, off to the bathtub. If you're good, I'll play with you. No touching. Five pictures against one of you and thirty minutes of cuddling. Scribble-scratch, done. Can I touch your penis now? Ok, one last time my dearest Frank and then it's off to bed....Good night."
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FUNERAL SPEECH by ►MATT GRAU on Mar 22, 2022
Dear Susanne, dear families, dear mourners
I look back on a quarter of a century of steadily growing friendship. Above all, it grew out of a shared admiration and appreciation of artistic actions.
I remember how Frank and you, Susanne, came to our place in Leuschnerdamm for coffee and cake around 1997. We also lived there before the reunification of Berlin. When we left the front door, we were immediately confronted with the Wall. Frank grew up in the divided Staaken, quasi also with the wall. Tearing down this and other walls, or better yet, running through them or even floating through them - yes, almost caught up in the tendency to make the impossible possible - this connected Frank and me very much. Punk and anarchy included.
My interest in and fascination with the Art Brut arts of ►Jean Dubuffet and the state-bound art coined and promoted by ►Leo Navratil (with artists like ►August Walla and Johann Hause), therefore also developed into endart, Klaus Theuerkauf and also Frank-Kirk Ehm-Marks.
Kunstschaffenden, die ihren so eigenen Weg konsequent weiter gehen und die damit die Kunst als solche fortdauernd weiter voran treiben, gilt meine höchste Wertschätzung, Achtung und Anerkennung. - Kunst, die nur von diesen Künstlern geschaffen wird. Geschaffen werden kann. In der Fülle mit Wiedererkennungseffekt, da diese Kunst nur eben von diesen Künstlern geschaffen werden kann und zu zu ordnen ist.
So einer war Frank!
His Writings are also unique. Influenced by his own experiences, sensations and perceptions, mostly written in a lyrical style, as if they were the framework of a brute rock song; as this
Poems without headline
call out to me:
I have no home
Give them the finger
I am on addiction
From the black book Kreuzberg
Yes, yes, yes, yes,
no, no, no, no, no, no
The addiction. The longing. For intoxication. Cross consumption. Polytoxic highlights! The urge for intoxication, intoxicants, alcohol as such, also connected us. Without a doubt. The always aspired overdose - Even wider and even further. As the Extrabreiten already recognized and sang: My home is the more!
Recurring interludes and relapses determined Frank's times and stretched around the 2010s from short intervals into a steady up and down with the growing pressure on a pressure. And yet, once again, Frank managed to leave alcohol and drug use behind.
In early 2011, I walked through the so-called Wrangelkiez and said to myself: ' What a theater this has become. Kreuzberg Punch and Judy show! The Punch and Judy puppets from my childhood days were still there and I immediately expanded the catchment area to North Neukölln and registered a Kreuzberg Punch and Judy event in Tim Pernizsch his Freischneider action studio to 48 hours Neukölln. Thus I had set the pressure higher for myself, in order to convert also the idea into the act. I did not want to be completely alone. And nevertheless: Without to have called to it, first bright ones cast themselves!
I resolutely fought them all off. Because there could be only one - Frank! With me. What a team! Frank also immediately took on the role of Punch! There were still enough dolls, which were extended with stuffed animals, police cars, posters, Atze Nowwhereman, the Zen Monkey and many accessories. The most important detail - toilet brushes, in order to knock Tannenzäpfle, yes, basically everything at useless Neuberlinerischen unrestrainedly and unexpectedly. Zack! Gentrifuck! So to speak.
Our trip to Lerz was also sensational. We performed in the Räuberhöhle at the Theaterkunst Festival at.tension, which took place on the Fusion grounds. It was particularly striking that one after the other, parents were directing their children away from the Punch and Judy stage! The energetic use of toilet brushes to beat up the policeman puppet seemed to scare them off.
In addition to several other performance venues, the Kulturkascheme Zum Goldenen Hahn on Heinrichplatz emerged as our Kreuzberg Punch and Judy show residence. From grandiose textually and choreographically elaborated performances to totally chaotic performances, which by Frank's total relapse and also mine in the over-excited alcohol consumption, ran completely out of control. As it is in Kreuzberg...
After Frank moved into ZIK in the summer of 2018 after rehab and his condition stabilized more and more, we accomplished another sensation shortly before Christmas - The Kreuzberg Punch and Judy Show at the Golden Rooster! - Not your museum! Brave, delighted and touched Frank brought the show over the stage in the truest sense of the word. Celebrated and cheered by the audience. To say it with Franks words: Super! Great!
Shortly before Christmas 2019 a video afternoon with performances of and with the Kreuzberg Punch and Judy show in the gallery Heba, in which also some of the last drawings of Frank were exhibited. Then once again and now the last joint performance of the Kreuzberger Kasperletheater in the Golden Cock. Almost prophetic the title: Alles Quatsch Eure Intensivstation.
After a solidarity and protest art exhibition in the rooms of the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (NGBK) appeared on the cover of the 'Volle Breitseite' calendar 2021 a collage of 'Drea with some of the last figurative drawings of Frank. Now a final legacy, as well as a reminder and memory of the Bookstore Kisch & Co, which was ultimately ousted and evicted. In the shop window of the newly occupied premises, the booksellers who were friends with Frank exhibited photos, pictures and books by him in his honor after his death.
With much and in the last years constantly sacrificially there: Susanne. Partner. Caregiver. Heroine! With a kind heart. Unconditionally, even in the most stressful moments patiently at Frank's side. Simply there for Frank! Admirable. Exemplary anyway. When you, Susanne, were visiting your mother for some time and were prevented from helping her or otherwise, Andrea and I took care of Frank. There we noticed all the more how much love and goodwill you gave Frank. The days I was alone with Frank, especially those with increased confused actions - constantly saying ouch shit; out of bed, to the bathroom and always back and forth - took a lot out of me. But the trust Frank gave me satisfied everything.
In spite of everything: Susanne, how did you manage it all? Thank you very much, dear Susanne. I am very grateful to have gone through all these times and life paths with Frank and you. Wonderful! And I conclude with the words of ►Jean Dubuffet:
No art without drunkenness. But then: divine drunkenness! Let reason disappear! Intoxication! The highest stage of intoxication! Plunged into burning madness! Much further than ever alcohol leads! Art is the most passionate orgy of man.
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January 28, 1961 — January 26, 2022
Obituary by Erik Steffen on Apr. 5, 2022
"You want to scream / shout it out / the rage that eats at you / name the demons that scare you / just let go /" writes Frank-Kirk Ehm- Marks in one of his poems. "Write, write, paint, paint" was his survival motto. Heroin is not a fun drug, a recreational junkie he was probably not either, but addicted to the end. Even if it was now methadone. Few have revealed their own self-deception as openly as the Kreuzberg artist, who wrested a universe of texts and images from the crash and hell until nothing worked anymore, because he refused food and liquid. Because he was no longer in the mood for a life that was reduced to "Ouch. Shit. Shit!" that is, going to the toilet. In a care facility in the neighborhood. The pens and paper now pointless. The generation "Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo" has lost one of its last survivors.
Somehow, shit was already sticking to Frank's shoe when he was born, even though his mother named him after the actor ►Kirk Douglas, whom she adored. A beautiful film is not his life, instead of glam factor rather arsenic bloom. His father is a crook and a drunk, always on the run, his mother follows him blindly. From Staaken in West Berlin, they have fled to Bad Kreuznach, where Frank is born. Frank, three months old, is left behind with the grandparents, who function out of responsibility and shame. The parents go to the GDR, Merseburg, shortly before the Wall is built. Again, the father has been in the crosshairs of justice.
What they do there, no matter. Frank's stepdad says he's antisocial. He did not meet his large family until after the fall of the Wall, and some of them had experience of prison. Frank grows up in the tranquil garden city of Spandau. His stepdad, an old communist and SEW functionary, is quite overwhelmed with the boy's upbringing. He counters everything the little boy does wrong with Prussian severity. A heart operation makes everything even more difficult. After the long hospital stays, the child is hospitalized and developmentally delayed. Frank doesn't get along at school. At the age of 16, he is finished, no graduation, no education. Without mastering the cultural techniques of reading and writing properly, he dives into the drug and hustler scene at Bahnhof Zoo. He is homeless, addicted, broken. Hopeless. But endowed with tenacity and a black humor that keeps him alive, somehow in this seemingly bottomless case. When ►Christiane F.'s drug report was prepared for the cinema in the early eighties, he was left with only a small role as an extra. But he survived almost all of them. And plays himself.
Frank staggers through the old West Berlin until he meets Susanne in the fall of 1979. Not everything is better now, but many things are different, temporarily. For more than 40 years they remain connected, between heaven and hell. The law student had actually chosen another prince charming in the notorious Kreuzberg stoner bar Jodelkeller, but he had gone missing. There now stands Frank, with a rakish grin and empty pockets, looking for a bum spot and maybe more. Conveniently, she has a small apartment just around the corner on Oranienstrasse, a big heart and pronounced taker qualities anyway. She can't know that the new boyfriend would also become a lifelong, energy-sapping client. Social problems such as classism, addiction and exclusion are her field of interest; Susanne is decidedly left-wing. And she will remain so as a lawyer for marginalized people. Both live in the so-called madhouse, where there are frequent fires, relationship problems are settled with the axe or the police, and drugs of all kinds are available. A conversion apartment takes the pressure off.
As nice as the little home is, Frank is always drawn out. Outside, houses are squatted, punks and trebekids like him are now on the move in self-determined contexts until the hated police evict them. At Adalbertstraße 6 he is the first squatter with political activists, writes texts for flyers, continues to take drugs and gets to know many similarly crazy people. Susanne brings his reading skills forward, they read together "Todestrieb" by the French violent criminal ►Mesrine, public enemy number 1 in France. For criminals Frank shows a lifelong, for many incomprehensible sympathy, even if he himself remains attached only to petty and procurement crime. What role he played in the militant struggles of the squatter movement remains hazy or part of a personal legend-making.
But he discovers the world of books and art, naturally from the perspective of an outsider. Finds his fixed points at the edges of the educational canon: ►Charles Manson, ►Louis-Ferdinand Céline, ►Francois Villon, ►Eduard Limonow and of course ►Charles Bukowski. gives his life a new direction, cold turkey. Now he struggles to find words and pictorial motifs, sober as never, has a purpose: to stop killing time, enough time is lost. He paints and draws in the style of art brut, his texts are not inferior to the pictures. Disturbing, crass, poetic, even if the broth of despair is very palpable: "sentences like strangers" is the name of one of his text collections self-published. "Zwischenfall" one lyric: "Poems without a heading / Call out to me: / Stand still! / I have no home / No God / Give those there the finger / Am on an addiction." Social Beat is the name of this emancipatory literary movement that seeks to show life beyond comfort zones. Susanne is at his side, happy about the first steps, sees the potential and his blossoming, even if the aesthetic motive donors owe to his self-destructive past. Death wish is not nice, certainly not in a love relationship. But she can't always be circling around Frank as a helicopter, she works a lot. Together they discover the art of the Schlumpers, music by Station 17 and Klaus Beyer, who very idiosyncratically translated the songs of the Beatles into German. Border crossers all. Together they lead a life that sustains them. Until Frank gets on it again, crashes again. Years go by where she doesn't know in what condition she'll find him when she comes home from work. This time withdrawal with methadone, he pulls himself together for more than a decade.
With the books "Happiness on the Hollywood Swing" published by Maro and "Monotonous Life in Unadorned Space" published by Karin Kramer, he becomes known to a wider audience. He now lives on coffee and cigarettes. His career as an artist also takes off, his mentor Klaus Theuerkauf of endart provides him with contacts and exhibitions, and the Kreuzberg literary organizer text flex provides readings and publishing opportunities. The noughties are a good time for Susanne and him. He reads with underground icons ►Harry Hass, Johannes Jansen, ►Hadayatullah Hübsch and Florian Günther. Has his addiction pressure under control. In the Mongo Bar, a short-lived basement club in Kreuzberg, he is the only sober person behind the bar and in the room in early 2000. With the ►Pogues, they both sit backstage on a London trip, meet the charismatic professional criminal ►Mad Frankie Fraser, have contact with Frank's idols ►Bruno S., actor, and ►Blalla W. Hallmann. Frank can communicate with many people. Whether in the gutter or in the gallery. His exhibitions are often sold out.
After that it goes downhill. With Karacho. It starts with selling hash to bar people, free drinks in return, cigarettes that he stubs out on his legs to punish himself. Back on it, from booze to heroin a small step! In 2010, his mentor Klaus sees Frank's exhibition at the Golden Cock World Heritage Site emptied, his picture frames right along with it. Frank has sold everything at bargain prices in order to stock up on heroin at Kottbusser Tor. He writes less and less; picture production is easier to sell for the quick shot. Even though he often loses his canvas bag with his work. Kreuzberg Punch and Judy, that remains his world! Matt Grau, his friend, has initiated it. The two of them become a cult, with old puppets and new content, choreographed or desolate depending on the state of intoxication, they play galleries, pubs and festivals. Gentrifuck is the program, with toilet brushes they beat up on Tannenzäpfle beer, the policeman and the rest of the despised world change in Kreuzberg and elsewhere. Horrified middle-class parents pull their children away, the rest laugh and applaud. Susanne kicks him out after he starts a relationship with the waitress of his favorite bar. But they become close again.
On a weekend visit in 2017 a brain hemorrhage, she now becomes his caregiver. He loses the ability to speak and read, his short-term memory, mobility. Struggles to get back. She does not give up, is happy about every little improvement. But he remains case, epileptic seizures, failures of his body system. On speech therapy and other therapies Frank can only vomit in the end. Susanne prevents a funeral for the poor. Many find their way there, shocked, not surprised.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Erik Steffen, born in 1963, has lived in Berlin-Kreuzberg since 1986. After studying German, journalism and sociology, he works as an editor, publisher, publicist and literary organizer under the label "text flex". For years co-organizer of the "Long Book Night" on Oranienstrasse. Last publications "Stationen sonstiger Augenbliche. Kreuzberg photographs by Ludwig Menkhoff" (Verlag M, Berlin 2011) and "Vom Goldenen Hahn zum Heiligen Berg Athos. Text- und Bildwanderungen von Bernd Kramer" (Karin Kramer Verlag, Berlin 2012). https://www.lovelybooks.de/autor/Erik-Steffen/