March 07/ WM issue #1: Farwell Emmett Williams

March 07/ WM issue #1: Farwell Emmett Williams
Chausseestrasse in East Berlin, photo by V. Trasov
Emmett Williams died suddenly and unexpectedly early morning Valentine's Day in the

Berlin apartment where he lived and worked with his wife, artist Ann Noel.

Emmett started feeling respiratory complications and then circulatory problems at 4 am. He was not able to survive these problems and died around 6 am. He would have been 82 on April 4. I saw him for the last time at Ann's opening at

Emerson Gallery Berlin on January 26. I spoke to Ann on the telephone, expressing my condolences.

She received countless phone calls, offers of help and now countless letters. Emmett’s daughter Penelope had come to stay with her. Geoffrey Hendricks called me on February 20 from

New York .

He said that exactly a year ago on February 14, 2006, as Emmett was in the hospital with pneumonia, he had decided time was up and proceeded to pull the life-saving tubes and apparatus that he was attached to. He had another year of grace. A conspicuous date for the author of Sweethearts. Ann and Emmett's son Garry arrived from

Halifax February 21. The service was held February 23 at 11.00 at the Friedhof der Dorotheenstaedtischen und Franzoesischen Gemeinde on Chausseestrasse in

East Berlin where Bertolt Brecht is buried.

Das letzte Geleit

It was a bitter cold morning Friday February 23 for Emmett's farewell. The little church in the cemetery was overfilled with mourners.I would say most of the people who attended were the artists I collaborated with in the early to mid eighties in Berlin; Weekend Gallery, artists around Karin Pott and Haus am Luetzowplatz, Ann Noel's and Margaret Raspe's Frauen circle, plus the Polish contingent from  Poznan, where Emmett received his "Doctor Honoris Causa" in 2005.There was one child in a carriage present, the child of the gallery owner Russell Radzinsky. Fluxus artist Ben Patterson and close Fluxus friend and artist Dorothy Iannone were in attendance. Tom Wasmuth flew from Albuquerque New Mexico . Barnie Kirchhoff, Emmett’s former boss from The Stars and Stripes, traveled from  

Paris , although just a week before Valentine's Day he had come to visit Emmett. Several gallery owners and collectors were there. Apart from Ingrid Beirer from DAAD, I didn’t see any representatives from institutions. There were too many people to mention everyone. Most were Emmett’s loyal circle of artists and friends from his Kiez, his local milieu. Emmett's other daughter Laura, Garry and Ann were all sovereign to the situation and held their heads high. There were many flowers, candles,eulogies, flute music, word performances and balancing acts  by die maulwerker ensemble, very much in Emmett's spirit. It was a Williams' performance! I managed to take one photo when we were outside the church again, that of Garry with his arm around his mother as we paid our final farewell to Emmett before his hearse slowly departed from our view. On March 9 Ann and Garry buried his ashes beneath a 110 year old beech tree in the Friedwald Hasbruch, a forest cemetery near the town of Hude outside of Bremen .

There was a small ceremony with just a few friends. Ann says the beech tree and surrounding oaks tower above like cathedrals.

I knew Emmett since 1981 when Michael Morris and I arrived in

Berlin as guests of the Berliner Kuenstlerprogram DAAD.  Michael and I made a video of Emmett as he cracked a raw egg on his head in his performance Alphabet Symphony 1981. Emmett wrote the forward for my catalogue Berliner Bilder 1982.

For me it is the end of a Berlin era.

A celebration of Emmett’s life will be held in New York on April 1, 2007 at Emily Harvey Gallery.


whitehot gallery images, click a thumbnail.

Vincent Trasov (L) (Pictured with Michael Morris)

 Vincent Trasov (L) (pictured with Michael Morris) is an artist, curator and writer in Berlin . The Morris/Trasov archive is located in the Belkin Gallery at UBC, Vancouver.

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