With their work "West-east conversation", the two Iranian and Russian animation and video artists Soheil Seraji and Nadira Madreimova try an effort to represent the east inspired thoughts and ideas of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The video should be a visual poem, which is based on the poems of "West-östlicher Diwan" and tries to form everything according to the poetic concepts and meanings.


Soheil Seraji and Nadira Madreimova are a team of animation and video artists from Iran and Russia.


I imagine Goethe climbing these stairs, or Schiller gazing upon the trees from these windows; they would have been filled with a most pleasant feeling of satisfaction had they envisioned these rooms with their writings as a reflection of the future.”

These were the words of Grand Duchess Sophie von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach, who commissioned the Goethe and Schiller Archives, at the ceremonial opening of the archive building on 28 June 1896.

Still today, those ascending to the archives will experience “a most pleasant feeling of satisfaction” when he or she reaches the stone, semi-circular terrace of the classicist archive building on its hill perch. Surrounded by the foothills of the Ilmpark, the building and terrace offer a sweeping panoramic view of the cultural city of Weimar and the silhouettes of some of its most important landmarks.

Below, from the bike path along the llm River, one can look up to the Goethe and Schiller Archives, which rises impressively above the city on the eastern bank of the Ilm between Weimar Town Castle and the Schießhaus (Shooting House).

When the classicistic archive building was proposed during Weimar’s “Silver Age” – a time of commitment to furtherance on an artistic and cultural level – they looked to Versailles for inspiration. Commissioned by Grand Duchess Sophie, the architect Otto Minckert turned his gaze westwards towards the cultural city of Paris. Minckert’s architectural designs were ultimately inspired by the “Petit Trianon” château, northwest of the historic Palace of Versailles. On these lines, today’s Goethe and Schiller Archive in Weimar, commissioned from the outset as a purely functional building, was erected over the period 1893 to 1896.

Probably the most valuable pieces in the archive are the manuscripts and original versions of Goethe’s literary works. The great historical-critical complete edition of Goethe’s works, diaries and letters, known as the Weimar or Sophie edition, was prepared and published already at the time of founding of the archive under the patronage of the ever culturally-minded Grand Duchess Sophie.

Now the oldest literary archives in Germany, the Goethe and Schiller Archives are home to numerous estates of writers, scholars, philosophers, composers and visual artists, publishing archives and individual manuscripts, with a focus on the 18th and 19th centuries, and are considered the most important archive of Weimar’s Golden Age.

In keeping with the “Year of Music 2020”, submissions to the festival are welcome to take orientation and musical inspiration from the divine works of Ludwig van Beethoven.


Use of the photos only with photo credits: © Christian Rothe, Genius Loci Weimar 2020