Frederick the Great’s summer residence Sanssouci features a vast park with all kinds of interesting buildings and sculptures.
Uncommon plants, angels, truncated heads, fauns – all in some form of isolation, for individual contemplation, and all with a sense of esthetic that is not quite our own anymore – suggest that Frederick consciously made an attempt to deal with the Other, the unfamiliar, the strange and alien.
The Chinese Pavilion gives an idea of the sophistication of other cultures, using a sense of beauty that was his — not necessarily theirs.
Then a rondel with six busts, a Roman emperor, a philosopher, and four Africans, in rich dresses and again with an assuring beauty.
Insufficient as this is, this maybe is a way to give the Otherness presence through beauty, a way which we have lost, it seems, sadly.
When looking itself has become an aggression, isn’t it necessary to see even the familiar differently, to unlearn our sense of beauty, and to begin again, by offering presence?