Tag Archives: dolls

The Magic of Michael Jackson’s Memorial in Munich, Germany

The Magic of Michael Jackson’s Memorial in Munich, Germany

© hannah kozak

Michael Jackson memorial in Munich, Germany

One thing everyone should know about me is that I am a BIG fan of Michael Jackson. I’ve have been involved with the Michael Jackson community for more than eight years, and I had heard about the memorial dedicated to him in Munich years ago. I like to visit any Michael Jackson memorials and photograph them (with my MJ dolls, of course). On a recent journey to Germany, I made sure I gaive myself time to do just that. I was going to be in Munich anyway for a photographic series I was doing on my father, who survived eight Nazi forced labor camps. After hearing about Michael’s memorial, I had to make it part of the trip.

I was heading to the hotel that Michael Jackson stayed at many times: Hotel Bayerischer Hof, which was just one turn and 20 minutes from my motel in the Old Town of Munich. I made a left on Promenadeplatz and the grand hotel with its blue awnings came into view.

© hannah kozak

MJ doll in front of Hotel Bayerische Hof.

Michael stayed in suite 32 in 1997 for the History tour and a year later he returned to take his children Prince and Paris to Circus Krone. In 1999, he had a concert at the Olympic Station, “Michael Jackson and Friends” for the Nelson Mandela charity. Due to a technical problem with part of the set, the central section of ‘The Bridge Of No Return’ collapsed, forcing Michael to climb back on to the stage. Michael continued to perform as planned and was taken to the hospital – after collapsing backstage from the pain of the fall. Did I mention I like Michael jackson?

When I arrived at the hotel, I quickly found photos of Michael Jackson’s smiling face. I sat down on a bench adjacent to the monument and overheard two men speaking about Michael.

“Why did he like being with children” they asked one another.

“Do you want to know?” I answered. They were interested, and encouraged me to explain.

“Imagine everywhere you go in the world, from the time you are eight years old, everyone wants something from you: a hand-shake, a hug, a photo, a kiss, a job or for you to listen to their song. Michael was an innocent, soft-spoken, shy, humble man who loved children because they allowed him to be who he was: a child-like soul.” I said.

The men nodded their heads and understood why Michael connected with children. I’m happy I helped them understand why Michael connected with billions of souls across the globe. It is because he was a loving, gentle, humble and kind man.

© hannah kozak

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, no matter where I am in the world, I am never, ever alone. I’m always able to connect with people in another country about Michael.

I walked to Michael’s memorial each of the four nights I was in Munich. On the last afternoon, I had plans to meet my friend, Nena, whom I met four years ago at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, where Michael is buried, on the anniversary of Michael’s birthday. Nena has been responsible for creating and running the memorial in Munich for the past eight years.

© hannah kozak

Nena Akhtar –

Nena received permission from the mayor of the city and the Bavarian Government to put up photos of Michael on a city monument. Every morning before she goes to work at the two coffee shops she owns she goes to the memorial to add fresh flowers. People send donations for the flowers, candles, pictures and laminating the photos people leave in his honor. It’s a non-profit association to remember Michael Jackson. Fans write to Nena from all over the world and come from France, Italy, from Japan, China, American, Australia, Canada. And many fans from Germany also go to meet Nena and see the memorial.

© hannah kozak

Alternate side of MJ Memorial

I was a Hollywood stuntwoman for twenty-five years, and though it might sound crazy, my life changed the day Michael Jackson died. I was working on Iron Man 2 at the time, and after MJ’s death, I endeavored to discover who Michael Jackson truly was. (Not what the media tried to force feed us.) Thus began my organic, eight-year ongoing series, Searching for Michael Jackson.

These photos are part of my journey to understand the man Michael Jackson was, and also functioned as an outlet for me to meet other MJ fans from around the world. My MJ dolls have been to Warsaw, Krakow, Prague, Budapest, and now Munich, and it’s been a fulfilling, but more importantly, fun, experience to photograph the dolls with Michael Jackson memorials.

My favorite photographs of my MJ doll and photos of Michael are the ones I made in the rain with water drops on my jacket sleeve. I love all the colors from the photographs of Michael on the monument along with the candles, flowers and the backdrop of the hotel.

© hannah kozak

I have visited MJ memorials around the world including the one in Budapest, Hungary and I always find it comforting to visit a memorial dedicated to the King of Pop, clear across the Atlantic ocean, so far from my home in Los Angeles. As I travel alone, seeing all the love for Michael is a real comfort, and helps to soothe my soul.

The Magic of Michael Jackson’s Memorial in Munich, Germany

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My Mother’s Dolls part 3

My Mother’s Dolls part 3

This project began organically in December 2009 as a way for me to get to know the mother I truly never knew. The camera brought me connection and separation, all at once. I was given the gift of intuitive observance and another gift of recording that observance. I learned to be bold and vulnerable simultaneously. Eight years later, I am continuing my photo essay on my mother called He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard. It’s as if the project took on a life of its own once I started. I sometimes wonder if genetic memory of being a second-generation Holocaust survivor triggered my need not only to recognize but also to spend years of my life creating photos, editing those photos and turning this project into a book, to help tell this story of a social injustice — domestic violence — about which more stories need to be told.

I dreaded being indiscreet, but invading my mother’s and my privacy was the only way to tell this story. I am sharing my mother with the larger audience because eventually publishing a book on her story would be a small victory. She instills such hope in me. I am witness to her heart and her immense reservoir of compassion for humanity. Her entire being is imbued with the quiet principles of spirituality: living in the moment, being non judgmental, forgiving, and kind.

My father used to tell me that what happened to his family and the Jews in Europe in World War II could easily happen again. So I question everything and that’s part of my storytelling aim as a photographer: questioning and sharing. We are only here for a short time so part of my goal is to create something positive for humanity. I love photography because each person will interpret an image through their own individual eyes. Ernest Hemingway said we should write hard and clear about what hurts. I believe this translates to all art forms. This blog is part three of My Mother’s Dolls. It’s an edit of my mother with various dolls she loves, that keep her company day and night.

© hannah kozak

May 16, 2014

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26 May 2014

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23 Nov 2014

© hannah kozak

8 December 2014

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8 March 2015

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4 April 2015
After moving into new facility.

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17 April 2015

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23 April 2015
With Olivia and baby Olivia

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13 June 2015

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14 June 2015

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19 June 2015

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22 June 2015

@ hannah kozak

12 July 2015

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12 July 2015

@ hannah kozak

22 July 2015

As a bittersweet sidenote, I was awarded the Julia Margaret Cameron Award, 6th Edition, 1st Prize – single Documentary photo from my series on my mother —
He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard.

This project also made it to the finalists for the CDS/Honickman, Duke University 1st Book Prize in Photography 2014.http://firstbookprizephoto.com/hannah-kozak-2014-finalist/

And, this project make it to semi-finalists for the CDS/Honickman, Duke University 1st Book Prize in Photography, 2016.

Early this week I asked my mother what she does every night. She said “I pray to G-d to help me.” “To help me with happiness, I don’t know how to explain.” And then she said “The hardest part of my life is accepting things.” “I want to be like you, Hannah. I want to walk.”

My Mother’s Dolls part 3


My Mother’s Dolls part 2

My Mother’s Dolls part 2

This is Part Two of the series, My Mother’s Dolls. These photos are a continuation of the series: He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard, which began in December 2009. My mother is in a wheelchair, brain damaged from her second husband’s abuse. She cannot pick up the phone when she is feeling lonely to hear a familiar voice. Or take a walk in the neighborhood, listening to birds singing. Reading a book isn’t an option. She can’t reach out for a dog or cat to pet. Yet she manages to smile at the littlest things, like her dolls. Small reassuring beings, friends in quiet moments.

I have been a participant observer, documenting my mother’s nearly adult lifetime confinement to a nursing home after a brutal beating by her second husband.

I will continue to focus on the comfort objects that help my mother get through her day. These nurturing dolls are my mother’s friends, day and night.

Hannah_Kozak_My_Mother's_Dolls-1109

© hannah kozak

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Guatemalan doll

© hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

In emergency room

© hannah kozak

Dora and Hello Kitty

© hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

Dinner time

© hannah kozak

 © hannah kozak

My mother was having lunch. I walked into her room and saw her freshly made bed.

My Mother’s Dolls part 2


My Mother’s Dolls

My Mother’s Dolls

Forgiveness and Compassion

My mother’s birthday is around the corner, and I am ironing nametags onto the various stuffed animals I have chosen for her. I run the hot silver plate over the back of a stuffed grey and black kitty, sealing my mother’s name onto his back, making it hers. My mother loves her stuffed animals. They are her companions, keeping her company and bringing her comfort during the day and late at night.

My mother is in a wheelchair, brain damaged from her second husband’s abuse. She cannot pick up the phone when she is feeling lonely to hear a familiar voice. Or take a walk in the neighborhood, listening to birds singing. Reading a book isn’t an option. She can’t reach out for a dog or cat to pet. Yet she manages to smile at the littlest things, like her dolls. Small reassuring beings, friends in quiet moments.

I have been a participant observer, documenting my mother’s nearly adult lifetime confinement to a nursing home after a brutal beating by her second husband.

http://hannahkozak.com/he-threw-the-last-punch-too-har/

My mother is the longest living resident in her home for the aged. When she entered the home, we had run out of options. I understood her anger. I’d be pissed, too, if I ended up crippled, but the women taking care of her couldn’t handle her explosions from frustration. My mother was a passionate brunette from Guatemala who used to dance the Flamenco. My uncle told me men would throw their wallets at her. Today she is incapacitated to the point where she cannot walk, feed or clothe herself.

This is Part One of the series, My Mother’s Dolls.

These photos are a continuation of that series; He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard, which began in December 2009. I am focusing here on the comfort objects that allow my mother to get through the day, nurturing and loving dolls that stand in for the life she lost.

My mother's new dolls for Mother's Day 2014

My mother’s new dolls for Mother’s Day 2014

My mother in Guatemala.

My mother in Guatemala.

@ hannah kozak

Olivia, her favorite

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The Snowman

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

Another favorite – doll I brought her from Antigua, Guatemala.

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

My mother and MJ Thriller doll

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

As a bittersweet sidenote, I was awarded the Julia Margaret Cameron Award, 6th Edition, 1st Prize – single Documentary photo from my series on my mother, He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard.

That project also made it to the finalists for the CDS/Honickman, Duke University 1st Book Prize in Photography 2014.

http://firstbookprizephoto.com/hannah-kozak-2014-finalist/

My Mother’s Dolls


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