Watchtower/ Ghosts. About the (Im-)Possibility of Speaking about 89

Three-month artistic research project at Flutgraben e.V. & the Watchtower at Schlesischer Busch, Berlin Treptow, 2010

In a series of talks and presentations the project brought together artistic, activist, documentary and theoretical materials and positions from and about the historical events of 89 in East Germany in an attempt to create a shared space in which the utopian and radical aspects of this period might re-emerge, ghostlike, at the borders and in the fissures of the official histories of the time.

A four-part series of talks, »Bleibe im Land und wehre dich täglich« The Experience of 89 as Political Resource, invited guests to discuss – from within their specific double positions as both protagonists and analysts/ historians – themes such as the (non-)role of art in the political events of 89, the (non-)continuity of East German critical practices into the present political landscape, and the domestication of 89 through the mechanisms of its historization. The Research Station on the top floor of the watchtower, which formed the conceptual and logistical centre of the project, consisted of a combined work space/ archive built from old East German furniture in collaboration with artist Inken Reinert. On the middle floor of the tower works by invited artists as well as documentary materials were made accessible to visitors and passers-by in changing short-term exhibitions.

The project took place on invitation by the Flutgraben e.V. Guest Tutorship Programme.


Programme of Talks and Presentations:

Svetlana Boym ”Phantasmagorias of History”
Exhibition, 11th – 13th June

Using images of moments of political upheaval and potentiality, Svetlana Boym’s Phantasmagorias conjure up sympathetic ghosts of multiple potential histories in an attempt to “brush history against the grain,” and to construct an alternative narrative for twentieth and twenty first century culture.

Opening of the Research Station and Artist Talk Inken Reinert
Friday, 25th June 2010

Inken Reinert has been working with components of old East German wall units which she assembles into sculptures – public installations that function as points of overlap between private and public, architecture and interior design. Last year, filmmaker Bianca Bodau accompanied her to different sites in East Berlin, where a mobile installation became the focus of conversations with passers-by. Most conversations, however, quickly took a turn for the predictably and uncritically nostalgic. Using passages from these recordings, the talk will centre on the question of how biographic rupture and social transformation might nonetheless be addressed against or through the lure of the nostalgic.

Tina Bara “Herbstmodell 1989/ 2009”
Artist Presentation, 10th July

In her recent “letter projects” Tina Bara revisits her own photographic work from 1989 and before, from a present perspective. Her piece “Herbstmodell 1989/ 90” were shown at the watchtower in conjunction with the talk „Kunst und 1989.“ (Art and 89) A Talk with Tina Bara, Claus Löser, Angelika Richter.

Elske Rosenfeld „The Table Was (Not) Round“
Artist Presentation, 31st July

A first edit of video material filmed at a „found re-enactment“ of the first meeting of the Round Table of the GDR on December 7th 1989, re-staged by some of the original protagonists upon invitation by the Evangelische Akademie on December 7th 2009.