#9: In Between Conflicts

We visited the Hamburger Bahnhof Contemporary museum in Berlin the day before. It was the 20th anniversary of the museum and the amount of visitors was enormous. The atmosphere was different on this day, and the visitors were invading the space more then normally. The day after in the Stasi museum, while wandering trough the exhibition space, it also felt as though there was a different atmosphere then normal in the museum. Visitors were withdrawn, personally engaged and aware of each other’s private space.


In the Hamburger Bahnhof I had enjoyed watching a little girl who was rearranging the exhibition, it was very colorful and free. The atmosphere in the Stasi Museum was in contrast to this. There I was confronted with evidence of the abuse of the playfulness of children, till such a point that war would become normal in their daily lives. Taking in this information of a controlled life, the pressure and secrecy, I got a feeling of wanting to do something prohibited. But this revealed a conflict, the guards were really friendly and helpful, so this would not make any sense. Normally I work more with creating sculptural images and bodily-related actions rather than working conceptually, so what to do in space that had so much conceptual content?

After visiting the toilet a few times, I decided to write down words I encountered that spoke to me and hide them in the museum. I hid them in different spots to give words to the layers in between this loaded space. I hid 11 notes.


For some weeks after the wall came down many Stasi staff remained in their offices, trying to destroy evidence that could land them in jail or expose their spies in foreign countries. In the Stasi museum is a paper shredder that they used for this purpose. The recovery of these files by volunteers as evidence of crimes was an opportunity to do something to get the Stasi punished for their crimes, and for the victims to mourn.

This historical event inspired me to recover my notes and destroy them, to cut them into little pieces. I made several rounds amongst my papers and came to the conclusion that some got lost and some were moved. In between I had a need for retrieving myself so I hid myself in a small corridor that could be locked from both sides. Here I found that I could be with myself within these layers of history while listening to the visitors walking by. I became a witness rather than a participating museum visitor. Here I also destroyed my papers. The smell of this building is the most consistent factor for me; a mixture of the waxed floor, metal, paper files, laminated wood, typewriters and lots and lots of smoke. It is a smell that I recognize from being in offices throughout my childhood.

After going trough my pieces of paper I came to the conclusion that I had lost 4 papers with the following words:


So I conclude, ‘The betrayer is processing psychological harassment and is now hostile to socialism as a conclusion.’


Photos/video: JJ