HB V Artist
Description of work created at Homebase Project V:
Embassy Embassy | Botschaften
Embassy Embassy | Botschaften explores forms of representation and national identity, embodied in the sites and archives of the former Iraq and Australia embassies in East Berlin. The identical architectures and their connecting symbolism lead her to fragments and experiences of a shared and divided history.
I collected testimonies in interviews and then turned them into scripts. Those texts became the sound track for my performances, which were documented in video and installed during an exhibition at Homebase Berlin. The gallery attendant would lend a set of keys to the visitor-come-performing viewer. They were told that their expedition would take a couple of hours and on returning the keys they would be asked a few questions by me about what they found.
A map and audio guide was also given to participants and they could listen to the audio as they surveyed the installation. The audio guide was a clue to the kind of museum visit that was associated with exploring the former embassies. It was not the usual piece of museum technology but an Iraqi telephone with a sixties style Bakelite handle attached to a cord and plug that wouldn't fit in any socket today. I had pried open the mouthpiece that had slightly melted in a squatters fire and installed an mp3 and speaker inside, which played my voice responding to an interrogation at the embassy.
In a series of lectures about the abandoned diplomatic missions of the GDR with architectural historians Florian Urban and Martin Petsch I explored why the architecture of East German Modernism has claims of cultural heritage. I took the abandoned diplomatic missions as a case study under the title Botschaften, a term which means both messages and embassies in German. There were vast amounts of bureaucratic documents to read in the Iraq embassy because the staff had apparently left in a hurry and all their archive, library, and paperwork was still in the abandoned building. I collected dissertations by Iraqi engineering students, propaganda leaflets, and what should be classified embassy correspondence. I exhibited these in the gallery and let the audience draw their own conclusions about what events had taken place and why an intimate cross-section of a sensitive archive was accessible.
Zinnenburg Carroll, 2010
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