Zurückgebeugte Räume

The proposal Zurückgebeugte Räume (bent-back spaces) begins conceptually with the Berlin Senate’s application for inclusion on the UNESCO world heritage listing: “Two examples of German architecture: Karl-Marx-Allee and the Interbau 1957. Confrontation, competition and coevolution in divided Berlin”. Today – almost thirty years after reunification – the two urban concepts frame a divided past. But the relationship between East and West is still asymmetrical today. The defeat of the state has been transformed into individual defeats. Grievances are not forgotten, but are passed down from generation to generation. A reconciliation and a shared future is only possible if both sides are able to set aside their opposing views of the past in a shared conceptual space.

The constellation of Hansaviertel/Karl-Marx-Allee offers an opportunity for different generations to create space for the tangible frictions in our social memory where major repercussions for the present and future can unfold. To date Berlin still lacks a space with institutional backing where people can work through the collapse of the GDR and German reunification through processes of dynamic resolution and lively interaction.

The installation and performance Zurückgebeugte Räume creates just such a space in a set-up comprising two tall mirror walls facing one another in the shopping centre at U-Bahnhof Hansaplatz – for a period of three to four weeks, preferably September 2019. This will mean building two freestanding mirror walls each 2.6 m tall along the two tiled walls between Grips-Theater and Bäckerei Thürman. The mirror walls are curved – one convexly, the other concavely – distorting the perception of space and altering perspectives. They have several openings which can be used by actors or members of the public. Through these openings parts of bodies otherwise hidden interact with other bodies.

A number of texts will be developed for the performances that draw on contemporary discourse about commemorative culture as well as interviews and poems. These can be used situationally by the actors (Grips-Theater) and amateurs alike. Together the reflective surfaces and the performers’ bodies create a range of perfomative encounters with passers-by. Performances will take place on approximately fifteen occasions.

The work is intended to open up a space for investigating personal wounds from the era following the end of the Cold War and ideally creating a shared future for East and West.