In the video installation, “PUBLIC FIGURES, on the making of Berlin,” we look at Berlin through its seemingly static statues and immovable monuments and instead view the city as a living creation changing with the dreams, politics, field of vision of the decision makers and perceptions of its inhabitants.
Through a series of video installations, we explore how Berlin is personified through its statues, or its public figures. From Konigin Louise located in Tiergarten in an island apart from Konig Frederick William III, to Bismark, set back from the busy Siegessäule round about, to the Trümmerfrauen hidden in a field of wheat. Each statue is an allegory for different characteristics admired at the time of creation, from diplomacy to cunning.
We also look at what is absent. What history is missing in existing contextualization, dialogue and representation? Why is Bismark sitting amongst symbols of Africa? What is a statue of the lone Vietnamese mother doing in Kopernick? And why does an entire district take its name after a scammer? How was meaning changed over time, turning an admiration for artistic work into a glorification of national identity. Why do some of the figures who rebuilt Berlin after WWII get public space while other like the Turkish workers, have no place? And why is a Spieplatz with a middle eastern folk tale reference under attack.
The work explores how the echoes of history have shaped our perceptions of Berlin’s public figures? It looks at how the theme of war has played a dominant role in this projection? And it looks for glimpses of the dreams and visions placed on these figures by both makers and the viewers?
PUBLIC FIGURES, Visualized in 3 Parts:
Part 1: PUBLIC FIGURES is a video installation based on images of six figures found in the public parks of Berlin – Konigig Luise, Bismark, Koppernick, the Trummerfrauen, a Vietnamese mother, and the absent Turkish worker. Video of the statues are mixed with historical images, historical references and voices from visitors today. The resulting collage questions what we see when we encounter these statues today.
Time: 9-minute loop
Part 2: MOVING STATUES using mapping and time based visualization to show the rise and fall of the monuments in Tiergarten and the role of war and death in the largest public space in Berlin. From its original use as a hunting ground Tiergarten has grown and morphed over time including massive upheavals with the rise of Hitler and the end of WWII. Changes continue to occur with the creation of new monuments remembering additional victims of war.
Time: 2-minute loop
Part 3: NAMING PLACES uses text and images to visualize the decision-making process of the naming of Käthe-Paulus-Zeile, named after Germany’s first female airship pilot and inventor of the folding parachute.
Time: 2-minute loop
Filmmaker: Laura J. Lukitsch, www.laurajlukitsch.com
Photographer: Gundula Friese, www.gundulafriese.com