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barbara claussen

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ein sicherer platz

My installation, Ein Sicherer Platz, investigated issues about surveillance, setting up protection and privacy as oppositional forces. I constructed a small, protective space and installed it in the courtyard of a medieval castle in eastern Germany. Historically the Burg Beeskow functioned as a fortress in the 1200s. Later, during the final days of World War II, it became a battleground between Russian and German forces, and after the war refugees lived in the tower.  The walls were damaged during the war and have not all been rebuilt. Burg Beeskow currently serves as a designated refuge for victims of racist and fascist attacks.

Materials for Ein Sicherer Platz were extracted from an 1880s German living space.  The unoriginality of the decorative transom references the history of kitsch and its link to totalitarianism and its propaganda by theorists and writers such as Milan Kundera.  In my artificial space things are not as they first appear.

As visitors walked past the structure a voice enticed them to enter the space by assuring them that it was a safe place, they would be protected and they had permission to enter. After people entered, the voice told them that they had nothing to worry about, they were in a safe place and they shouldn't worry. A scrawled Vorsicht (Beware) on the wall directed their gaze through a plexiglas window to a camera concealed in the tree outside the enclosed space. This discovery contradicted the spoken message that it was a safe place, referencing the East German history of surveillance and the current factious dialogue about the balance between public safety and personal privacy.

 

 

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