In acknowledgement of the fifth anniversary of receiving my MFA, I’ve decided to post my thesis – typos and all.
While some of my feelings have changed since I wrote it, mostly I find that am still coming up against the same questions in my work as I did then. I am not sure if this points to a lack of progress or that I have stumbled onto some central theme for my work.
In the end, the project that was the basis for my thesis was quite pivotal for how Das Fundbuero developed in Leipzig. That, along with the distance in time from the whole master’s experience lets me view the work somewhat more objectively and reevaluate its relative success and failures. I feel much better about this project than I did in 2009, and I’ve realized that “building community” in the traditional sense – a certain harmony between project participants – is not one of my goals; I am more interested in how we deal with those people whom we do not like or do not agree with – how do we continue to work productively in spite of such conflict? As usual, I don’t have a clear or concise answer for this yet, but I’m working at it from a few angles and hope to address it in written form sometimes soon.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the thesis.
From October 16th through October 20th I am presenting a sound installation in the Ruhmeshalle of the Völkerschlachtdenkmal in Leipzig.
2013 is the 200th anniversary of the Völkerschlacht, when Napoleon’s forces were defeated in Germany, and the 100th anniversary of the Völkerschlachtdenkmal, the monument to this battle. The monument was designed to support an origin myth of the Germany, to unify disparate regions with different and perhaps competing goals and desires. But the monument presents an image created before both World Wars and the following separation of Germany. In 2013 we see the monument with an additional 100 years of history and a new perspective.
In the Ruhmeshalle (Hall of Fame) are four 9.5 meter high figures representing the “virtues of the German people”: bravery in battle (Tapferkeit), willingness to sacrifice (Opferbereitschaft), unwavering faith (Glaubensstärke) and ethnic strength (Volkskraft). The audio installation takes the form of a conversation between these four colossal figures. What do these symbols of Germany have to say about their 100 years of existence? How do they see their own relevance today? The conversation was developed from interviews and an online survey with German citizens about “German Identity”. The content may seem familiar, but acquires new meaning in the context of the hall.
The conversation will play once per hour in the hall during opening hours, excepting times for scheduled tours and events. If you can’t see it is Leipzig, check the projects section of this site for documentation in the coming month.
Stimmen der Ruhmeshalle is part of the project “fireworks and smokebombs”, a critical look at the memorial culture surrounding this anniversary. The project includes specially commissioned artworks as well as conferences and academic presentations. More about the whole project (in German) here.