Corona Files 2021

From 8 Match the rules change!

8 March

Two people from different houses can meet outside for recreation, which can include “a coffee on a bench”

but everything non essential stayed closed – bars, restaurants, all shops not for essentials stay close

29 March

People will be allowed to meet outside, either with one other household or within the “rule of six”, including in private gardens

12 April

Shops allowed to open

Restaurants and pub gardens will be allowed to serve customers sitting outdoors, including alcohol

Can write something briefly and something about our lockdown rules and all the zoom, zoom and zoom experience with an image from this series. Luckily I dont have to use it for proper work otherwise i would go mad.

Just let me know.

all the best, Siraj Izhar (London)

Rasso Rottenfusser, München
Alan Perez, Gibraltar
Jessica Arseneau, Standstill, 2020
Kathrin Rabenort
January, 2021

Corona Files

So from now in London this confusing Brexit govt tells us we can at last visit other people’s homes, but only in their garden and keep 2m away. And only 1 house per day. Strictly no mixing people from different houses in 1 day.
And also if we have to, we are allowed to use the toilet of the house that we visit. These are the rules but who will police all this?
They say they have already fined 14,000 people for rule breaking but when there is a big demonstration like this week for George Floyd, all the rules disappear as everyone comes out.
And people in the government are breaking the rules and then give excuses on television – like going 60 miles for an eye test. It’s a very strange confusing time.

We are allowed to travel unlimited distance to go to exercise but can not use the trains unless we have an essential reason. Risky if you get stopped.
So a lot of people are driving – near where I live the traffic can be more than 1 mile, just one person in a car about 40 times their body weight to move around. With all the pollution.
I am thinking of going to the sea next week (Brighton) to get some clean air – if the rules will change again, to stay with friends. (Siraj Izhar, London)

Marit Lindberg (Sweden)
(Christian Stock, Tux)

Wow, its difficult to be imaginative when a prisoner of the State.
I wrote a couple of essays on my blog on corona which got a lot of responses – they are also in other places.
Playing around with some ideas but nothing concrete. My time clock is too messed up. I sleep a lot.
I take a regular walk in the city and the Thames; the City is eerie, the homeless are struggling in particular as everyone has disappeared. There is a big gap here between what is said in the media and what happens in practice.
Anyhow to see the empty deserted monuments of Capital is very poetic

but of course the money extraction from around the world is still going on.
Want to make a work at some point….

When its low tide, I go on the Thames.

The geese and other birds keep me sane.
How long for….
Wish I could escape. I think Berlin would have been easier than London. (Siraj Izhar, London)

During the time of the big lockdown here in Vienna I made the recordings for the short film “Spring Will Not Be Televised“. The focus of these recordings is on TV-Sets in private living spaces that are visible from the streets outside. During nightly walks through the city I aimed to find as many of these TV-Sets as possible and to film the programs that were televised. In the cutting process I later tried to form a narrative out of the collected footage in a very free and associative way. The result, rather automatically than intended, turned into a media-based portrait of our present-day world.

What particularly interests me in this project is the fact that it is built on two visual levels.

The first level is the one of the televised image. It enables both, a view outside onto what´s going on in the world but also inside, onto the interests and media habits of the TV viewer. In times of isolation the wish for escapism and the dependency from digital media become visible more than usual. In this situation, media not just functions for purposes of entertainment but as one of the only sources for information about the world outside.

The second visual level is the environment the TV-Set is placed in. Here I tried to portray the ways of how information spreads through media. The film starts with images of the big TV-stations and media houses. Therefor I filmed inside the newsrooms from the streets outside. Starting at these epicenters of information the camera the pans to the media consumers. As the perspective gets closer and closer into the private spaces the images on the TV-Sets become clearer. Finally you have to feeling to stand inside the living rooms of the TV viewers.

For me personally the film shows an atmospheric picture of a society in state of emergency. At the same time I think that the pictures indicate how society has maneuvered itself into this situation by it´s doubtful ways of acing and dealing with the world. (Michael Heindl, Wien)

(Kathrin Rabenort, Köln)
(Kate McCabe, Mojave Desert)
(Max Sudhues, Berlin)
(Agnes Prammer, Wien)
Munich, South thermal power station
the good weather and my well-behaved adherence to the rule not to go mountaineering because of the pandemic is driving me crazy.
As compensation I paint large-format alpine landscapes with African groups of people.
In Photoshop I mount a giant pocket watch in a bizarre rock gate.
In a moment I will call Robert to see if we can go climbing on a hidden rock.
Robert says: not so. (Wolfgang Aichner, München)
(Wolfgang Aichner/Thomas Huber, München)
lot of hope also to change things for a better world. (Kim Dotty Hachmann, Berlin)
New times, call for new Looks-self-portrait with homemade mask that was created out of recycled art supplies. (Tina Dillman, Pittsburgh, PA, USA)
Here is a performance documentation I did with Krinzinger called Interruption (Duo)
At this a certain fragility and calmness as the singers feel the tremors of the fluorescent lights beating underneath their bodies.
I feel it has a sense of being on hold and poised in a delicate balance. The fluorescents are themselves at the end of their lives so there is space of intermittent and precarious behaviours going on but with a sense of rebirth too which I feel all adds up to a reflection on current times…(William Mackrell, London)
The streets are more empty than usual, but it is far from being quiet out there. I live on a very busy street, the overground U-Bahn is in full view. I noticed that the church bells ring at noon. I work mostly from home but I feel mostly imageless. My desk looks like this at the moment. (Jorn Ebner, Berlin)
(Matthias Beckmann, Schautafel des Schuppentiers Pangolin: Schuppentier, Skelett des Schuppentiers, Schuppentier in eingerollter Pose, Berlin 2020)
The pangolin is maby the host of the corona virus.
( India Roper-Evans , London)
(Win Knowlton, Berlin Wall 2020, Berlin)
Looking out the window of the Lichtenberg Studios July 2019, Yash, Bangalore

(Surekha, Bangalore)

Christian Stock, Wien/Tux, “Kri(e)se” Dispersion on canvas, 100 x 100 cm, 1985
( India Roper-Evans , London)

I was calling to Sweden today and my friend reported that her mother is concerned about the police state in Czech Republic, while she is concerned about that the Swedish state is doing less to protect people. Write now she is reading Magic Mountain (Der Zauberberg) by Thomas Mann.

(Matthias Roth, Berlin)

(Max Sudues, Berlin)

Poem for Rod

ticking

art or poetry

we are

our part

life itself

the human world

the end

I am not your danger

(Jürgen Olbich, Kassel)

Actually, everything is quite bickering, everyone is allowed out, but only in twos, or if from a household with several, everything is up to except groceries, drugstores, apotecs, gas stations and „Spätis“. In Bavaria, only those people who live together or are “life partners”, whatever that means, are allowed to go out together. That is really terrible, with over 50 percent of single households a very stupid decision, I feel sorry for the poor people.

Everyone more or less adheres to these commandments and the rules of distance, about 2 meters apart. From time to time there is already tension, some older people become almost hysterical, they have very much internalized that the old have less chance to survive, while the young remain quite safe, especially the high death rates from Italy are worrying.
Not too much has changed for me, I work mostly from home anyway, but I can no longer go out to eat or celebrate, nor organize parties or openings myself, nor can I travel. Now I do sports via Youtube instructions at home with my girlfriend, not bad at all, outside in the yard I start to do tests for a new project for interventions in public space, because I can’t come to my friends and workshop in the Uckermark.

Economically I’m doing reasonably well, I have a fixed income for this year, which hasn’t broken away, but I’m very worried about the whole cultural structure, but also about the small-scale economic life, if we have bad luck, we’ll end up in front of international chains and a mail order company… (Uwe Jonas, 28 March, Berlin)

March, 2020

Caro Krebietke

Even before arriving at the Lichtenberg studios, I see a blue banner on the side of the road:
“Rent your seal!” – Advertising for a well-known car rental company in the city.

The following day I visit the Lichtenberg polar bears in the zoo. Tonja and her four-year-old daughter Hertha.

“The Seal’s Dread – Horror of the Seals,” is what sailors used to call polar bears in earlier times.

When the pack ice still reached to the horizon.

Hertha plays in the murky water with a thick roller made of hard foam. Again and again she turns her toy, bites off small pieces of it, dives underneath. Tonja sits on an artificial rock on the shore and watches her daughter.

A white plastic ice floe rocks lazily in the pool, covered in algae, a piece of fake Arctic for the park visitors.

Polar bears are carnivores, seal eaters, and if need be they will also take fish or anything else, such as berries, honey or the contents of rubbish bins.

Rent a seal – for as little as 3.50 an hour, and all around the roaring traffic, Siegfriedstraße corner Herzbergstraße.

Here seals have four wheels and a lot of loading space.

Lichtenberg, the seal paradise, where the predator turns a plastic roller and sweats in the summer sun.

August, 2022

Srinivas Harivanam

A brief journey of my residency at Lichtenburg studio, Berlin.

Residency generously supported by Goethe institute Bangalore.

Traveling through the immigration point of the Bangalore airport and crossing the security check, crossing the borders of the Middle East and flying over eastern Europe, then finally landing on the Berlin airport runway and once more – getting a crossover at the immigration checkpoint. This, in a nutshell, was an experience full of shakiness. An unknown feeling of being fearful – of the unnecessary questioning that could happen because of my color or my passport. It felt as if the borders from the nation-states had been extruded onto the skyline, and the aircraft was passing through them all to reach Berlin.

Having been received at the Berlin airport by the Lichtenburg Studio Director Uwe, we traveled to the studio in RE Bahn; the images that I witnessed immediately were a surplus of information and messages inscribed on the walls of Berlin. Despite having lived in New Delhi, Bangalore, and Ahmedabad previously – cities were marked by variations of color; it was words and drawings that marked the skin of Berlin.

To allow a quick re-positioning of myself in the new landscape of Lichtenburg, I started the first day with a bicycle ride along the Frankfurt alle to Alexander Platz and then back to the Studio. Having spent some days cycling around the Lichtenburg district and the areas surrounding it, what attracted me most was the Rummesldburg bay region. I suppose it was because of my interests and engagement with the river basin of the Tungabhadra in the Deccan plateau of Southern India. But the remarkable thing about the water bodies is that they have always been places of attraction for life to prosper. Most civilizations flourished across riverbanks, for instance, around the Indus River in the case of the Harrapan Civilization in the sub-continent. It is a relaxation when we move around the water bodies; after all, we have already traveled from aquatic beings to terrestrial beings a few million years back. The river spree not only cuts through the city of Berlin, but it is also a structural armature that Berlin city holds on to. On the edges of the Lichtenburg and Friedrichshain district, the river spree holds a vast water body in the form of a Bay, which has become an essential, recreational, and scenic beauty around the neighborhood—also attracting builders and investors to create housing around the bay region.

My interest in the landscape of the spree and the Rummesldburg bay led me to delve into stories from the times of the GDR times to today. On the 8th of June, I had a chance to meet local artists at a dinner party arranged at the studio, which allowed me to engage in a deeper conversation about the politics of the Bay landscape in the last three years. I went through newspaper articles about the bay region, which allowed me to know about the forthcoming coral worlds, workspaces, and other apartments that could come up around the area. It has become a hot spot in attracting the concrete gold to build around the bay, with the motto of ‘my Bay my way.’

The discussions were continuously around the bay region’s recent construction activities, with in-person interviews with the people at the bay shore and a few site visits. The bay has also been under a lot of focus for the last few years because of intense, rapid development and the consequence of these changes in whole landscape.

The Rummesldburg bay was also a carrier of several camps previously, of more than a hundred homeless people, but on one fine freezing midnight, everything was evacuated under the pretext of protection against the extreme cold, but now the site is covered with giant cranes and bulldozers working to build high-quality condominiums. Old housing apartments, which were housing clubs, social spaces, and DIY communities, were demolished and replaced, making way for spectacular structures with the interests of investors.

The fencing has been applied on either side of the narrow pathway on the head of the U shape of Bay, also called as ‘Paul u Paul ufer”, named after a well know GDR movie ‘Die Legende von Pahul und Paula (1973)’ that was also filmed here.

Nowadays, the U-shaped ‘Paul u Paul ufer’ is fenced for construction and the cleaning of the Rummesldburg bay water – a justification being that the water is contaminated by chemicals from wartime and not suitable for swimming. Although there is a conversation between the local people and the government authorities about forced evacuation and construction, the presence of a fence around the place made me rethink the landscape. I was looking at the border in the larger context of the world we live in now, and from the cultural background from which I come.

The presence of my body and my identity around Berlin allowed me to experience how fences can also travel through the body and the mind – till it creates divisions. When I speak of the fence, I am alluding to all the social structures which create a divide in humanity because it signifies the Other, policing, hierarchy, and exclusion. Mainly, my concern is with regards to the deep-rooted caste system prevailing in the Indian subcontinent and the colonial gaze.

The manifold experiences and memories inscribed on my body – born in a washerman community and the xenophobic gaze on my body bring about an impulsive rage. This rage pushes me to dismantle the caste and colonial structures that play a role in choosing the fence on Rummesldburg bay as a site for intervention. Looking at the ongoing politics – from the global context to the Indian sub-continent context, the division is funded by capitalist institutes and orthodox religious ideas. I thought that the erasure of barricades could be a way for me to communicate. Recalling the history of the breaking of fences and crossing over walls, with respect to the Berlin wall, has too much human suffering. But still, we are not free from these impenetrable walls, and borders are still present physically as well as deep-rooted barriers in the mindset and gaze.

The intervention is the idea of a ladder that is in the action of breaking the fences around Rummesldburg bay, Berlin. It is a comment and antithesis to the larger border systems, boundaries, exclusions, and discriminations worldwide, which make human suffering possible. It could have allowed for a culturally public-oriented open space – public spaces were always the spine of good communities; but instead, massive real estate interests are driven by it. However, the interventions attempt to dispel the fence as a medium, which justifies the bifurcation by building the costly condominiums and corporate buildings, flagging the possibilities of cultural space and social housing, and allowing the real estate price to rise.

The Ladder is constructed with softwood, and it’s nonfunctional with a wireframe body, just as an idea of erasing the borders. I see these fences as the manifestation of more extensive walls that are present to instill the social sorting of people because of Class, Caste, Race, Gender, and Geographical inequalities. The artifact holds a bright pink color to stand out in the landscape and avoid accidents for people walking on the pathway. The artifact installation took place twice; in our first attempt, we placed it beside the bench, which was empty and blocked due to the fencing, and in the second attempt, we placed it facing the Bay.

In another intervention, I placed a note on the fence, allowing the passerby to have a look. The attached note asked for reconsideration via a comment, which occurs when a user seeks to permanently delete multiple items in a computer interface. I saw this demolition and building of less accessible areas around the bay region as an indication of creating fortifications that instill social division.

Until now, the story was about the installation process and what drove me to install the object at the specific landscape site. But after installing the artifact, it was the reflections the following day, that I desired to know from the local crowd and the authorities. The locals and the people from the local neighborhood usually move for an evening stroll around the narrow path. Interestingly, the kids were interested in the form of the wireframe that resembled a kind of a staircase structure and asked questions about its presence here. Also, some concerned neighborhood residents were getting the point and telling me they also have the fact I am questioning too.

The next day when I visited the site, the ladder was not in the form it was installed; but instead, it was deformed and demolished, and placed on the other side of the fence.

I then considered that this was the reply I had received from the construction authorities. But the deformed ladder still held the idea of breaking the fence; even in the state of its brokenness, one could see its ladder form.

When I visited the site after four days, a small piece of the ladder, consisting of 3 steps, had been placed vertically on the fence, signifying the possibility of still breaking the fence over the site. I assume this could have transpired due to a few concerned residents who were interested in this topic that had placed it in that orientation. The note was removed after two days, and only the threads I used to attach it remained present on the fence. But after my residency, I could say I have focused on creating a line that is bisecting the wall and continues to develop more lines to interlace collective solidarity and surface against all social stratification, division, and oppression leading to human suffering.

August, 2022