Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Stasi Museum Leipzig

September 11, 2006 gave me pause to reflect on the chilling return of authoritarian and fascist ideologies, from both within and without, and our general inability as an art community to respond to these threats in any meaningful way. One rare exception can be found in the Museum of Modern Art’s recently opened exhibition ‘Out of Time’ in New York. Amidst the clutter of this effort to display the museum’s contemporary collection is the haunting four-screen video projection work ‘Stasi City’ (1997) by the British artists Jane and Louise Wilson. Here’s how Roberta Smith describes the work in The New York Times: "'Stasi City,’ takes us on a clanging, Cubist tour of the abandoned headquarters of East Germany’s secret police. This symbol of daunting power becomes a readymade. Relentless tracking shots and dumbwaiters used to disorienting effect move us up, down and through the building, along endless hallways, into office-like interrogation chambers (note the padded doors), past revolving file boxes once filled with dossiers. The dead-end is a room for medical examinations, surgery or perhaps torture. Its floor is littered with blue and white flakes of peeled paint that evoke a vast Arctic ice pack. With its mordant slapstick, ‘Stasi City’ may be a structuralist version of ‘Dr. Strangelove,’ but it undercuts tragedy with the suggestion that evil ultimately crumbles and falls away. And its formal rigor is itself cause for hope.”

More daunting still, see the real thing. There are Stasi Museums in former Stasi headquarters in both Leipzig and Berlin. Each museum has a thoughtful website worth further reflection; I’ve included a link below to the site here in Leipzig. Dittrichring 24; 14:00-18:00 Wednesday to Sunday; admission free.

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