The Reconnoiters

Four-part installation (I-IV)

Various

2016

A four-part research project that uses two forms of research material. Firstly  architectural objects drawn from ‘Monument of the GDR’ – an ongoing photographic project that documents historical sites of importance in the former East Germany.Secondly the East German film ‘The Architects’; whose pre and post-production spanned the dissolution of the GDR in 1989/90.

 

The work looks at the role of the contingent in the recent past, through the combination of documentation, footage, screenplays and objects. Ruptures and connections between these elements form the conceptual basis for the project. Aspects of documentary and fiction collapse to re-assess representations in the politics of architecture and contingent practices.

 

I

Screenplay developed from the film The Architects (dir. Peter Kehane, 1990) one of the last films to be produced by the East German film board (DEFA).

 

II

A short edited film pieces together from archive footage originating from DEFA-Studio for Documentary Film, Potsdam. The Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft (DEFA), was the state-owned film studio in the German Democratic Republic. The work splices together footage of building construction in the GDR, punctuated by short statements developed from a screenplay in part 1. The voice in the text addresses an unknown audience, asking them to imagine a variety of filmic sequences. An emphasis and responsibility is placed on the viewer to co-author the unfolding events.

 

III

During the nineteen-eighties and nineteen-nineties, foreign-trade company Limex-Bau was part of an agreement between the GDR and Republic of Ghana that traded construction services for cocoa beans.  Limex-Bau were awarded a contract to dismantle and internationally market 360 fragments of the Berlin Wall. Prior to reunification, profits from Limex-Bau sales went into the East German state treasury. These transactions were widely unpopular, pressurising the GDR to redistribute assets from sales into public health services and historical preservation funds in what was to be one of the last sovereign acts of the socialist state in early 1990.

 

IV

A photograph taken of a frieze mounted above the main entrance to ‘Monument #28 Versuchsbau Großplatten-Montagebauweise’ (Prototype building in Prefab Construction) in Berlin. The frieze depicts in the social-realist style, the construction of the building with a central illustration showing a pre-fabricated concrete panel being lifted into place. It was photographed as part of Cultural Monuments of the GDR, during a research site-visit in 2016.

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I

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4-part screenplay based on ‘The Architects’ dir: Peter Kehane (1990) Photocopies, Gesso & Cement, Powder-coated steel frame | 39cm x 34cm x 68cm

II

Edited and looped footage from digitised DEFA archive with text | 2’12 | colour | no sound

III

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Fence Panel Gauze | Concrete casts from fake piece of Berlin Wall | Ghanian Cocoa Beans

IV

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Monument #51 Prototype Prefab Construction Frieze, Berlin (detail) | Mounted digital photograph on aluminium (Simone Bogner) | 100cm x 22cm