Okkupation I Reaction and Resistance

Reaction and Resistance

By Leonie Baumann




At the moment the project of Aage Langhelle, a Norwegian artist, is running at the U-Bahnhof Alexanderplatz I 1 IWithin the "Bahnhof Alexanderplatz U2" project of the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (NGBK), Berlin in the frame of NGBK's artist competition 'Alexanderplatz U2', where all 32 billboards spaces are being used. He has taken the initials 'DDR' and applied them in lower-case to well-known advertising logos. If you look closer you will notice that for copyright reasons these have been slightly altered. But they are the logos used for washing powder, for tourist bureaus, for shoe firms etc. Langhelle realised this idea because he was of the opinion that a transformation process was obviously at work here: When the DDR collapsed the people hoped for freedom and for a better and more beautiful life. Instead pure business interests have replaced the previous form of government. This, in short, is his thesis. Unexpectedly for me, a big debate has sparked off about the project behind the scenes. FDP has made an inquiry into whether the Senate has used public means to glorify an unjust system in the public space. The Senate has - after consulting us - answered this inquiry as follows: This area is defined as an art site, and the users of the U-bahn would know that in this place art has been displayed for quite some time. And last but not least that this was an art project organised by the Kunstverein, whereby a jury selected the art projects without the Senate objecting to their selection.

Another comment came from the sprayer scene: One day one of the 'ddr' billboards was removed and replaced by another billboard with the logo 'CBS'. This is a logo by a well-known sprayer group. 'CBS' often pops up throughout the city space and has given itself the task of attracting attention to the logo in the most unusual places. You must imagine that here they have - totally unnoticed by all security forces and ticket offices - taken down a huge billboard of almost three and a half meters, installed their own billboard and carried ours away. Even the members of the NGBK work group admitted that they had not noticed the intervention at first. Of course this daring action of the sprayer scene was discussed as an outstanding event. The artist, though, was angry. We lodged a complaint and I immediately announced that the moment we got the work back the complaint would be withdrawn. After all, an artwork had been stolen - the billboard itself was worth 6,000 to 7,000 euros in materials. In the meantime, the discussion on the internet over – this scene moves fast. But we did receive an anonymous mail saying that the intervention was carried out because Langhelle's work was disapproved of: 'CBS' is of the opinion that this work only amplifies common advertising mechanisms instead of dealing critically with marketing strategies. They therefore applied their own logo as a protest. But meanwhile 'CBS' had taken down their logo - again completely unnoticed – and put Langhelle's 'ddr' work on the facade of Kaufhof on Alexanderplatz. Naturally Kaufhof called to say that this logo was hanging on their facade and that they would take it down again. We withdrew the complaint, but also gave a comment on the statement of 'CBS': 'CBS' is of the opinion that this art project in the public space has gone too far. This is definitely a statement to be taken seriously, even if I personally think that their argument is a bit antiquated.



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