2006, video, colour/sound, 31 min.
Written and directed by Dora García
Original language: German
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, and Dutch
The encounter in a Leipzig apartment between a Stasi officer and a civilian informant is the chosen setting for Zimmer, Gespräche (‘Rooms, conversations’). The Stasi was the all-powerful East-German political police until the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. However, neither the Stasi nor the city of Leipzig are ever mentioned explicitly. The video is thus set in an undetermined time and space, only discernible through the accent of the actors, the clothes they wear, the furniture and the architectural backdrop. Constructing a realist scene or reconstructing a historical situation is not Dora García’s intention, and Rooms, conversations is neither a documentary nor a documentary fiction. What García seeks is to use the parameters of a given historical situation in order to communicate abstract notions such as fear, control, authority, dependency, obedience, absurdity, and power. All notions that are closely connected to issues of secrecy, archiving, the community, or the codes of human behaviour: recurring themes in the work of the Spanish artist.
The video was shot in the spring of 2006 in one of the most representative social housing projects of the 80’s in Leipzig, the Grünau neighbourhood. The script is based on the research the artist carried out for over a year on the photo, video and audio archives of the Stasi in the Leipzig and Berlin headquarters, now managed by the BStU (http://www.bstu.bund.de).
East Germany was and still is the epitome of the Cold War country, the iron curtain, the other side, the fractalization of repression and surveillance… but it is as well a country that has ceased to exist, and its rushed disappearance caused a deep melancholy and malaise among its ancient inhabitants. The situation narrated in the video “Rooms, conversations” is full of this melancholy, definitely not nostalgia, but melancholy; it recreates the extremely complex codes of behaviour of this sort of encounters, the very particular ways of speaking and telling, so absurdly multi-significant and cryptic at the same time; in this sense, the characters in the fiction are as much actors as the actors who play them.
Exhibition: 20/01/07 - 24/02/07
Ellen de Bruijne PROJECTS
1016 LZ Amsterdam