The photo wall-collage installation Story Tales on the one hand conjures the present leap in time of 25 years and on the other the process of submerging into memories, as the difference of the contexts, which charge the photographic material, are put to debate.
Tina Bara searches for her former companions and photographs them in rear view, standing in the water once more after 25 years. Furthermore, she documents the remaining private keepsake photographs of the meeting by the lake in the respective private archives.
Together with a selection of new enlarged prints of the old material, photographic documents of Dora Garcia’s work in the context of art, a variation of the further appropriation of these images and “original” BStU - photographs, as well as a short text, the “new” photographs are composed by Alba D’Urbano in a wall installation which constructs a narrative, metaphorical, and reflective space.
Text for wall:
Covergirl: Wespen-Akte *
In summer 2007 I found a catalogue on the desk of my colleague Alba D’Urbano. Its cover photo had a strongly irritating effect on me. The picture on the cover showed a nude young woman sitting, with a black bar printed across her eyes, and a stamp from the BStU ** providing a caption. That woman was me, 25 years ago. Inside the catalogue there were further photographs of nude women sitting on the edge of a lake.
Alba told me about an interesting, yet contradictorily exhibition by a Spanish artist. It had been concerned with the Ministry for State Security and the GDR, and she had seen it together with her students at the Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig. Much faster than me, as I was still staring at the cover of the exhibition catalogue, she realised this episode as a complex issue, which I had come across in this unusual way. Consequently, we decided to create a work together.
I did some research, and was disappointed by a letter from the BStU that I received in reply to some questions concerning the problematic use of the photographic material. Later the pictures from the catalogue were presented by two galleries at Art Forum Berlin as artworks by the Spanish artist. Some of the persons in the pictures recognised themselves despite the black bar covering their eyes. We decided to re-appropriate the multiply appropriated images, so as to consider the circulation and utilisation of pictures and archival material.
“Wasp Files” was the code name used by the Ministry for State Security to refer to “Frauen für den Frieden” (“Women for Peace”), a group of activists in the GDR in the 1980s that was promoting demilitarisation, disarmament and the education of children to peace. The photographs inside the catalogue show a private meeting of these women in the summer of 1983. Two hobby photographers, Katja Havemann and myself, had documented these moments. Some of these photographs made their way as evidence to the Ministry for State Security following a house search at the home of one of the protagonists.
After having been out of touch with the women portrayed for almost two decades, I now met them again.
Karin Teichert, Ulrike Poppe, Katja Havemann, Rommy Baumann-Sevim, Ruth Leiserowitz, Jutta Seidel, Almut Ilsen, Ute Delor, Anne Voß
We would like to thank Katja Havemann for her agreement to let us use the remaining negatives, as well as all the women involved for providing their photographic material, and also the BStU, which, after an internal debate, once more provided the former evidence for use in an artistic work, this time with the consent of the persons depicted.
* The title literally translates as "Covergirl: The Wasp Files". Akte has a double meaning in German: it designates both archival files and nude images.
** BStU = German acronym used to designate the Office of the Federal Commissioner Preserving the Records of the Ministry for State Security of the former GDR
Photo wall ca. 3 x 15 m:
10 C-prints 80 x 58 cm; 10 C-prints 50 x 60 cm; 8 Baryte prints 47 x 32 cm; 10 Baryte prints 24 x 30 cm; 12 B/W inkjet prints 24 x 30cm; 4 B/W inkjet prints on canvas 34 x 24 cm; 5 inkjet prints 18 x 24 cm; 6 B/W reproductions 14 x 18 cm, DIN A4 text