Clearances. Reading by Manuela Koelke and screening of Harun Farocki’s The Leading Role (1994).
Presented at TIER The Institute of Endotic Research, Wednesday, October 23, 2019 as part of Objects Before and After the Wall, Part 3.
“For the third part of Objects Before and After the Wall at TIER, a collaboration with Tlaxcala 3 in Mexico City, Manuela Koelke will investigate her experiences of East Berlin, and we will screen Harun Farocki’s film The Leading Role (1994). Both works reflect on the role subjective experiences and conflicting media narratives play in the capture, remembrance and re-writing of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In her reading, Manuela Koelke revisits her childhood experience of growing up in East Berlin before and after the fall of the wall in November 1989, which brought about a sudden change of appearances, people disappearing, the economy crumbling, ideologies shifting, socialized land and goods being privatized, and new commodities flooding the East. But what really changed, from whose perspective? How do the subjective micro-stories of those who lived through these events relate to the state-sanctioned and media-driven narrative, then as now? How is the conflict between personal and collective affectedness to be understood, considering walls both within and outside? This foray into memories will question the value of being persuaded by any one perspective, whether personal or collective, and instead emphasize the need to make up one’s own mind, not to uncritically believe what the media claims to be true, and to find one’s own answers by relating to motivations other than one’s own.
Five years after the fall of the wall, Harun Farocki’s film The Leading Role (1994) delivers a montage film of media footage, produced by East and West German television crews at that time trying, for days on end, to get an emblematic image which would crystallize the event. In the attempt to define this ‘absent image’, “[…] this material shows the extent to which the collective conscience was affected by the event, as well as all the efforts made to repress the trauma” (Harun Farocki).”
The publication Objects Before and After the Wall was launched in an online conversation on Wednesday, June 10, 7pm together with the editors Benjamin Busch and Lorenzo Sandoval, and the contributors Tlaxcala3 (Ali Cotero and Clara Bolivar), Rodolfo Andaur, Eli Cortiñas, Manuela Koelke and Sung Tieu.
Objects Before and After the Wall unfurls from our synonymous collaboration with Tlaxcala 3. Over the course of 2019, and culminating on November 9th at the 2nd International Encounter of Objects and Walls, TIER and Tlaxcala 3 hosted a trans-Atlantic exchange that was realized through a public program of screenings, workshops, readings and conversations. In Mexico City, special attention was paid to the development of border walls in Latin America and their ensuing conflicts and contradictions. In Berlin, certain attention was given to the role of the Berlin Wall as a historical site of ideological confrontation, as well as its continued presence as a contemporary media avatar. The publication Objects Before and After the Wall assembles contributions in a variety of formats—five selected by Tlaxcala 3 in Mexico City and five selected by The Institute for Endotic Research in Berlin—alongside responses by the organizers, Tlaxcala 3 (Ali Cotero and Clara Bolivar) and TIER (Benjamin Busch and Lorenzo Sandoval). The publication will be available as a free PDF download on the TIER website from June 10, and printed copies will be for sale at our space in Berlin.
Contributions by: Rodolfo Andaur, Clara Bolívar, Diana Buitrón, Benjamin Busch, Eli Cortiñas, Alí Cotero, Marisol García Walls, Francisco González Castro, Manuela Koelke, Daniela Medina Poch, Alberto Pacheco Benites, Lorenzo Sandoval, Hito Steyerl, and Sung Tieu with text by Karen Fiss.
Thanks to Ben Bush and Lorenzo Sandoval for inviting me and providing the space for this timely reading and screening.