« The Stasi was an internal police force that allowed the government to stay in power. It’s role was to know everything about everyone using every available means. They knew who you had visited, who you called, and if your wife was cheating on you. It was a bureaucratic metastases in East German society. Openly or secretly, certain indicators alerted the Stasi about their fellow citizens in every school, every factory, every residential building and in all the cafes. »
Anna Funder « Stasiland »
The department called « Research and Development of Spying Technologies » of the Stasi is today, 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a complex of buildings occupied by artist’s studios. This complex is situated across from the old Stasi prison, today a museum that serves as a memorial to the injustices wrought by the Stasi.
Fascinated by the site’s history, its labyrinthine architecture and dark ambience, I rented a studio and set up my photography practice inside one of the buildings. For over 2 years I filmed the surroundings and its occupants. Each door opens into a creative universe belonging to an artist. The hallways evoke a haunted past. The art created here is a way of exorcising the evil that existed here between 1950 and 1989. The film « Ex-Stasi » shows images of this haunted building and the spaces within , as they exist now.
The series of photographs of the building serves as a documentation of the remnants left by the secret police as they fled. This is a precious documentation of the site, as in only one short year it underwent extensive renovations. The majority of the machines and objects that were originally in this space no longer exist. These photographs serve as witness to the infrastructure of industrial spying technology before the digital era. (Photographs)
The subject of espionage is still a very relevant one with the current debate raging relating to digital espionage in social media, the NSA and its practices, video surveillance, digital tracking and data mining. The Internet is the perfect technological platform for espionage on a grand scale. The end of the Stasi brought about a new sort of « police state » that is both global and invisible.
Direction and image: Marjorie Brunet Plaza
Artists (in order of appearance): Ronald Wozniak, Miriam Lenk, Gariste&Gatené, Gabriel Anastassios, Caroline Gutlé, Madeline Stillwell
Sound: Marjorie Brunet Plaza, Timothée Demoury
Music: Timothée Demoury
Kalimba: Caroline Gutlé
Editing: Marjorie Brunet Plaza
This video installation was conceived for an exhibition held in the former Stasi complex in a zone that was at the time sequestered and under continual surveillance. A place where the state interrogated and imprisoned its enemies where agents orchestrated phone taps and used machines made to open and reseal mail of the citizens of the GDR undetected. Over 90,000 letters were put under such scrutiny every day.
The video installation is comprised of a surveillance screen showing 4 hallways one of which is the entryway to the exhibition space. After having passed under the surveillance camera placed in the entryway, the screen broadcasting the images captured by the surveillance cameras invites the spectator to contemplate these images: in essence to spy on oneself and others and point out those acts which do not fall into the category of « normal behavior » in an installation that reveals itself to be a representation of the spy caught in the act of spying.
Paying closer attention one begins to absolve certain unanticipated scenes. A red compass at the center of the screen points excitedly towards the appearance of unconventional and suspect behavior. In essence, the characters from The Shining are invited to the exhibition by the ghosts of the Stasi.
This video installation mixes live images with prerecorded footage from the surveillance camera. This is an interactive installation that creates a parallel universe of a horror film, in this case The Shining, in the ghostly haunted Stasi headquarters.
In my photographic work “Abandonment” I wanted to capture falling asleep, that moment when consciousness leaves the body. The sleeper seems to breathe his last breath.
In the video “Somnambulist” one hour of sleep has been accelerated to seven minutes, where we see micro movements: a breathing machine that keeps inhaling and exhaling air. We also see the eyes moving behind the eyelids. The conscious activity seems to be far away in another dimension that is the dream. Perceiving outside of the material. And then forgetting.