Ex-Stasi Land or Espionage before Internet


    « 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. (short film)

    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.

    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.