News / Arts & Entertainment

Guardhouse Becomes Tiny Venue for Cold War Art Project

A woman looks at an installation of keys, used in Stasi police barracks, by Sonya Schoenberger, that is installed inside Christoph Zwiener's exhibition project
A woman looks at an installation of keys, used in Stasi police barracks, by Sonya Schoenberger, that is installed inside Christoph Zwiener's exhibition project "ADN Guard House" in Berlin, July 11, 2014.
Reuters

A German artist has turned a tiny surveillance booth used by the communist regime in the former East Germany to monitor citizens into an art exhibit and venue, which will be installed in a museum near Los Angeles dedicated to the Cold War.

The one-person guardhouse measuring two meters by one meter was originally located in the parking lot of state-run news agency ADN so that authorities could keep a watchful eye on reporters. Artist Christof Zwiener rescued it from demolition.

Guardhouses were an integral part of state surveillance in East Germany (GDR), stationed not only at borders but in places where they could monitor ordinary people going about their daily lives.

“The guard, he or she, controlled the people coming in or out but on the other hand, the people going in also watched him,” said Zwiener. “There are a lot of forgotten things in East Berlin still, but nobody cares about them anymore.”

Berlin tourist attractions on the GDR theme include Checkpoint Charlie and the Stasi Museum and DDR Museum, both of which focus on the Stasi's sinister surveillance apparatus.

Ten artists have showcased their work in the closet-sized booth, many focusing on surveillance which is a sensitive issue in Germany because of the way the Gestapo and Stasi spied on citizens in the Nazi and communist eras.

The project has coincided with revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency spied on citizens and institutions in Germany, including Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.

The exhibit by Berlin-based artist Sonya Schoenberger, which ends this month, consists of thousands of keys once used in Stasi police barracks, hanging from a vertical metal rod.

A man looks at an installation of keys, used in Stasi police barracks, by Sonya Schoenberger, that is installed inside Christoph Zwiener's exhibition project
A man looks at an installation of keys, used in Stasi police barracks, by Sonya Schoenberger, that is installed inside Christoph Zwiener's exhibition project "ADN Guard House" in Berlin, July 11, 2014.

“Berlin is of course a vivid place for this, memories that are found in public spaces and that carry a lot of weight for people,” said Schoenberger, adding Zwiener had found a way to make such meaningful, shared memories “visible again”.

The booth will travel 6,000 miles (9,600 km) by ship to go on show from Sept. 26 in four locations around Los Angeles including the corner of a busy intersection, before going to its permanent home at the Wende Museum for the 25th anniversary of German reunification in November.

“The guardhouse is about parking lots and media and LA is about two things: parking lots and media,” said Justinian Jampol, founder of the museum dedicated to the “Wende” - German for the end of the Cold War after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

The museum in Culver City houses Cold War artifacts from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union and will move to a new location, in a former armory, on Nov. 8.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings: Nnekai
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
August 26, 2015 2:42 PM
Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.

Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.