Just a few months after the last remnants of the Palast der Republik (Palace of the Republic) were removed, visitors of Schlossplatz can now experience a feeling of déjà vu. Berlin-based artist Bettina Pousttchi’s (*1971) photo installation Echo covers the entire façade of the Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin, evoking memories of the just recently demolished building.
The Palace of the Republic served primarily as the seat of the East German parliament, the Volkskammer, but it also housed two large auditoria, art galleries, a theatre, restaurants and a bowling alley. The building was constructed in 1973 at the site of the former Hohenzollern palace (Stadtschloß), and has now been completely deconstructed to make room for a planned Stadtschloß reconstruction.*
As Bettina Pousttchi points out in this video, Echo is not a true-to-scale or true-to-life reconstruction of this magnificent socialist building. “The motif for the circumferential black-and-white photograph is comprised of 970 individual posters. The depiction, which reduces the historical façade to its essential structural components, is based on archival pictures. By means of image processing and further elements, the artist creates a number of disturbing moments. Digitally generated lines are reminiscent of CCTV cameras or early TV images – or of a furtive view through the slats of a lowered blind. With this mise-en-scène, Pousttchi reflects on the individual’s ability to remember and also on the suggestive qualities of the medium of photography. As an allegedly simulated historical architecture, Echo directly references the changes in the surrounding urban landscape.” (Excerpt from the press release). The installation is on view until February 28, 2010.
Bettina Pousttchi: Echo. Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin. September 24, 2009. Video: Gürsoy Dogtas.
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