janet grau

Pflege: Zwischen Zwangshandlung und kultureller Heldentat

Pflege: Zwischen Zwangshandlung und kultureller Heldentat

Staged photography, video, performance and installation, 2004

Witnessing the 100-year flood in Dresden (August 2002) inspired me to create Pflege: Zwischen Zwangshandlung und kultureller Heldentat (Caring: Between Compulsive Act and Cultural Heroism).

When the depots of Dresden’s museums were threatened and finally flooded, curators and tireless helpers carried Saxony’s treasures up to the exhibition halls. The unforgettable images of this heroic effort, widely circulated in the media, were followed by countless portrayals of people engaged in the care of ‘cultural heritage’ as well as other (also much more banal) objects. I was interested in the staging of these ‘caring behaviors’ for the camera: the gaze, the gestures, the posture taken.

I assembled an extensive collection of such photographs from the newspaper (which formed the basis for this work) and, in collaboration with six young students from the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, developed a series of staged events based on this material. The resulting photographs and the making-of video footage were combined with additional images, objects, and film/video works to create a nearly 500-square-meter installation in the Motorenhalle. Projektzentrum für zeitgenössische Kunst, Dresden.

Over the course of the ten-day exhibition, we continually transformed the space and further defined it through our daily ‘caring activities’ (performances). Many visitors to the exhibition took advantage of the opportunity to actively participate in the process.

The various elements of the exhibition playfully referenced and related to each other. The correlation between ‘caring’ and performative demonstrations of identity, as well as the obsessive nature of such pursuits, became tangible.

"What depots mean to our society is the same as what our basements, attics, closets, what the space under our beds, in the back of our garages, on top of the wardrobe, what all our drawers and boxes, the very pockets in our coats and jackets mean to each of us individually.

We are all secret custodians and directors of depots."

Read essays from the catalogue:

Main contributors:

  • Angela Böhme (staged photo)
  • Annett Gerlach (staged photo, installation, performance)
  • Katja Hoffmann Wildner (films, staged photos, installation, performance)
  • Anna Krebs (staged photo, installation, performance)
  • Franziska Scherner (films, staged photo, installation, performance)
  • Kristina Tost (films, staged photo, installation, performance)

Many thanks to all who participated in this project, including those who helped us stage the scenes, those who lent us objects and equipment, and those who let us use their spaces.

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