My photos are glimpses, sometimes at things that don't seem interesting in first place. The theme that is underlying all of them is Belonging, or—in a larger sense—the themes of identity, roots, and what home really is. My East German experience is that the place where I grew up disappeared, and together with it most of its signs as well as its cultural heritage, for example its typefaces, its design, its architecture. The place were I grew up dissolved, or rather was dissolved—and slowly replaced by a mainstream culture, its speak, and its capital, leaving no space for experiments. The uniformization of space through capital which took place after 1989 in the former East (think: creation of shopping zones, architecture of shopping centers, standardized streets and curbs, colors of houses, etc.) the recurring feeling of an inner homelessness (Heimatlosigkeit) and disconnection from the past. Connection, on the contrary, creates belonging, and vice versa. And belonging is different from fitting in.
Belonging means to have a space in which we can be ourselves and where the self can be shown—and seen. Belonging means to have a voice, not only to be the subject of a discussion. Belonging means to accept one's past, instead of hiding it, or making it disappear. Yet, this is exactly what happened in the German East after 1989. The Berlin castle is just one famous, but certainly not the only example symbolic for this politics. The castle's rebuilding is both denying the fact that the GDR existed—the castle replaces in fact the East German parlament building Palast der Republik—as it denies the guilt of the second world war at the same time: the original castle, which was standing at this spot before the Palast which had replaced it in a similar fashion of appropriation, had been largely destroyed by allied bombs. Yet, the rebuilt castle now stands there, as good as new, as if the Third Reich, which was the very reason for the division of Germany in two states, and that same division as an answer to the Third Reich, never happened. The castle hosts the Humboldt Forum, which itself is hosting colonialist acquisitions of art. Great care is being taken by politics to reframe this historization and represent it as the reconstruction of a "continuity" that was merely disrupted by the GDR. I believe that we cannot deal with history in that way: we need to acknowledge that the world is not streamlined, and that memory sometimes hurts.
I like this quote of J.G. v. Herder: Heimat ist da, wo ich mich nicht erklären muss.—Home is where I don't have to explain myself.
Upon request, I can provide high resolution files for most images. You can contact me at rike [AT] curlybracket.org.