Is the Palace back?

     |    Wednesday, der 9. December 2009

Anyone taking a stroll along Unter den Linden toward Alexanderplatz might be in for some confusing double takes. Is that the old Palace of the Republic reflecting in the facade of the Temporary Art Hall? How can that be!?

Puzzle solved: it’s an illusion created by Bettina Pousttchi’s photo installation titled Echo.

Echo, isn’t an exact reconstruction of socialist East Germany’s former pride and joy; its a large black and white photograph created from 970 poster-sized images. The piece, which is based on archival photographs, depicts the historical facade reduced to its essential structural components. The desired visual confusion was achieved by image processing and the addition of other elements. Digitally generated lines are reminiscent of a surveillance camera or perhaps an early television look, or a furtive view through the slats of a lowered blind . The piece is a comment on individual memory and the suggestive role of photography. The simulation of historical architecture in Echo is a direct reference to the changes that have taken place in the surrounding urban landscape.”

(Source: www.kunsthalle-berlin.com)

Nice Detail: The national DDR coat of arms is reborn in Echo as a clock. But what about the piece as a whole? It misses the point and is a bit too wishy-washy.  Can an artwork that uses the same devices (reproductions of the facade on vinyl) as those who demolished the palace so that the old city castle could be rebuilt provoke interest in the important debate about dealing with the past and visions for the future, or about (the lack of) opportunities for public participation in urban planning? Is Echo just another scenic backdrop for the reunification celebrations? Perhaps Echo does have a place in the debate if it causes such questions to be asked.