Acrylic on wallpaper, 350 x 400 cm
Located on Auguststrasse 17 D-10117
Berlin Auguststrasse, also known as Art-Mile, is one of the most popular streets in Berlin for its fashionable Berlin art scene. It is host to well known art galleries and museums, such as KW-Institut, the center of Berlin Biennale and Me-Collectors Room of Thomas Olbricht. Centuries ago it was called Armen Gasse, which translates to “Poor Alley”. In mid 18th Century Friedrich Wilhelm I ordered Jewish families to move to the area. It later became known as the Jewish Ghetto. This is the reason for the strong Jewish influence that still exists until now, such as the Synagogue, Jewish Cafés, and former Jewish girl school. These buildings are under constant protection by the police against the possibility of anti-semitic attacks.
On one day in 2010, I broke into an abandoned building on this very street. Upon exploring the ruin, I found an empty room decorated with old-fashioned wallpaper, still somewhat intact and relatively untouched. With the strange mix of dominant red, white and grey, it almost seemed as if the white stripes are barricaded from the outside, from the ruins of the apartment and from what lays beyond the wall. As if one can only catch a glimpse of the grim history of the street through the Stolpersteine, or stumbling blocks, which are metal blocks with the names of Jewish residents in each buildings engraved in them. Completely taken in by the atmosphere of this fascinating wallpaper, I was inspired to create an art piece in the room.
The final work is called GEIST, which means spirit or ghost in German. It is a painting on the wall, or rather camouflaged or buried in the wallpaper, of two guards (unexplained if they are soldiers or police officers) patrolling between the red stripes. The stripes could be associated with fences, but could also with dense forest. There is a sense of freedom of interpretation for the viewer.
Along with the historical significance, there is also a twist regarding the current state of Auguststrasse as well. This particular piece can only be completed in the room, thus cannot be moved to another place and sold. The photograph is the only way to capture and transfer the essence of the work, just as Stolperstein can capture the name of people who were once there.
Jeewi Lee is an artist based in Seoul and Berlin. She graduated from Universität der Künste with Fine Art and completed her Meisterschueler degree. She is currently doing her MA in post-graduated study called “Art in Context”. In 2012/13 she also visited Hunter College NYC. Jeewi Lee works with different mediums such as painting, video, installation, and happening. Her works are thematically focused on social phenomenon, and visual perceptions. Representative motifs in her works are various and camouflage patterns. Her art pieces have been exhibited in group-shows in various cities and two solo-shows “Spurenlauschen” and “Abrieb” in Berlin in the past years.