The point of departure for these works is facades that still contain traces of the Second World War in the form of bullet holes. Asta Gröting replicates the damaged walls in sculpture by making silicone impressions of them. These function like long exposures that depict the story from the moment of the bullets’ impact to the present time. Dust, dirt, and even graffiti are applied to the material and give these negative imprints, some of which are monumental in scale, an almost painted effect.
The bullet holes protrude from the heavy silicone skin like scars of history. The silicone reconstructs wounds as architectural traces and translates them into abstract pictures. “I want to look out into the world from these de-stroyed walls and facades as if I could look into my own face,” says Gröting. These works create an awareness of the fact that we are living in the ruins of history. Bullet holes function as a reminder and a link to an individu-al and collective history that can never be smoothed over.
The body of work was exhibited at The KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art in an exhibition curated by Andreas Fiedler.
What prompted the project Berlin Fassaden?
The contemporary strategy of Berlin whereby the old, damaged facades are replaced by slick, meaningless surfaces.
What questions does the project raise? which does it address?
The literal and metaphorical displacement created through the removal and sanitization of the damaged facades. And the trauma that remains after every war.
What is the ultimate objective of the work?
To see the beauty of a damaged facade. To imagine oneself viewing the world as if from within the facade itself. You are looking outward from inside. Standing in front of the negative impressions of the facade, your gaze is directed from inside the wall to the outside, to the world. I wanted to rediscover the hidden objects of the past and to bring them to the surface.
How does the project situate itself within your artistic practice?
In almost all my works, sculptures and videos, I have turned the inside out and brought it to the surface.
The sculptures are often referred to as slow-exposure photographs, could you expand on this idea?
The negatives of the facades work like a single long exposure photograph, from the moment the bullet impacted the facade in April 1945 until the moment the silicone was applied in the summer of 2017. When the silicon is applied to the facade, it stickiness captures everything. The graffiti, the dirt, the dust, the plaster. Everything is conserved to last detail. The bullet holes are inverted and protrude out towards the viewer.
In the age of urban renewal - how and to what extent can the project be considered as an act of preservation?
I imagine a forward-thinking utopian city which allows itself a conversation with the past. Memory is not a single moment but rather a recurrence which occurs again and again. The objects of the past want to be rediscovered continuously and brought to the surface.
I have been walking the streets of Berlin since the 1990s. I see the bullet holes and imagine what happened in 1945. How were the bullet holes caused? And what does this mean psychologically until today?ì
How did you research the urban fabric of Berlin and define the sites for the intervention?
What role does the publication hold in revealing the project and the preservation of this history?
I don’t want to talk about history. That’s boring. Besides, there is more than one story. It’s the traces of history which are of interest, how these traces speak to us and what sort of conversation this creates. Traces of the past are brought to the light, and our emotional and political relationships to them. To feel and see these traces, that’s what interests me. To see the past and to start from this point with a new awareness for the future.
Where do you see the project developing?
It is finished. The more of the facades that disappear from the cityscape, the more they represent the disappearing and the literally pushed away.