In September 2010, works by Israeli photographer Dana Ariel and German photographer Cathleen Falckenhayn were shown in the exhibition Schutzräume at galerie 61 in Bielefeld.
Dana Ariel photographs boundary stones of the former border between East- and West-Germany in her series Border. Often the stones are not at the center of the photographs, but are recognized only at second glance. The walking trail along the boundary stones, situated in a sometimes misty forest, becomes a space in between. Cathleen Falckenhayn deals with air-raid shelters in Israel in her new series of photographs. These rooms are lockable secure spaces within buildings which primarily serve to protect the civil population. They are often used as additional “ordinary” living space.
Bringing together these two positions raises questions concerning character and development of spaces. The border between East- and West-Germany was first of all a geographical manifestation of separation and confrontation. At the same time in this military area a habitat for plants and animals could develop, since the area was protected from human interventions. The air-raid shelters in Israel are subject to a process of transformation as well: designed as areas of civil defense
during war, today they are often used as recreation rooms, for sports, music or the like. In this line of thought the exhibition focused on ambivalent spaces that refuse to be categorized unambiguously.
Furthermore, the exhibition stimulated thinking outside the box about German and Israeli history. It showed that often reality is more complex than initially realized. The picture of a walking trail shows more than an idyllic forest and there is a hidden history of conflict and quarrel behind an inconspicuous training room. In the case of the border between East- and West-Germany the investigated space is signified by an eventful past, in the case of the Israeli air-raid shelters it exists in the context of a complex present. The photographs present spaces void of humans, but at the same time traces of humans are visible everywhere. This enabled the audience to project own stories and thoughts into the spaces, to imagine who might walk on the trail or whether one would really feel safe in such an air-raid shelter.
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Video clip about the exhibition