KARINA SMIGLA-BOBINSKI > Videoinstallation at Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz

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Videoinstallation in Statetheatre at the Gärtnerplatz for 850-year anniversary of Munich > by Hanne Weskott

Beatriz von Eidlitz and Karina Smigla-Bobinski chose the Statetheatre at the Gärtnerplatz (Gardensquare) as the location for their viedeo-installation. Both artists with multinational roots were appealed by the Motto set by the city: „building bridges“. They understood this as bridges between locals and immigrants, between reality and imagination, fact and dreams.

The place - There are places in munich, too, which are suitable for dreaming. A Theatre has always been the ideal surrounding for this. Especially a theatre that is situated at a Gardensquare. Although this square was named after the architect Friedrich von Gärtner (1791-1847), it was the first place where gardening was the focus, after the medieval fortification was pulled down. It was not intended as a representation of power but as an enhancement of a new quarter, for the recreation of the locals and therefore it was supposed to attract investors. The original background of the name was almost forgotten.

The Theatre - The theatre, being the first to be accessible to the ordinary people of munich, belongs to this little paradise. The other theatres in munich were royal and therefore unaccessible for the people. That changed with it‘s construction in 1864/65 as a munich share-investment-theatre after the designes by F.M. Reifenstuel. It was dedicatded to the lighter muse and therefore mainly operetta were staged in the beginning. The wish of paradise could be partly fullfiled in the few hours of performance.

The video installation "Paradise" placed in entrance foyer shows films on the round windows over the doors. In these films people of various religions, cultures from all over the world explain their idea of Paradise. Three questions were asked:

What do you know about paradise?
What is the paradise for you?
Where is it?

The persons were supposed to answer spontaneously, without dwelling on. Between the individual interviews, are shown photos and small movie clips from Beatrice of Eidlitz. They show people who photograph each other in front of a large yellow lily field in the Parque Guell in Barcelona.

The Park and the self - The word 'Paradise' originates from the persian word 'enclosure'. It was further modulated in it's meaning by the greeks to 'park, zoological garden', so it can be translated into a 'fenced garden' where humans live free from fear and worries. The biblical 'Fall of Man' is from a psychological point of view equal to a recognition of the personal self. The consciousness of having a will was the cause of expulsion from Eden. The expulsion is final and irreversible, even when the wish for it stays life long. It becomes an Utopia.

Paradise as personal happieness - says the theory. In practice the ideas of paradise look like a bit more terrestial and much less utopical. Many of the persons interwieved by Karina Smigla-Bobinski, believe they found paradise and not necessarily very afar, in spite of the fact, that they themselves, do not have the reason to suppose to live in paradise. The longer one listens to the interviews the more an impression appears that the picture of paradise is very strongly bound on Here and Now. Thereby certain resemblances appear despite the different religions. Paradise means for many of them their home, the family, the profession. It can also be a spiritual place, the childhood's garden, that one visits to fill up forces. Or, for example a house in Gaza Strip, not existing any more, only a key left, kept like a relic. It is often a home town, many associate it with a sea, sun and palm trees. They yearn for places where the poors of the world eke out their miserable existence. But this accurs in their dreams just as little as the high cost of living in the own town.

This video- installation can be seen until late evening, the second video- installation "Aquarium" in the upper theatre foyer is visible only by night, when films of swimming goldfish are being projected onto the three big windows. The windows become some kind of shop window, a display, the room is transformed into a big aquarium. For the passers-by a mute and free Show is being performed.

The Goldfish as a lucky charm - In China goldfish are regarded as the flowers of domesticated animals. Legend says, they were living in heaven once, but while playing behind the clouds, they fell from the edge, out of shere carlessness onto earth. In reality the are the first aquarium fish to be bred for the sole purpose of pleasing mankind. They are regarded as lucky charms, the long life expectancy and their golden shimmer symbolizing wealth and abundance.
Moreover: the fish under the water surface plays about the transition from visible to invisible, from conscious to unconscious, from mystery and discovery. That is why they attract our looks magnetically.

© Hanne Weskott, München, 2008

Translation: Saskia Bobinski