21.06.06 – 05.07.06

On 3 October 1990, Germany formally reunified, the five re-established federal states of East Germany – Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia – becoming incorporated into the Federal Republic of Germany. At midnight, tens of thousands of people flooded around the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to express their jubilation. Within a couple of weeks the face of the country had changed drastically. Germany was exhilarated and the media were singing the praise of the Deutsche Einheit.

In her Newspaper project, Sarah Ortmeyer explores the coverage of this historical moment in the newspapers of the old WWII allies. How was this major event perceived in Britain, the US, France and Russia, those countries present in Berlin at the end of the conflict? How did the former enemies cope with the idea of a reunified Germany? How important was this massive change at the core of German life to those elsewhere? One could easily find a ready-made answer in the specialised literature. But for this work, Ortmeyer investigates history’s interstices. In this series, pages from the 3 October 1990 editions of The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde and Pravda have their textual content cleared, and are left only with a random gathering of grainy pictures. Emptied of words, the pages become absurd collages overflowing with an ungraspable sense of nostalgia. The hierarchy of information is smashed down, leaving a twisted portrait of the national concerns at the time. State and trivial matters intertwine; day-to-day life reclaims its place within the gaps of History. For the London version of this project, the artist confronts the issues of The Times and The Guardian, tracking visual hints of the two newspapers’ political discrepancies.

The Newspaper project acts as the negative of Vogue–Playboy–MickeyMouse. In this work, the full text of three magazines from Germany, France and US – magazines for women, children, and men – is extracted and printed on white paper bound in the original publication’s size, separated from the accompanying images. Issues were selected according to key dates for each country: May 1968 for France, October 1977 for Germany and September 2001 for the US. Yet very little of the political difficulties of the time is apparent in these pages. Instead they dutifully reinforce social roles, comforting each component of society, seemingly remote from any political reality. Sarah Ortmeyer puts the magazines’ guts on display. She analyzes the evocative power of writing, playing with the discrepancy between an erotic dialogue and the cold aesthetic of the print, an aesthetic reminiscent of Art and Language. By tearing apart the essential components of illustrated press, she questions the relationship between text and image, representation and reality.

Owing to its fragility Vogue–Playboy–MickeyMouse is only available for viewing upon request.

The exhibition is open every Wednesday between 21.06.06 and 05.07.06 from 8 p.m to 11 p.m and by appointment.