Domestic Concerns

The project Domestic Concerns began with research into the collapse of the building holding the Histo­ri­sches Archiv der Stadt Köln in 2009. Two thirds of the archival material survived the collapse of the building, however more than thirty kilometers of archival material was inacces­sible after the collapse. Local commu­nities have been highly involved and concerned about the consequences of the collapse.

Indepen­dent groups of artists, archi­tects, authors, committed citizens, and local initia­tives have been making an effort to find ways to transform the former site into a space of collec­tive memory. Though much archival material was destroyed or rendered inacces­sible, the world-famous archive building in the Severin­straße by archi­tect Fritz Hafer­kamp had a special cellar that saved an amount of parti­cular photo material. Together with the fire brigade, the Histo­ri­sches Archiv der Stadt Köln was able to rescue this archival material from the cellar. After an inten­sive corre­spon­dence with the institution, five survi­ving images from the photo cellar were digitised and sent to be used in the project.

“Doppelte Erinnerung an die Katastrophe” (Double memory of the disaster), news cover from the Kölner Stadt‑Anzeiger, 04.03.2013.

Domestic Concerns, installaion, Matjö – Raum für Kunst, Cologne, Germany, 2021, Photo credits: Matjö.

These five images are photo­graphs of a sculp­ture in the Rhein­park, Cologne, titled Huise­lijke Zorgen (Domestic Concerns) by the Dutch artist Rik Wouters. The sculp­ture is a woman figure with crossed arms, head slightly bent forward, thoughtful. The project traces a histo­rical passage of the statue’s inter­me­diate presence in the Rhein­park since 1957 and in the archive. The images survived the 2009 disaster and were rescued and cared for by archi­vists. The material reality of the statue and its image have been inter­woven with an ongoing and layered contem­porary (hi)story.

The installation of histo­rical sequences of the archival image are shaped as a cinema­to­gra­phic concep­tion. An associa­tive movement, in 420x420 cm film frame by 270 moving sequences shots as score, becomes a perfor­mance, gradu­ally connecting and allowing issues of the collapse of collec­tive memories and archival image’s media­tions. The project is an engage­ment in elabo­ra­ting and constel­la­ting images of place and time like a daydream.

Documentation of the moving image sequence for Domestic concerns, 2021.

The separ­ately printed sequen­tial images include three layers of red, blue, and green risographed colours. The layers allow for the recon­struction of time and space in an open duration. The edited sequen­tial images consti­tute a film sequence, and generates the shaken movement of the statue and its surrounding lands­cape.

By trans­fer­ring the archival images into cinematic spaces and into the present time, the images become a perfor­mance of histo­ries and of tangible social memories. What forms of remem­brance are needed in today‘s Cologne after the archive’s collapse? How can we imagine the shape of collec­tive memories together in a process of remem­be­ring, forget­ting, or caring?

Domestic Concerns is a collective project with Dutch Painter Rosa Johanna (Reference: Grid Series). It is a collaboration with the Histo­ri­sches Archiv der Stadt Köln (Historical Archives of the City of Cologne), and is supported by International Art Presentation, Mondriaan Fonds, 2021. The reproduction and publication of this archival material is permitted by the Historische Archiv der Stadt Köln. All materials are protected under copyright by the City of Cologne. The collaboration with the Histo­ri­sches Archiv der Stadt Köln was facilitated by Dr. Elisabeth Tharandt.