The Stasi’s attempted total surveillance is perceived as an Orwellian crime against the privacy of the individual. Why then does the NSA, five eyes and current surveillance technology not mobilize the same horror? In this project, historical outrage is interpolated into the present by revisiting the Stasi archives and activities, their thorough documentation and the perversity of their intrusion’s reach. What system do we want to govern humanity in the future and what should be the relationship between information and intimacy, trust and transparency?
This performance and publication project enacts a partial translation, which refers to a mode of diplomatic simultaneous translation in which the translator is the medium of communication between two states. The inevitable slippages in between languages that occur in translation are intensified in the partial translation experiment. Excerpts of the original German form the basis of translation into English that narrates Australia’s engagement with the GDR through the perspectives of Jimmy the Stasi informant, the archives of the Australian ambassadors and the Stasi’s surveillance campaign on them and their most intimate private lives. The building itself mediates the economic, aesthetic, ideological, political, diplomatic interests and is represented through photography taken secretly by the Stasi. The building is the main protagonist in the performance, with a life that spans from the 1970s to the present. From the move to recognition of the GDR through international embassies, to the immanent gentrification of the building in Berlin in the late twenty-teens. This project is the outcome of a decade long research project by historian and artist, focussing in this iteration on Australia’s presence in this political arena. The book includes previously unpublished Stasi archives and recently declassified documents from the national archives in Canberra. Their tone and aesthetic tell a particular story of Australia’s multifaceted engagement with issues of women’s rights, international trade, surveillance, also on indigenous rights protest movements, socialist state building and supportive opinions of the socialist states.
Press Review in Berliner Morgenpost
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