Once was now (2019)

Einst war jetzt / Once was now

This work is currently emerging within the context of a project scholarship at the DA Kunsthaus Kloster Gravenhorst, Germany. People from the villages of Riesenbeck and Bevergern describe their memories of semi-public spaces to us: shops, schools, taverns, etc. The reports are protocolled mostly at our interviewees’ homes; additional information is sometimes added after telephone calls. Based on these reports, we make drawings and miniature models. The work is concerned with alternatives to the common –verbal – documentation of memories. However, it also focuses on notions of documentation in relation to memory itself: Considering the faultiness of memory, its reduction to verbal language and the re-visualisation (by an interpreting person) – are the resulting artefacts documents or rather reifications of imagined memories?

The two models are still works in progress; a third one is to follow. The toilets of Riesenbeck elementary school in the 1940s and 50s were described to us as particularly disgusting by two former pupils. The night nurses’ room of the St. Elisabeth hospital during the 1960s was detailed by a former nurse.

Remembering the first day of his apprenticeship in 1956, a former employee of the Niemeyer engineering works delineated the company’s registry.

Neuhaus’ Mill, described by the wife of a former employee who lived on the premises with her family in the 1950s. The drawings show the first floor of the mill with the millstone. As the lady was unable to remember where the entrance to the room was, it is absent from the depiction.

Leugers’ Inn existed from 1736 to 1967. The drawings show a small side room of the inn’s public room; described by the wife of the last landlord.

Classroom of the „i-Männchen“ (a local expression for children just starting school; literally: „little i-men“, used for girls here, however) and that of the older girls of Riesenbeck’s elementary school in the early 1940s; reconstructed following the account of two former pupils.

Kerkhoff’s bakery in the 1970s; rendered according to the description of the owner.

Three other reconstructions: An “Upkammer”, literally: “up-chamber” (a small room typical for the living area of farm houses in northwestern Germany that is slightly elevated in relation to the other rooms having a semi-subterranean basement underneath); shelves with decorative vessels and the service hatch of the old Linden pharmacy in Riesenbeck; the window of St. Elisabeth hospital’s operating suite that also functioned as the delivery room.

The grocery “Paula Lütkemeyer” (closed 1992) in Bevergern was delineated by its last owner and her sister. We interviewed the two ladies in the former shop that is now their living-room. The faint photos in the background of the drawings were taken at our visit.

We would like to thank the DA Kunsthaus Kloster Gravenhorst for commissioning this project; Dr. Klaus Werner Kahl (Riesenbeck club devoted to the maintenance of local / regional traditions and characteristics) and Marco Greßler (St. Elisabeth care home Riesenbeck) for faciliating contacts, as well as Konrad Bertels, Ursula Book, Marianne Echelmeyer, Ria Kerkhoff, Monika Leugers, Maria and Cäcilia Lütkemeyer, Elly Oechtering, Doris Oelgeklaus, Antonia Varelmann and Reinhild Varnskühler for sharing their memories with us!