It was August 2020 and I had made it to Germany after months of Lockdown in Egypt. Cairo was burning hot as it always does in July & August. I came to Chemnitz to participate in an Art Residency in the framework of the exhibition GEGENWARTEN/PRESENCES. In the past young people used to call the city Charlie-Marx. There was an uncertainty to everything. The rhythm seemed to return and chaotic past echoes kinda together in a Vergangenheit wo die Zukunft besser war.
Phallic statues of bearded boys compose the landscape, germans smoking narguiles and shop signs written in arabic, fish filled ponds and now floating cars (a bicycle was found where they dumped a german car), everything was supposedly calm, vivid and the present brutalist architecture felt like fiction.
We spent hours sitting in front of the studio trying to understand, repeating the words to affirm ourselves towards a vagueness, maybe we just wanted to be together in this strange moment, using our privilege to look at each other.
I see a building with micro windows where hope and censorship was present, just like home somehow…. We are now upwards of 100 thousand deaths and the president celebrates the football league championship of his team.
I listen to someone talking about Fremdheitskonstruktion… something as the construction of “the Other” of the enemy. What was this enemy’s favourite colour ? And his/her/their favourite hobby?
Daniel H. came right after that…his murder and the white washing of his identity… I remembered Brazil, I remembered that all of the heroes were whitened, they must be white and in the event that they were not, the narratives would make to sure construct that… whitewash as they say in english. It sounds like a preset of wash machines from post-DDR time. Are we there yet? Yesterday it took me two hours to make the machine work, to make my clothes white just as they did with you Daniel, ripping you of your identity, silencing your past and that of the communist island, erasing and usage. You are now part of the narrative and you are now going to be changed because of that. The necessity of having a national European connected identity. Whitening the population for the construction of the Fremdheit, structural racism and pain, they made you a martyr from a war that was not yours. You are now white and no longer fremd.
I see some guys dancing Dabka close to Charlie’s big head statue, and on the following day they were playing volleyball with hands and feet. I turn to look at the telephone and there is a message of my friend saying “das ist, wo die ganzen Nazis sind” … I am afraid. My years in violent contexts made me walk with one eye open and a fast pace, pretending hurry at 1am on a drunk Saturday. I am constantly afraid of them… Mohamed from the Syrian shop yells from far Alsalam 3leikum. I respond and we talk a bit. He is Palestinian from Nazareth and probably was forced to leave his house and country twice. One around ‘48 and the other time around 2010. He has his backpack very well packed and has the presence of the insecurity in his look, and I wish I could give him more love.
When he is far I yell back 3ti ka lafi.
1978 - Ahlan Wa Sahlan Asdeqa Suriin (Welcome Syrian friends) - Hafez Al Assad visits the GDR and is received by a big ceremony, the people outside cheering, welcoming the Arab friends, some years before Yasser Arafat also visit East -Germany. To construct a new way, they probably looked at themselves calling each other comrades, making easier to pronounce the names, shaking hands, while speaking about world building and yankee bulling. The GDR was considered anti-fascists and today some of the anti-fascists support Israel and forbid the usage of keffiyeh in their demonstrations, would Arafat understand that ? The extreme leftist supporting the long lasting right wing Israeli government, advocating indirectly for the total erasure of a population during marches of the streets… we watch during this research phase many films and read many texts. I keep watching old fragments of images made in front of the Statue of Karl-Marx, I constantly get transported to another time with 8mm colours and texture, was everyone at the time a professional cinematographer? When will our lives become* 8mm textures.
We come around the Madgermannes and that they were sabotaged. Mozambicans who came to GDR to work in factories in a collaboration between the two countries, after the Mozambican independence around 20 thousand comrades came to this region. After the wall came down they were sent back, separated from their families, without the money they were supposed to receive. We watched videos of interviews from Maputo, there is a sadness, a politeness and a cry for help. Ejected from home was what I felt they felt. The idea of having to leave home forcibly, in a hurry without deadlines, officers breathing over your neck, glasses still fuzzy, you stumble and grab you by the neck, just like a cat does with kitty. They never came back.
Walking around downtown to check for one of the art works of the exhibition and see some poetry from Brecht we stumbled on a street sign on the floor showing the place and date where and when Daniel H. was killed. I look at the phone and today is the date two years later. A guy comes and asks us if we knew about Daniel, his name was Mike, I answer yes and we start to talk. He was a friend of Daniel and had some sort of drunkenness mixed with rage in the air. Everything very blurry, very much without glasses… he talked about the Antifas (Zecken as he called) and that they were trying to destroy the small monument, I tell him that Daniel’s death was crazily used by Nazi’s, his eyes filled with rage, Eliza’s hand reached the pepper spray. I calmly asked him if he was a Nazi himself, he says no, my friend told me he was using Nazi nomenclature. His eyes were full with tears and hopping the murders would stay in prison for life. Telling that the Antifa’s were bad people. When we came back home, we discussed about how his death was highjacked and how Mike would for sure align with those protecting his friend’s memory and past (in this case the Nazi’s). By the end of the talk he said he would go to the cemetery to visit Daniel’s grave.
It was all a mix, juxtaposed, amalgamated. Science fiction can perhaps bring all of that together and by chance or by will this has been a constant in conversations. How to create worlds? how can we today think of a future that we don’t know and wish that the freedom of thoughts can only show us desires. A fragment of this is now below:
Habobo has started doing something absurd in this rather normal dark day in xenoland and taking the last drops of light, habobo bribes the doorman from the villa and jumps the gate. they look back to look forward, the prisma rainbow image becomes something like a joker figurine where all the codes and cards can be placed as dreams. Walking up, passing the Snakezone where the so called "disables' land" were placed. Habobo talks with a guy pretending to be a snake as well and looking towards the very last fragment of light which still stays in the protagonists pocket. they talk about the construction of a land, the ethnic cleansing composed the land scape while the recently imported carnaval with masks distracted the population. bullets, fire on petroleum, gas bombs, pepper spray for some sort of amusement were used to clean (as they called). the flying electronic birds dropped bits and pieces of napalm over recently erased crowd. they now have no name, at least that can be pronounced. the flying birds have ultra sensitive mics and can capture every little word from habobo and the door man. They avoid the birds by diving deeper on the shit which composes pretty much every single inch of this godforsaken land. habobo copes with that he/she was born on and inside of it, making it part of habobos life and body. therefore the birds cannot distinguish shit from habobo. she/he asks around the prisma, but no one understands it since they have never seen colours, the very strange idea of thing with coloured images makes absolutely no sense for the people of this world.The words used by habobo gave away his/her coming land, the people started to suspect since they have never seen another person from another place than snake-land an non-disable entity, how could they deal with habobo's very presence? which words should they use? they started to call the snakes. gather them as a form of protection and fascination. they adore them because they were protected by them. a bunch of thousands snakes arrived within minutes, habobo was surrounded, imprisoned by those eyes, he/she started to describe, in sort of a trance the words of the colours which composed the rainbow stone. Purple, yellow, green, magenta, red, azul, blue, grey, white, weiss, bianco, orange, amarelo, brown, bege, cream, golden as habobo was at the very moment when the snakes stopped with their floating necks in the air and looked at habobos eyes. the snakes knew those names, they understood what he/she was talking about. Everything stopped, the clocks, workers and satellite images all suspended in the air.
Four, five, six minutes after writing this, an old man enters the space and we start all discussing about the past, he tells us about the west antennas being broken by people aligned with the regime. Antennas were waves of exit at that time, twisted metals, oval forms, cables crossing the balcony and the living room which brought news from a second floor. how were the waves that carried the images from the outside? He told us that they had to hide the receivers on the roof, together with pigeons and the drying dishes.
Someone asked him what he missed the most:
we were free in the outside but free in the inside, imagining together something that would come which was already happening.
People don’t study themselves any longer, they study something else and dressed it as logos in form of statements.
Tomorrow I will leave this town, the days will become text and memory. I gave one last walk before taking the bus, staring at the brutalist buildings, trying to imagine the brutalists architecture being inhabited, me having a coffee in front of the Head, mentally replacing the landscape from today with the old images from archive footages. The bus driver looks at me and I know he have seen and lived those images.