Haishu Chen – German Balcony
Jiazazhi Press 2019
First edition of 650
In the summer of 2017, Chen Haishu and his wife moved to Nordstadt District of Karlsruhe, Germany. The building they live, along with the 50 surrounding buildings with almost the same appearance, belonged to the new military base of the US Army in Karlsruhe after the Second World War, Paul Revere Village. Like other US military bases in Germany, Paul Revere Village is well-equipped and self-contained, like a “small American”. The US troops stationed here had influenced the German local society in different aspects. The changes in the international situation also influenced the relationship between the US military in Germany and the German natives. After the end of the Cold War, the US troops withdrew from Karlsruhe and handed over the barracks, together with their supporting facilities – the military airport, schools and other infrastructure to Germany. This area was then subsequently converted into a new urban district. The barracks were expanded, added floors, equipped with balconies and became residential buildings for civilians; the airport was set as a nature reserve. Although the US military has completely withdrawn, its influence on German society for 50 years did not dissipate.
As new residents, Chen Haishu and his family experienced and practiced the functional transformation of living space and urban space through their own resident. In the project “German Balcony”, Chen Haishu documents the daily life of the area while looking for the news about the US military in Karlsruhe from the local newspaper Badische Neueste Nachrichten (BNN) in the history, and combine them together. Under different historical conditions, the coexistence of different groups and different cultures faces similar or different difficulties. Through this form, the work blurs the boundaries between the past and the present, public and private, and shows how the current daily life can be re-expanded in this historical relic and create new collective memories.
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