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KOLLEKTIVNYE DEYSTVIYA (COLLECTIVE ACTIONS). THE DESCRIPTIONS OF ALL THE ACTIONS, Photo and Video

JOURNEYS TO THE COUNTRYSIDE. VOLUME SIX

KITE LAUNCH IN PRORA. Photo of the performance by Collective Actions (KD)

72. KITE LAUNCH IN PRORA

S. H.: The launching of a kite can be treated as light sporting activity for seaside outdoorsmen. Or does this action gain a special taste when backgrounded by romantic Rygen landscape? This background – taking into account the notion “Haimat” (Motherland) – is intensified by architerctural ensemble of a resort named “KDF” (“power through joy”), monstrous relicts of Nazi holiday home named Prora.

A.M.: Clearly, this action is of “shifted”, almost oneiroid nature due its location. The depressive architecture of Prora’s “earth-scrapers”, a sort of “Anti-New York”, these grey centipedes are so inspiring esthetically that any action seems useless before them, as there’s always something else to see. In a place like Prora, a place of unfinished rituals, any action is forced to be come ritual. This necessarily involves mass ritual gatherings in its central part. The oneiroid side lies in the fact that while launching the kite I felt some forced action, partially or not controlled at all, like in dreams. For me personally there was no “side” view, I acted as a machine, or, more exactly, as its part. That is, probably, the reason why I got this “schizophrenical” trauma of fingers from the revolving drum with the line to which the kite was attached.

S. H. I want to add several details to this description. I think that Prora’s architecture cannot be treated unanbiguously, and that gives the opportunity of suspension, in either touristic meaning or historical. You are right when you speak of depressive minimalism which is created by the construction’s immensity, closed facades stretching almost five kilometers in a huge line along the seashore, without any color shades or architectural diversities – I mean dull repetitions without rhythmical variations which are especially magnified in contrast with diverse and agile forms of the sea waves and rhythmical rotation of trees along an alley when you are driving by it in a car. All this is true. But the functionality of Bauhaus style is also there. The complex is designed so that the windows of each and every vacationer (20000 persons in total) faced the sea. Besides that, the project included different verandas, cafeteria etc., as architectural details and ornament. Therefore, the original project suggested some diversity, but it was never realized because of the war. It is important to know that in the central part a huge neo-classical hall also wasn’t realized. And what we were left with is the empty center for action.

A.M. That’s what I’m talking about – the action, I mean the launching of the kite, was performed in the empty sacred center. Actually, this hall used to host mass gatherings of ideological purpose. No kite launches were supposed here. Every action is first of all compared to its location and is even somewhat determined by them. An actionist is attracted by the place in the same way as an artist is attracted by canvas, but while the painter works with colors and brushes, i.e. his choice is rather limited, the actionist is perfectly free in instrumental sense, at least at first sight. He seems to be be able to use anything he wants. But in fact I’m not completely sure that it is really so. Some archaical mechanism seems to be working here that “gathers up” a certain instrumentation for the action and then “guides” the actionist to the place where this instrumentation is used. Therefore, it is rather difficult to tell actionist activity from ritual or magic, although there certainly is some esthetical autonomy.

S. H. Here the ambivalent intension between the mass scale and elitism is also important. Prora was designed as a specimen of mass resorts – “leisure free for all”. This tradition can be traced until our days. In fact, Prora has always been a closed area. Many legends and gossips surround this place. The Red army showed up here after the war, they tried to blow up some parts of the ensemble, thinking that they could be somehow connected with rocket building facilities in Penemunde (perhaps they didn’t quite understand that this building was a resort). According to other gossip, there was some sort of submarine dock, some underwater subway for transporting the vacationers from the residential complex to the festive hall. It was also said that an exact copy of this complex resided somewhere in Argentina. In the times of German Democratic Republic this resort used to host military barracks. After the reunion Western military men would re-educate their Eastern colleagues there. And only last year this place became accessible to public. I could also say that the launching of a kite happened at the moment of “unsealing” of this place.

A.M. This is true, as I’m always stuck in the middle of “unsealing” situation. I mean, this is a rather infantile trait of character, or, to be more precise, trait of fate that has something to do with treasure-hunting syndrome, solving puzzles or some secrets etc. I remember that since my childhood. Perhaps this trait first became sealed within me and then in case with the kite cropped up. Kite launching is a childish kind of activity, is it not? And these scratches on my fingers remind of some childhood traumas, like that old grenade found in the sand, it blew up etc. Thus, Prora is in fact another playground.

S. H. Therefore we’re playing an action. And the word “actionist” that you’ve used earlier, has a double meaning. I mean, we have not only performed an action but also integrated it into the Prora complex. And now the point in question is whether to destroy these relics or perhaps find some usability for them. For me the most interesting proposal is to use different parts of the complex for various purposes, in order to eliminate the totalitarian nature of these incumbent stone giants. For example, to give them away to different enterprises and institutions like nurseries, resort homes, hotels, bookshops, sport centers, firms etc. Our part was launching the kite.

Rygen

15.3.1994.

S. Haensgen, A. Monastyrski

Sabine Haensgen at Prora

MOSCOW CONCEPTUALISM

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