By Faguet, Michele
Artforum International , Vol. 48, No. 2
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and yet the headquarters of the Ministerium fur Staatssicherheit, the former East German secret police better known as the Stasi, remains virtually untransformed. The most significant change has been the removal of millions of files, as investigators try to clarify what is still a very hazy episode in German history. With "State of Control," Thomas Kilpper has created a labor-intensive intervention in one of the headquarters' buildings--long abandoned and now up for sale--with an extensive series of linocuts meticulously etched into the original linoleum floor and then utilized to make massive prints exhibited on an upper floor and hung from the building's facade. Concurrently, an extensive exhibition at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein presented older work as well as video documentation.
If the German terra Vergangenheitsbewaltigung, "coming to terms with the past," is more typically utilized in relation to the Holocaust, it is also relevant to discussions about the former German Democratic Republic. At least, this is what Kilpper seems to imply by archiving, etching, and printing ninety images taken from books and print media or downloaded from the Internet, an ensemble engaging with the particular significance of this site while insistently contextualizing it against a broader narrative of both concentrated and diffuse forms of authoritarianism within and outside Germany.
The archive includes photographs of a number of key GDR political figures, such as Erich Honecker, Stasi heads Erich Mielke and Markus Wolf, and Brandt administration infiltrator Gunter Guillaume, as well as images that depict or refer to the methods of surveillance and incarceration notoriously implemented to suppress internal dissent. …