Shortly before the G8 party was over I went to Rostock with some friends. There was an art exhibition (Art goes Heiligedamm) and of course some protesting. And a lot of police in full Power Ranger gear. The art exhibition looked surprisingly unprofessional and despite a few nice works it was quite boring. The highest entertainment factor had an installation in progress by Stan’s CafÃƒÂ© that consisted piles of rice. Each grain of rice represented one person, each pile a number from some statistic that the artists found on the web (that I assume, because there was a laptop on the artists’ worktable besides a balance and bags of rice). Of course visualizing statistics is nothing new in art, but using the rice grain metaphor was a nice choice. Also Stan’s CafÃƒÂ© proved that they have some humor by showing statistics of people getting injured while working with balances in the UK – next to their own balance as well as three rice grains for representing Bono, Bob Geldorf and Herbert GrÃƒÂ¶nemayer and other little side kicks of that style. Note that Stan’s CafÃƒÂ© is a theater group, not a group of installation artists – shoveling the rice is part of the piece and it seems like a good metaphor for what is happening behind the fence of Heiligendamm.
I also liked a testimonial piece where migrants talked about their personal history. Unfortunately I only listened to one of the testimonials, because there was some improvised theater going on which was in line with the whole Art goes Heiligendamm show (meaning it was so bad that it was embarrassing). Being there with people who knew the organizers and getting seated in the first row it was socially unacceptable to leave. The only thing that kept me awake was the thought that after getting out I could finish the testimonial I had been listening too. Unfortunately there was no time, because the stupid performance went on for more than an hour and we had to catch a train. Anyway, there is a website where you can listen to all of the testimonials: http://www.migration-audio-archiv.de/audioweb/
One of the nicer pieces of art I saw in Rostock was not part of Art goes Heiligendamm. Police gathered under a tree to avoid the sun. The result was beautyful: The shadow of the tree was filled with police officers in Power Ranger outfits (has no one ever thought of water cooling those combat suits?). It reminded of works of Art by Richard Long, where he fills a regular shape with pieces of stone or wood that are by nature not regular (example). I liked the instant, self-organizing Richard Long lookalike in Heiligendamm even better than the originals. Of course knowing the originals added to my joy. Putting human beings in uniforms and imposing a hierarchical system onto them partially removes their individual intelligence as well as other attribute of their individuality from them (which is fine sometimes). The heat in this case works as a uniforming force which competes with the hierarchy of the social system they are in. Beautiful.
There is one more small thing that I have to mention: At some point we wanted to see another part of the exhibition which was located outside the protest area. The police did not want to let us out first, but then offered that the women could pass but not the men (We were two men and two women, none of us was wearing a black shirt). The Police officer who did not want to let us pass was a woman herself.