public attic / ausgestellter speicher

Installation (photography, video, audio, texts & objects), 2006
@ Depot der Gegenwart (Depository of the Present), Stadtmuseum Dresden (City Museum Dresden)

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public attic / ausgestellter speicher is a work about the things we collect, the things we keep, and the things we decide to get rid of. It’s a work that brings the neglected and the forgotten things to light, and lets us get to know their stories.

For this project, I visited 34 people who were willing to show me some of the belongings they keep in their attics. We talked about the objects, and I asked them to tell me why they keep the items in storage. I used various media (e.g. photography, video and sound) to ‘collect’ these objects, and to construct the ‘public attic’. The installation evoked the character of an attic, and the visitors were allowed to rummage through the things in the exhibition.


Following the inauguration of the Dresden City Museum’s new permanent exhibition, the ‘public attic’ was on display for six months in the Depot der Gegenwart (‘Depository of the Present’).

On the outer walls of the room, questionnaires – filled out upon each attic visit – were displayed, showing the answers the attic owners/users gave to my questions regarding the objects they showed me. To help participants answer the question “Why is this object kept in storage?”, I provided a checklist of various possible reasons (e.g. Reminder / Surprise, Narrative Potential, Investment, Connection to a Strong Emotion, Spatial Considerations, Sense of Duty, etc.; see one of the 34 questionnaires).

In the installation were many boxes and suitcases containing objects I had borrowed from the attics I’d visited (i.e. things I was allowed to share with others). The photos were affixed directly onto the paneled walls or onto the boxes, and the video sequences were presented on two monitors (with headphones). Next to an armchair in the corner, an audio piece recounted a list of all the things I had ‘collected’, in the words of their owners (narrator: Kerstin Katrin Birn).

Now and then in the course of the exhibition, new objects and stories were added to the collection. The exhibition catalogue for public attic / ausgestellter speicher (48 pages, German and English) contains personal and critical reflections, as well as images and narratives.

MORE about the institutions involved:

READ texts from the exhibition catalogue:

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