In 2014, I was invited to the city of Schwedt to have a look at some of the “old pictures” in the collection of the former East German state-run oil processing plant VEB PCK Schwedt (now PCK Raffinerie GmbH Schwedt). In the GDR era, the company collected and commissioned several hundred artworks, which were regularly exhibited. Since 1989, however, the art collection has not been shown to the general public.
I asked myself who else should be able to see these “old pictures”? With my project Sag mir wo die Blumen sind (Where Have All the Flowers Gone), I came up with a way of giving viewers – who’d normally have no way to see the collection – an insider’s look at the some of the works. I worked with young people in Schwedt to create a guided tour of selected artworks from the PCK art collection and an accompanying video, both specially designed for the blind and visually impaired.
“Imagine you’re standing in front of this artwork and you can’t see it. What would you like to know about it?” Taking the titles of the works as a starting point, questions were asked for each work. Answering these questions was the task I undertook with my young team in Schwedt: Enrico Frontzek, Mirjam Bunn and Angie Winkel worked with me to create vivid and thought-provoking descriptions of the selected artworks. Viola Brocker from Schwedt spoke both the questions and the answers for the video.
Out of a total of 23 works selected for the guided tour, eleven were presented in a video piece that was presented along with sketches and Braille descriptions of the artworks in an installation in the Kunstverein Schwedt. The tour, offered to members of the city’s Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, began in the exhibition and continued on to the facilities of the PCK refinery. There the visitors not only had the opportunity to touch artworks, but were able to listen to the young artists’ descriptions of the works included on the tour.