Kultur Palais Lichtenstein v2

Begehungen e.V. art residency project 
Film and sound installation, indefinite (9min50secs, looping)
Exhibited during Begehungen Festival, Saxony, August 2023 

“History repeats itself first as tragedy then as farce” (Marx) ...”then as YouTube” (Fisher), then as……?

Standing in the physical Kultur Palais (v1) at a moment of transition, the virtual Kultur Palais (v2) collages the rich - and at times troubling - history of the building, creating a archive of its past to be experienced as something between a haunted house, museum, cabinet of curiosities, mini-welt, theme park ride and acid trip.

Right now it feels as though history is spinning round and round…there is an obsession with archiving - with re-historicising - with projecting lost futures. Positioned within this popular temporal messiness, Kultur Palais v2 examines how a building can be understood as an archive. The building, as archive, contains a specific history; focussing inwards on this specific history can act as a lens for understanding the surrounding social and political changes. 

The Kultur Palais (v1), also known as Daetz Centrum and the Widows Palace, sits in the quiet town of Lichtenstein near the city Chemnitz, in the state of Saxony, Germany. In the summer of 2023, the Palais hosted Chemnitz’s annual Begehungen art festival, the latest iteration of the building, which began as a farm, before becoming a stately office, courtroom and prison; widow’s palace; prisoner camp; housing pre, during and post GDR; a TV set; a state garden show and, finally an art museum hosting global wooden sculptures.

The Palais is both ordinary and extraordinary. It’s both a place extremely local - containing a significant archive of local history - whilst also outwards looking, being the key space that bridges the town with wider cultural conversations. This tension, between local and introspective vs outwards and extrovert, is poignant in this region of Germany, which is (once again) battling with rising far-right fascism and racism. Can the virtual archive, as singular and pointed as it may seem, be a space to host conversations over parts of the buildings past - difficult memories included - realising the legacy that lives on today?

The Palais’ archive is brought to life, mashed together with typologies of collecting and a good dose of game aesthetics. For, where better placed is this virtual archive than the metaverse? Truly a bridge between the local and global. Art galleries and auction houses in the metaverse are hyped; Sothebys and Christies both have made strange low-fi replicas of their physical headquarters, under the pretence of democratising art, yet we all know it’s simply for expediting the full commodification of art to finance. But the aesthetics are fun - with the 80s, lof-fi, futurism, gameyest(?) game look. And, maybe it’s not all doom - perhaps there are other models for cultural spaces in the virtual realm that can foster conversations otherwise rendered impossible.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the ride.