Ostalgisches Meerweh

I realized a complex investigation about the site, in this case, Jena in Germany and the ideas and distribution of illumination in the public space in the city. By itself is a very dark place, where most of the streets are obscure during the night . Surrounded by abandoned structures from GDR times, most of the buildings of great size, not related with the University, are practically empty. The process started observing the relationship of light and sun, and the impossibility of traveling before the wall came down. It’s interesting to notice that there exist a numerous amounts of places that use, as nominal structures, words that refer to the tropics. So from the very beginning the work was settled in the necessity of the action of traveling in this particular section of Germany and the idea of illuminating the city through the image of the tropics. After a long period of research, I found the strange information that during the GDR period Fidel Castro gave Erich Honecker a small island in Cuban territory as a present. After the demolition of the wall, this strange piece of territory was never reclaimed, so it did not become a part of the reunified Germany. Such a particular story gave me the opportunity to talk about the strange nostalgia for the past times, a very particular sensation that produced a complicated constellation of contradictory feelings within myself. Mixing my past as a former kid pioneer and my Latin-American background, I developed an invitation to take part in an imaginary trip to the Ernst-Thällmann Island, and subsequently to the beach, called for real PLAYA DDR.

The final output of the
piece was an installation in the Bus Station Jena Paradise (Busbahnhoff Jena Paradis), a structure that is prompt to be removed and renewed to transform itself into a contemporary ultra modern station with the same esthetic of a regular train one. So this abandoned and completely dark bus station acted as a receptacle of the piece, that was made up of a monitor hanging from the ceiling in a metal structure similar to the preexistent ones used to display information on the place. Inside the metallic box a monitor showed in constant movement the story of the island and a video-diary of German fictional traveler to the islet. The monitor was the only illuminated spot on the place, so this alternative stop was an invitation to the light of the tropics.

Note From the Curator:

It only takes an instant
for an impression
to become a vision.

(Bill Viola,1985)

The action of traveling is a movement that drives to a development of a personal imaginary. Travel, a powerful sour
ce of change, activates an accumulation of images that causes a particular narrative of space by performing the experience of exploring. This contact with the otherness and continuous reflection on personal identity, that involves the action of travel, is the main subject of the intervention of Nayari Castillo. Using the traveller’s metaphor, the anxiety for the sea (Meer-weh) and the tropical dream, Castillo develops a video diary of an imaginary movement, which registers the experience of a personal history within a foreign environment. The events cited by the artist evoke the impressions of a German voyager travelling to a Caribbean island; the Ernst Thälmann Island, which is not only a small-unexplored land, but also a real remain of the GDR territory. Working with “OSTALGIE”, a nostalgic German voice of the former GDR times, the artist takes into consideration historical ideas and images of the period. She produces a video-piece that combines, playfully, GDR-memories and experiences in the tropics, producing a portrait of the travel.

Hipatia Amos

This work was reformulated for an "white cube" space and shown as part of the exhibition "El Dorado" in the National Gallery Caracas. In may 2008 will be shown as part of the Conference "Aboard the Bauhaus" .