Clean Square (2018)
Sonya Schönberger (DE)

Site-specific intervention (cleaned surface, weeds, ceramic pots)

Clean Square (2018) reflects on the forceful re-construction and containment of specific (urban) spaces. The artist removed all weeds and dirt from a designated area. Chosen plants were, however, salvaged and transplanted into ceramic pots made by Beate Bendel, who graduated with Hedwig Bollhagen, the maker of the embassy’s protective ceramic screens. During the exhibition opening, the artist named and identified each plant’s history and healing properties before it was redistributed through a raffle among the public. Clean Square draws attention to the task of caring for inter-generational histories through acts of responsibility, tenacity and care after the moment of expulsion, questioning what belongs where, who decides, and why.

Photos: Joanna Kosowska

Sonya Schönberger is a Berlin-based German artist whose practice is strongly influenced by historical themes in connection with biographical memories that have been marked by a break, often a break in political systems. Many of her works have developed out of various archives that she has created or found over the last years. Alongside these, Schönberger also works with the changing public space in Berlin due to political and social shifts. She works with formats such as photography, theatre, installations, publications etc.. Her works have been exhibited internationally, including in the USA, Iran, Pakistan, Israel and Canada. Sonya Schönberger is represented by Katharina Maria Raab Gallery.

The governing political party of the GDR (German Democratic Republic).
Led by architect Horst Bauer, who also designed Berlin’s iconic Café Moskau.
Tobias Doll, Elisabeth Eulitz, Karla Schäffner. Berlin- Pankow: Sozialistische Botschaftsbauten Städtebauliche Dokumentation – Freiraumplanung – Typenbauten. Masterarbeit im Masterstudium Denkmalpflege der TU Berlin, Wintersemester 2012-13.
One key architect involved in the urban planning of Marzahn, Wolf-Rüdiger Eisentraut, was in 1996 to renovate the embassy itself when it was transformed, briefly, into a medical laboratory.
A 1970 ‘Neues Deutschland’ article compared Australia to ‘neo-colonialist’ South Africa, citing its ambitions towards regional dominance, its racist ‘White Australia’ policy and ‘arch-reactionary’ denigration of Aboriginal people. See: Walter Kocher, ‘Der folgsame Vetter des Uncle Sam’, Neues Deutschland, 12.7.1970, 6.
The site was rented from the GDR by Australia, however operations were prematurely closed down in 1986. Held by the public hand for a time, the site subsequently hosted a kindergarten, the Deutsche Industrie- und Handelsbank AG, and the medical laboratory bioscientia Institut f. Laboruntersuchungen Ingelheim GmbH, before being privatised by the BImA) (Institute for Federal Real Estate) to investor Lars Dittrich, hosting the media start-up tape.tv, being resold to real estate developer Prexxot GmbH and now: hosting the artist studio complex Atelierhaus Australische Botschaft Ost, who are currently attempting to extract the building from the speculative real estate bubble, looking towards collective ownership formats.
Doreen Massey, For Space, (SAGE Publications, 2005) 70-71.
Monteath, Peter (2008) ‘The German Democratic Republic and Australia’ in Debatte: Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, 16:2, 213-235, siehe auch: Schedvin, Boris (2008) Emissaries of Trade: A history of the Australian trade commissioner service, Canberra: WHH Publishing, 279-280.
Daley, Paul (2018), ‘Revealed: how Australian spies filmed Indigenous activists during the cold war’ in The Guardian, 13/02/2018. Artikel online aufrufbar hier.
Monteath Peter & Munt, Valerie (2015), Red Professor: The Cold War Life of Fred Rose, South Australia: Wakefield Press, 275.
Hurley, Andrew Wright (2015), ‘No Fixed Address, but currently in East Berlin: The Australian bicentennial, Indigenous protest and the Festival of Political Song 1988’ in Perfect Beat, 15:2, 129-148.
Krätzer, Tobias (1998), Botschaften und Konsulaten in Berlin: Eine stadtpolitische Analyse, Berlin Verlag, 132.
Frederic Jameson, ‘The Aesthetics of Singularity,’ New Left Review, no. 92 (2015): 130.
This definition of neoliberalism draws on William Davies, The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition (London: Sage, 2014). I have written about this at more length and with full references elsewhere: Ben Gook, ‘Backdating German Neoliberalism: Ordoliberalism, the German Model and Economic Experiments in Eastern Germany after 1989,’ Journal of Sociology 54, no. 1 (2018).
Arbeitsgruppe Alternative Wirtschaftspolitik, Deutsche Zweiheit—Oder: Wie viel Unterschied verträgt die Einheit? Bilanz der Vereinigungspolitik (St Katharinen: PapyRossa, 2010).
www.bild.de/politik/wirtschaft/griechenland-krise/regierung-athen-sparen-verkauft-inseln-pleite-akropolis-11692338.bild.html
Gil Eyal, Iván Szelényi, and Eleanor R. Townsley, Making Capitalism without Capitalists: Class Formation and Elite Struggles in Post-Communist Central Europe (London: Verso, 1998).
Gareth Dale, The East German Revolution of 1989 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2006); First the Transition, Then the Crash: Eastern Europe in the 2000s (London: Pluto Press, 2011).
Der Paritätische Gesamtverband, Menschenwürde ist Menschenrecht: Bericht Zum Armutsentwicklung in Deutschland 2017 (Berlin: Der Paritätische Gesamtverband, 2017).
Brigitte Young, Triumph of the Fatherland: German Unification and the Marginalization of Women (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1999).
Jonathan Olsen, ‘The Left Party and the AfD: Populist Competitors in Eastern Germany,’ German Politics and Society 36, no. 1 (2018).
On disenchantment, see Davies. On German’s ongoing division, see Ben Gook, Divided Subjects, Invisible Borders: Re-Unified Germany after 1989 (London: Rowman & Littlefield International, 2015). On divided Germany’s reckoning with Nazism and the GDR’s founding fantasies, see Julia Hell, Post-Fascist Fantasies: Psychoanalysis, History, and the Literature of East Germany (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997).
Morris Cohen and C.B. Macpherson, ‘Property and Sovereignty’, Property: Mainstream and Critical Perspectives (University of Toronto Press, 1978).
Kevin Gray, ‘Property in Thin Air’, Cambridge Law Journal, 50 (1991), 252–307.
Kevin Gray, The Legal Order of the Queue, 2007.
James E. Penner, The Idea of Property in Law (Clarendon Press, 1997); Cohen and C.B. Macpherson.
Nicholas Blomley, ‘Law, Property, and the Geography of Violence: The Frontier, the Survey and the Grid’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 93 (2003), 121–141.
Cohen and C.B. Macpherson.
Cheryl Harris, ‘Whiteness as Property’, Harvard Law Review, 106(8) (1993), 1721.
Aileen Moreton-Robinson, The White Possessive: Property, Power and Indigenous Sovereignty (University of Minnesota Press, 2015).
Ibid, Harris.
Davina Cooper, Governing Out of Order: Space, Law and the Politics of Belonging (Rivers Oram Press, 1998).
Emily Grabham, ‘”Flagging” the Skin: Corporeal Nationalism and the Properties of Belonging’, Body & Society, 15 (2009), 63–82.
Ibid, Cooper 629.
Ibid, Cooper 636.
Aileen Moreton-Robinson, ‘Imagining the Good Indige-nous Citizen’, Cultural Studies Review, 15(2), (2009), 61-80.
Here, there is a need to need to point towards – while refusing to appropriate – narratives of Aboriginal resistance to the settler state. A few key dates: In 1972, Aboriginal activists established the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on the lawns of Parliament House, the seat of government in Canberra, which carved out a physical, social and political space of belonging in the Australian capital until today, subverting the version of Australia that parliamentarians wish to portray to diplomatic visitors, and in constant struggle with the colonial state. In 1973 the White Australia policy, which had effectively barred non-European immigrants from moving to Australia, was disbanded with a series of legal amendments prohibiting racial discrimination from being formally included in immigration law. In 1976, following a ten-year strike by the Gurindji people, led by Vincent Lingiari, the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (Northern Territory) became the first ever Australian law to ‘grant’ land rights to Aboriginal people. The lie of terra nullius remained part of Australian common law until it was overturned in Mabo v The State of Queensland in 1992; a later Labor government reneged on the promise of federal land rights, creating a post-Mabo legislative framework for ‘native title,’ as a weaker and more limited set of rights. See Andrew Schaap, Gary Foley and Edwina Howell, The Aboriginal Tent Embassy: Sovereignty, Black Power, Land Rights and the State (Routledge 2013).
Doreen Massey, ‘Power-geometry and a Progressive Sense of Place’, in Tim Putnam, Lisa Tickner, Jon Bird Barry Curtis (Eds.), Mapping the Futures: Local Cultures, Global Change (Routledge, 1993).
Sarah Keenan, Subversive Property: Law and the Production of Spaces of Belonging (Routledge, 2015).
Glen Coulthard, Red Skin White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (University of Minessota Press, 2014).
Ibid, Coulthard.
Matthis Berndt, Britta Grell, Andreas Holm et al, The Berlin Reader, (transcript, 2013), 14-15.
Dallas Rogers, The geopolitics of real estate : reconfiguring property, capital and rights (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016).
Sabrina Apicella et al, “In the eye of the storm. Urban Transformations in Berlin: Realities of Crisis and Perspectives for Social Struggles”, in Teaching the Crisis (Group research project, Summer school program, 2013). See also http://teachingthecrisis.net/in-the-eye-of-the-storm-urban-transformations-in-berlin-realities-of-crisis-and-perspectives-for-social-struggles/
‘German Democratic Republic’, NAA: A1838/272 30/1/3 Part 3, German Democratic Republic – Relations with Australia, 318.
‘German Democratic Republic’, NAA: A1838/272 30/1/3 Part 3, German Democratic Republic – Relations with Australia, 316.
Monteath and Munt, Red Professor, 275.