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Michaela Melián

Foehrenwald (English version), Germany, 2007

DVD from a double slide projection 60 minutes, sound in collaboration with Carl Oesterhelt, edition 5

Courtesy of Barbara Gross Galerie, Munich

Michaela Melián draws the houses in Föhrenwald in Upper Bavaria in white lines on somber black. In the background, voices narrate stories based on authentic descriptions of people who have lived there and experienced these metamorphoses. The housing development has had a history full of twists and turns. During World War II, this peaceful neighborhood was turned into a camp for slave laborers who worked in a nearby gunpowder plant in the service of the Nazi war machine. Shortly after the war, as part of Germany’s American sector, it became a transit camp for Jewish death camps survivors. In the mid-1950s, destitute refugees from East Germany and Czechoslovakia were resettled there, after losing all their possessions during the war. Time is a great healer: having changed its names several times, Adolf Hitler Square was even named eventually Liberation Square. As streets were being renamed, according to the spirit of the times and the changing situation, the houses’ exteriors remained the same. Built in accordance with the Nazi ideology, the development as well as its houses and public buildings have not changed but rather remained to this day an ideal symbol of serene village-like life. The metamorphoses of the place are those of our times, and its story is that of its inhabitants.