An engagement with the political and social dimensions of places, as well as the histories inscribed in them, is at the core of the work of Silke Schatz. She addresses specific locations - which often have an autobiographical import – and interprets the stories she finds there, both public and private, through drawings and sculpture that reference their architectural settings.
This exhibition includes recent and early works by Schatz, some quite personal, such as Roma, Via Calderini, 68, 2004 a drawing representing the interior of the artist's therapist's office during a residency in Rome, and Überblick (Overview), 2013 which tells the story of the tragic life of her ex-boyfriend's grandmother, a dressmaker who was the victim of events during the Second World War and the period of the GDR. Other works such as Cooling Tower Smoke, 2016 touch upon issues surrounding nuclear energy and its impact on German towns like Lingen, where Schatz was invited to make an exhibition in 2016.
Schatz addresses a current topic of intense political debate for the first time in several works based on one of the largest illegal refugee camps in Western Europe, the “Jungle” in Calais. While researching the situation locally, she became aware of the fact that the camp is located on a former landfill site for construction rubble, and tons of material contaminated with asbestos is scattered across the area. This toxic situation prompted her to design a warning poster – “Ne Pas Toucher Amiante Blanc!” – which is simultaneously an emblematic statement on the inhumane conditions at the camp as well as a practical medium for informing the people there of the dangers present. The poster is both an artwork shown in the context of an exhibition and a real warning sign used in the “Jungle”. This body of work also includes “Bank von Calais”, a bench made as an edition, which replicates the benches commonly erected in public parks and can also be found in the area where the camp has been set up. While immigrants sit on these benches in the camp as a matter of course, Schatz also presents them for visitors to use in the rarefied domain of the exhibition space. Visitors are invited to sit on the bench.