The first video of the "Inside" project - "Mein Herz geschlagen" (roughly: "My heart beaten/beat"):
The project continues on Gvoon's YouTube channel. New video works with the black padded cell will be uploaded onto the channel several times a week.
All previous publications: https://www.youtube.com/@gvoonart
How it all began:
"Actually, it all started when I was at a playground in Berlin with my wife, my sister and my son Arthur. Somehow everyone was busy and I was rather bored. At the time I was doing the project "ausgesetzte Bilder" (roughly:"exposed pictures"), and so I thought to myself that maybe there was a possibility of exposing my pictures in the former central remand prison of the Stasi in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen."
With the help of his gallery owner at the time, Olaf Clasen, the original idea of exposing some of his paintings in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen developed into the concept of a complete installation in the remand centre about six months later.
"What I didn't know at the time was what all the decisions and other things on the part of the memorial management would entail in order to be able to realise anything at all, because everything I had in mind didn't correspond to the usual or normal daily routine of a memorial. Apparently quite a few commissions, ministries and committees discussed and decided on this beforehand."
Arthur attributes the fact that the ministries and committees agreed to his installation primarily to the former inmate (advisor), employee and then director of the memorial Hubertus Knabe and his substitute Helmut Frauendorfer. Both of them had repeatedly lobbied for the implementation of his idea.
"During the 2 months of construction in the memorial, a very complex spatial installation was then created, which extended over all 6 former interrogation rooms. The basis was the lead floor laid out in all the rooms, which I inscribed with everything that was important to me or others at that time. What else happened I can hardly put into words, as it goes far beyond what is to be experienced (at least for me)."
In the late afternoon of 13th September 2010, the exhibition opens at the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial.
"During the exhibition, around forty thousand visitors came to see the exhibition and installation each month, and the installation as a whole was in a constant state of flux. The lead floor that was laid out was worn and deformed (worn down) by the visitors, and the drawings hanging individually from brackets on the ceiling were removed and replaced by the very different visitors. By something that was left to the visitors themselves. For me, the whole thing had to do with the process of "letting go". The whole exhibition was then subsequently extended by two months, perhaps also because everything was rather unusual."
With the completion of the exhibition, a ten-year process of collecting begins: The entire remand centre, 680 rooms, are completely digitised by Arthur. Three-dimensional recordings are created, countless photo, video and sound works from his own point of view.
"At the time, I didn't really know what I was going to do with all the material. I just kept going and collecting. Maybe it was also a form of waiting to see what would happen, what would emerge by chance. The material that emerged was strange, even for me, because I didn't really think about how or why I was doing it, but only about how I was going to do it, how I was going to work through it, waiting to see what would happen to me. My initial trauma has actually receded a lot during the 10 years, at least what you can see on the outside. No one can peek into my head."
During this time of waiting and collecting, only one room remained in the end:
"With all the hundreds of rooms I worked through, some of them alone during the night hours, there was ultimately only one room that remained, the black padded cell located in the basement of the prison, room 2."
The black padded cell:
"I never really got to graps this black padded cell as a person, a person affected or as an artist. Not in any way, shape or form. All my experimental work in that space at that time already exceeded what one can do in a memorial, or is even allowed to do out of decency. It is actually the deepest room in this place, with the highest form of alienation of people. Around 2018, I had the idea, the thought, that in principle you would have to cut the whole room out of this memorial and put it back in another place. Yes, just cut it out and transfer it."
The "Beruhigungsverwahrraum" (roughly: "calming custody room" - an euphemistic term used by the Stasi to describe isolation cells) - the black padded cell - sits in the basement of the north wing of Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, the former central remand centre of the Ministry of State Security of the German Democratic Republic. At the beginning of 2019, Gvoon begins the reconstruction in a decommissioned workshop for lift repairs. The model is not the current padded cell, but rather the original cell as it was in 1980/81, the time of Arthur's own incarceration in the GDR.
"What I didn't anticipate at all at the beginning were the challenges that awaited me in such an undertaking. Although I had taken hundreds of photos, videos and sound recordings of the black padded cell of the Stasi over the years, I had not questioned anything about the actual technical construction. For this purpose, I then measured the entire room again in three dimensions with all the technical details. Using a large mould gauge, I took each of the elements with the rubber upholstery from the original as a mould and also measured them individually. They were and are all different widths, as they were individually adapted to the room at the time. The materials used at the time, the thickness and texture of the black rubber used, the substructures of the whole, the colour and material composition of the reddish floor up to the number and texture of nails and other things also played a role. Even the construction of the ceiling light and its position in the room played a primary role."
He needs two years for this work. The result is not a dummy or a backdrop, but a massive building - basically cut out of the year 1981 and placed into an empty workshop.
"Yes, then, when everything was finished and put together, then I was all alone inside for the first time , inside in the black padded cell in a different place."
Maybe, ,,just a room , where I always sit, , ,on my stool... . . . . . . all alone
Further information on the entire "Inside" project at https://www.gvoon.de/innen.html