Displacement: Visual Artist Veit Stratmann
Paris-based artist Veit Stratmann, who presented the work title L'Aquila at The Project Room in 2012, has made a practice of researching and writing about places of massive upheaval and its impact on the people who have lived there. After the recent terrorist attacks in Paris which took place near his home, we had a conversation about the connections between this event and his work, and what motivates him to be an artist, especially during difficult times.
Notes from the artist: The picture below were taken in early December 2015 during a visit to Addis-Ababa. I was invited there as an echo to the L'Aquila project as there are parallels in the progressive dissolution of the city, namely the clearing out a 700 acre wide neighborhood along the Bantyketu River in the absolute center of the city. This historical and socially crucial neighborhood was evacuated, bulldozed and then fenced in. Nothing happened since. Former inhabitants described the neighborhood to me as a place of high social coherence, mutual support and solidarity. But I heard that it had a high crime rate as well. This crime rate was often given as the reason for the destruction of the neighborhood. But most of the former inhabitants firmly believe the that the real reason was that the authorities considered their neighborhood as too ugly to be looked at from the national Palace, situated in the immediate vicinity.
After the destruction of the neighborhood and its fencing off, the inhabitants who could afford it were relocated in condominiums outside the city limits. Those who couldn't pay simply became homeless, living in the streets. Naturally, in the process, the social coherence and the dense network of solidarity of the former neighborhood disappeared.
Born in Bochum (Germany), Veit Stratmann lives in Paris. From 1981 to 1986 Stratmann studied fine arts at the Ecole Supérieur des Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg, France and the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenen Künste in Düsseldorf, Germany as well as History and Political Sciences at the Albert Ludwigs Universität in Freiburg, Germany. Veit has exhibited widely and internationally. At the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Fondation Serralves in Porto, Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val de Marne MAC/VAL, Vitry sur Seine (France) , Sox in Berlin, Le Centre d’Art et de Diffusion Clark in Montréal, CAPC-Musée à Bordeaux, The Project Art Centre in Dublin, The Taedok Science Town in Taejon (South Korea), LiveInYourHead-Institut Curatorial de la Haute Ecole d’Art et de Design, Geneve, L’Institut d’Art Comtemprain in Villeurbanne, The Anderson Gallery at the Virginia Commenwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, The Nevada State Museum of Art, Reno, Nevada, La Fondation Miro in Barcelone, Le Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, le Saarlandmuseum à Saarbrücken and Galerie Chez Valentin in Paris and more recently at the Suyama Space in Seattle. Stratmann has given multiple lectures and participated in various symposiums in Europe, North and South America and Africa. The “imposible tasks” surfaced in the media of many countries, as proposals in the form of lectures, press articles and web sites. The developpement of the newest of those projects just started in Addis Abeba.