The exhibition title refers to the age of the artist's mother’s imprisonment, 22 - the same age the artist started researching the story.
Deutsches Haus at New York University will present an art exhibit by Elsa Westreicher on Friday, March 13, with a conversation between Ms. Westreicher and the exhibit’s curator, Julia Lammer. The discussion, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Deutsches Haus exhibition space, 42 Washington Mews (off University Place), New York, N.Y.
Ms. Westreicher (born in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1989) is a German artist living and working in Berlin. Through photographs, interviews, and original documents, Westreicher is aiming to understand the past of her mother, who was indicted for attempting to leave the German Democratic Republic in 1977, at the age of 22, and sentenced as a political prisoner.
The artist’s mother spent a year at the women’s prison Hoheneck, which held both criminals and political prisoners in inhumane conditions. Although Hoheneck’s capacity was 260 prisoners, it was constantly overcrowded and its population peaked in 1974 with 1,672 women. Westreicher’s personal exploration reflects a trans-generational trauma that was carried in silence, but also a curiosity to understand the history both of her mother and of a country that for the generation born since the mid-Eighties is difficult to imagine divided.
The exhibition title refers to the age of her mother’s imprisonment, 22 - the same age the artist started researching the case, photographing the ruins of Hoheneck, and speaking about this unspoken topic with her mother and grandmother. The crime for which her mother was sentenced was the violation of paragraph §213, concerning illegal crossing of the border. At the age of 23, her mother was freed when a ransom was paid by West Germany, but was unable to return to East Germany.
Westreicher uses the South wall of Deutsches Haus’s second floor as an open filter book, a practice she has consistently employed over the course of her three-year research project.
The exhibition is curated by Julia Lammer and supported by Deutsches Haus at New York University. For information, call 212.998.8660.