Located in the garden of the Wende Museum, the former East German guardhouse that once monitored and controlled access to the state-run East German news agency, Allgemeiner Deutscher Nachrichtendienst, now plays host to rotating installations by contemporary artists using the structure as a site of experimentation and inquiry.
Los Angeles-based contemporary artist Sichong Xie’s guardhouse installation, Memory Structure, Scaffold Series, features objects and arrangements emblematic of memory and temporality: bamboo scaffolding, embroidery on industrial mesh, and a set of laser-engraved drawings that will fade from continual exposure to light, through which the artist reimagines architectural drawings created by her grandfather in the late 1950s and early 1960s. None of his building plans were realized after Chinese authorities exiled him to a labor camp following the publication of a drawing considered critical of the government. The architectural drawings lived on only in the Xie family archive.
By incorporating a hand-built bamboo scaffold behind the guardhouse, Xie metaphorically speaks to the invisible labor of workers often hidden behind the industrial mesh and scaffolding ubiquitous to construction sites. Memory Structure, Scaffold Series brings the materiality of the natural bamboo into direct conversation with the mass-produced nature of the scaffold and its role in development. The installation connects the soft memory of never-completed intellectual labor—the artist’s grandfather’s renderings—with the never-ending labor required by commercial building.
An opening reception will be hosted in the Wende Garden on September 12, 2021, at 3 p.m. PDT.
The Wende Museum is an art museum, historical archive of the Cold War, and center for creative community engagement that explores and inspires change. Founded in 2002, the Wende holds an unparalleled collection of art and artifacts from the Eastern Bloc and promotes a multi-layered exploration and discussion of the period. Named for the German word meaning “transformation” that describes the era leading up to and following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the museum serves as a foundation for dynamic programming that illuminates the political and cultural changes of the past and sparks personal and social changes for the future.
The Wende Museum is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit wendemuseum.org.