The mall – the 20th-centuries postwar adaptation of the historical market place. Carefully designed to meet the needs of the whole family, with theme parks, caged animals, restaurants, and hundreds of shops sheltered from the weather to create a comfortable atmosphere in which to spend money.
Having had the great misfortune of visiting some of the “great malls” of North America – The West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, and Mall of America in Minneapolis, US – I have sort of vowed to stay away from them. In fact, I haven’t stepped foot in a single mall in about 4 - 5 years. I found it ironic that my first trip to Berlin – a city with so much depth and history – that I would return to Montreal and be able to boast that I had visited the largest mall in Berlin. Not only did I visit it once, but also I practically walked through it or past it every day either to use the Internet or buy my food. A few times I sat in it, sheltered by a transplanted indoor tree – had a beer and smoked a cigarette. I watched friends meet, children get entertained, and people spend their money. Having had been in Münster and Kassel at the beginning of my trip – with their perfectly collapsible outdoor market places – I found the permanence of the mall in Johannisthaler-Chaussee such a terrible contrast to its more subtle and fleeting predecessor.
I used my time
in Gropiusstadt to walk around, work on my art projects, regenerate, explore
Berlin, see art, and think about how my sculpturally based practise could somehow
be meaningful within the context of Gropiusstadt. Of course I was interested
in the wall, and went a few times to explore the waste transport border-crossing
site and marvelled at how barren it was. The sign read that space will be transformed
into a recreational centre. Even now it is used for kite flying, joggers, bicyclists,
and people walking their dogs.
From the apartment window you can look down and see a public space – trees, gardens, park benches, and pathways. From the vantage point of the balcony, the shadows cast by the large garden trees beautifully morph throughout the day. I decided to map one of the shadows, and with a mound of dirt, recreate it – I wanted to transplant it to the old border-crossing site.
One sunny morning I mapped the shadow. It turned out to be 23.75 meters long and would require far more dirt than I was prepared to haul by hand. I decided then to do a smaller version of the project. I considered alternate spaces and shadows – I was drawn to the square by the station and the Sunday market. However, by then I ran out of sunny days. I decided to resolve the project at a later date in Gropiusstadt or in Montreal.