2013 Fellow Chris Avis exhibits her work at international arts festival
Published: 17 Oct 2017
2013 Fellow Chris Avis recently exhibited her work at Schlachten 2017, an International Arts Festival based in Wünsdorf Bunker ‘city’ and Neue Galerie Wünsdorf, Zossen, Germany, which took place between 9th September and 8th October 2017. Below, Chris looks back on the festival.
I clearly remember visiting the Cabinet War rooms in preparation for my Fellowship interview. I never imagined that four years later I would be part of an International Art Festival, Schlachten 2017, located, in part, in the Wunsdorf-Waldstadt Bunker city, 14,000sq metres deep underground, 30 kilometers east of Berlin, the site of the operations centre of the Wehrmacht in the second world war.
The central theme of Schlachten 2017 was ‘I am Safe’. I attended the ‘finissage’ of the festival held on 7th October. The first of the two parts of this event took place in the Neue Gallerie, a large gleaming white professional gallery with open plan areas leading off a long main walkway, situated in the grounds of the Wunsdorf underground bunkers. The Schlachten Director toured the audience of about fifty people around the works explaining the reason for the selections.
My video 'Is it safe to dream?' was being screened at the end of the walkway, with haunting sound echoing across the whole gallery. Members from the audience commented on the success of my animated stills which led the viewer from light dream sleep into deeper darker places. Although language was a problem for me I felt warmth and interest from the audience’s reaction to my work. Many people spoke to me after the tour to compliment me on the appropriateness of my moving submission.
The audience was then walked through the forest in the rain to the bunker entrance. We tramped down multiple stone steps to an everlasting maze of cold corridors. In the heart of this labyrinth we reached the performance space for ‘Painting Sound’ (pictured, top). This was a collaboration by musicians and painters from the UK, Germany and Poland performed in the heart of the vast nuclear bunker network. The sound echoed around the underground labyrinth as people from around the world stood transfixed.
If I had not had the opportunities created through my Fellowship I would never have even considered the possibility of being part of this Festival. I would definitely not have had the confidence to travel alone to Wunsdorf and face the uncertain demands of a nuclear bunker. This was just one of many times when I have been grateful for the Fellowship for challenging and empowering me as a person, and as an artist.
Read more about the festival and Chris’ work here.