2013 Fellow Chris Avis selected for international arts festival
Published: 30 Aug 2017
2013 Fellow Chris Avis has been selected for Schlachten 2017, an International Arts Festival based in Wünsdorf Bunker ‘city’ and Neue Galerie Wünsdorf, Zossen, Germany. The festival will take place from 9th September to 8th October 2017.
In 1935, the bunker city in Wünsdorf became headquarters for the Wehrmacht, the German Armed Forces. The Nazis’ entire second world war campaign was guided from the Zeppelin underground communications bunker at Wünsdorf. It provided direct contact through telex to the fronts at Stalingrad, France, Holland and even Africa.
The Nazis’ buildings were of such strong construction, with walls over a metre thick, that they proved very difficult to damage – a fact evidently appreciated by the Soviets after the SS had fled. After sufficiently damaging the bunker complexes to make them unsuitable for military use according to the Potsdam Agreement, the Soviets settled in. The army of the Soviet Union was stationed there for almost 50 years and the plant was equipped for the event of an atomic war. Since the withdrawal of the Russians in 1994, the immensely large bunker system has been largely left to itself - the duration of the "natural" decay process is estimated to be at least 1,000 years. In 1998, the Bücherstadt-Tourismus GmbH, based in Zossen, took over the administration of the facilities.
The central theme of the Schlachten 2017 festival, 'I am safe', challenges the importance of security. Where are we safe – in bunkers? Is there any security at all? Being concealed from danger; concealing intentions; securing and assuring oneself; are all reactions to today’s challenges of increasing globalization. Millions of people are fleeing from war and economic insecurity and are homeless, therefore, the desire for security grows.
At the festival, Chris will be showing a seven minute video entitled 'Is it safe to dream?'
“At midnight, the police helicopters siren droned overhead for hours waking me up from sleep. The following day I found out that there had been a terrorist attack close to my home in London. The helicopters droned every night for a week after the attack. I drifted into sleep to the pulsing sound and I remember thinking, is it safe to sleep, is it safe to dream? 'Is it safe to dream?’ is my response as an artist to events that have taken place this summer in London. The fear that emerges at a sub conscious level is explored and the threatening sounds are given a dreamlike rhythm" -Chris Avis
For her Fellowship, Chris travelled to Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands in 2013 to research attitudes to ageing in the arts.