ABWESENHEIT

Site-specific

Spanish Embassy, Berlin (Germany)

From 29/05/1992 to 31/07/1992

Curated by Dr. Claudia Buttner

Event Invitation

Chema Alvargonzalez's Ceremony Award, Oficer's Cross of the order of Civil Merit in 2012.

The character of this building provides a framework for understanding an important theme in my work: the manifestation of time as a historical process and a factor of personal experience. Absence, as a result of disappearance, is manifested here by the building´s covered-up windows, which, like eyes kept shut, reflect the gap that exists between the internal and the external, between reality and our mind. The existence of memory voids is suggested: the unknown, the imperceptible, the forgotten.

Light and sound are the main elements I employ in my work. Blue neon letters spelling the word “Abwesenheit” (absence) were hung inside a large hole remaining in the building from a wartime bomb. Red fluorescent lights are installed in the rest of the facade´s window openings. Sound is incorporated into the work through the playback of a segment of music by Arvo Pärt titled “Sarah was Ninety Years old”. The immaterial presence of music provides mediation between “Abwesenheit” and reality.

Chema Alvargonzález


Friday the 29th of May of 1992 at 20.30, the opening of the installation "Abwesenheit" from the artist Chema Alvargonzález took place, at the building of the old Spanish Embassy in Berlin. The artist's  work pointed towards the sonorous and visual elements, and their implantation in a defined space.

Berlin is taken as a incandescent point of contemporary history offers, like few cities in the world, a space for contrasts, in such a way that through its footsteps we acquire a different dimension of time. The Embassy, by explicit demand of the German authorities, was built in 1938 as a consequence of the change which took place from the previous Spanish Embassy located at the Palais-Winkler. It is a building constructed under the stylistic doctrines of the totalitarian architecture, which by its present state becomes a material testimony of the historical dimension of time. Destroyed during the war, a big part of it is in a ruined state, while the lateral wing was later reconstructed to house the present Consulate General of Spain. In a near future it will be the building which will host the Spanish Embassy.