“Übergang – Nähe und Distanz” (Crossing: Proximity and Distance), Heike Ponwitz

What can be seen here? The telescopes set up by Heike Ponwitz at the former Sonnenallee border crossing – as a “symbol of the surveillance conducted in the past and of the people’s longing for distance and expanse” – seem utterly out of place here at the edge of an unspectacular housing development. Because they are so unexpected, they attract attention and open “the gates of the eyes to the here and now.”

“The work uses apparently normal objects (two telescopes of the kind used by tourists) to respond to an ordinary urban setting. The word ‘Übergang’ (crossing, transition), however, is superimposed on the image visible through the telescope, disrupting the experience of the actual urban panorama. A border situation that has almost been effaced from memory is thus called back to consciousness via the unsettling effect of this word. At the same time, each individual viewer will bring his or her own knowledge, opinions, and associations into play in thinking about the situation. The intelligent inclusion of the observer distinguishes this work, as does the steadfast acceptance of the banality today of this peripheral cityscape, once an explosive political site. The term ‘Übergang’ is thereby also opened up to reflections beyond its political history/connotations.” (Excerpt from the comments of the jury, September 1996)

Heike Ponwitz

1955: Born in Luthe/Hannover
1976: Studied at Berlin’s Hochschule der Künste (University of the Arts)
1982: Master student; since then, freelance work as an artist and participation in sculpture competitions
From 1986: Taught at the Hochschule der Künste and Fachhochschule für Gestaltung, Kiel
Lives and works in Berlin

Kunst im Stadtraum (Art in urban spaces). 21 Kunstprojekte im Berliner Stadtraum, Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung, Kunst im Stadtraum, Berlin 2002