Give the neighborhood your face

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The exhibition features five portraits created from plastic bags and packaging material. The portraits show five residents of the Haselhorst district. They are framed on both sides by samples of material and color. Each 100 x 70 cm picture is accompanied by a statement from the person portrayed. Sabine, who was born and grew up in the district, is quoted as saying, „Yes, from the top I only see the sky and trees (…) that’s fantastic, yes“. She moved back to her childhood neighborhood in 2013.

The manufacturing technique LiHenn calls „plastic2art“ not only creates a specific flatness but also addresses the issue of dealing with waste. All plastic bags were found or donated. Since plastic bags are now banned throughout the EU, the artist’s supply will run out, and her artistic source material will seem to come from another time. Aesthetically, the production method is linked to collage techniques and encaustic.

LiHenn – „Give the neighborhood your face“
LiHenn – „Experienca de Vida_Monika Schulz“

LiHenn’s participatory approach allowed her to dive deep into the history of the Haselhorst district. As a first impression, the artist describes a certain uniformity of the houses: 10 000 people live in Haselhorst. At the same time, the settlement is also characterized by lots of green spaces. Individuality is easy to find, particularly in the distinctively designed balconies.

With the help of a social worker, through associations and the church, and thanks to a senior residence, LiHenn managed to interview some residents. The guiding interest here was to make both the faces of the neighborhood visible and the voices of some residents audible. This approach would honor people who would not normally be visible in historical documentation. In the conversations, LiHenn was interested in the stories of Haselhorst residents as well as their connections to the district. Most respondents reported a high quality of life and a continuity of residents, some even through generations, so that they also associate many childhood memories with the neighborhood. Many residents work at Siemens or grew up in Haselhorst because their parents worked there. Many of them still live there, or have returned to the area. The residents‘ story is thus quite atypical for Berlin, which is characterized by gentrification.

Part of the work is also a video that shows an interview with the longest resident of the district. She inherited her lease from her parents, who moved to the estate in 1933. Construction of the settlement began during the Weimar Republic, and ended during the National Socialist era. Despite extensive renovations, murals from the Nazi years can still be found, such as a terracotta relief with a mother and child, a tree of life showing children playing, a plowing farmer with a horse and a sower. The artworks from the Nazis are not explained in detail and are not contextualized.

The goal of LiHenn’s work, as the title of her work suggests, is to exhibit the portraits in the place where they were created. With a QR code, one will be able to listen to the life stories of the Haselhorster residents. Hopefully, the plan will soon be implemented for the benefit of the artist and the residents.

Text: Dr. Silke Förschler

About LiHenn:

LiHenn (born 1952) studied graphic design at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Bremen and completed university studies in art and German language and literature in Oldenburg. This was followed by teaching activities in Germany, Spain and Belgium. She opened her studio in Valencia / Spain in 2017 and works mainly with waste material from plastic film. She prints, weaves, collages or welds and fills the material. Themes such as people, neighbor, figure and individual are the focus of her work.

For more information: Instagram

Fresh A.I.R. #5 Online-Showcase

The Online-Showcase offers an opportunity to get an overview of the highly diverse projects of the fourth class of Fresh A.I.R. artists with their different kinds of media and aesthetics.

On view are video and photographic materials about the individual projects, each of which is accompanied by an explanatory text that aims to offer insights into the work’s aesthetic experience.

learn more about the Online-Showcase