Christa Joo Hyun D’Angelo

Past Present Tense (2014-2015)

HD Video, 32’, with sound, German with English Subtitles

Introduction by curator Tina Sauerländer

Migration is as old as humanity itself. In Europe, many migrations have taken place throughout history: The ancestors of today’s Germans, for example, are a mixture of different tribes including the Romans and the Goths. Cultures have never been fixed; they have instead always been in a constant flow of change and reconstitution. Yet the recent wave of refugees in Germany has shifted the political climate and elevated right-wing extremist parties.

In this context, I chose the work Past Present Tense by the Busan-born and Berlin-based American artist Christa Joo Hyun D’Angelo for this year’s Screen City Biennial on the topic Migrating Stories. In a series of interviews, cultural minorities who experienced life in the GDR–East Germany from 1949 until 1990–share their stories about life in a socialist country, intolerance, racism and neo-Nazism. Their experiences reflect today’s developments and reveal the inhuman behavior resulting from shallow fear and the inability to accept change as a fundamental principle of life. Their stories also witness how German culture changed by the split from one identity into two: one capitalist nation and one socialist country. Although the GDR existed for “only” 40 years, the alienation of the two cultures and the struggle to rejoin the two is still palpable today. As Karl Marx believed: the being determines consciousness. “If you want to understand the future and the present, you have to look back at the past,” states the first interviewee in Past Present Tense, thus explaining one way to overcome fear and handle change.

Read the Curator Perspective by Tina Sauerländer in the SCB Journal.

About the artwork

The work was available 12 October – 1 December 2017.

Online Exhibition