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Other Homelands:
Origins and
Migration Routes
of Berlin Park
Drug Sellers
by Scott Holmquist Studio


Exhibition and Panel discussions
Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Museum
Rosa Luxemburg Salon
Südblock aquarium
November 2017 – January 2018

Other Homelands: Origins and Migration Routes of Berlin Park Drug Sellers


Exhibition and Panel discussions
Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Museum
Rosa Luxemburg Salon
Südblock aquarium
November 2017 – January 2018

"Drug dealers count among the most hated people in our society. No other group garners such uniform condemnation across all party lines. Scarcely anyone else has to live so demonized by racist and criminal stereotypes.”

Bettina Paul & Henning Schmidt‑Semisch,
Drogendealer: Ansichten eines verrufenen Gewerbes.
(1998)

"Drug dealers count among the most hated people in our society. No other group garners such uniform condemnation across all party lines. Scarcely anyone else has to live so demonized by racist and criminal stereotypes.”

Bettina Paul & Henning Schmidt‑Semisch,
Drogendealer: Ansichten eines verrufenen Gewerbes.
(1998)

Other Homelands Exhibition Origins

Other Homelands is one in a series of exhibits, works, and interventions resulting from Scott Holmquist's ongoing research on the recent history of successful civil disobedience and rebellion in Berlin. The first exhibit in this cycle was Peace.Love.Insurgency., in 2013, in Washington, DC. It included mirrored future-museum floor plans and their artifacts. Later it was expanded to an in situ 2014 exhibition and intervention, The Third Wall and the Last Hero, in Berlin's Kreuzberg Museum. There, the empty plinth of a fallen future monument to park drug dealers, the “Last Hero” of the title, appeared. In a 2016 intervention, a formal proposal to the city for such a monument incited an international media sensation. At the invitation of the Kreuzberg Museum, research among the dealers in Görlitzer and Hasenheide Parks became the exhibit here.

Exhibition Research – Individual Profiles / Media Collection

African-origin immigrants have become the public face of park drug dealers in Berlin as well as in other cities across Germany and Europe. Other Homelands – Origins and Migration Routes of Berlin Park Drug Sellers is an exhibition and research project which, among other goals, seeks to disrupt the peculiar hatred for drug dealers that has grown to become among the most tolerated forms of bigotry worldwide, a hatred that blends with, and often hides, everyday forms of racism. As a result, a large group of park drug sellers are not only openly – and with permission – hated as “dealers,” but are in addition denied the basic humanity of being from a real place – from another homeland.

Views of the Other Homelands Exhibition in Kreuzberg Museum.

The exhibition is built from two research efforts. One resulted in an expansive media collection on public drug dealing in Germany that reveals a range of dealer depictions and their public perception, many explicit in their construction of racist stereotypes. For the other, Holmquist surveyed dealers between 2015 and 2017 in Hasenheide and Görlitzer Parks, including with help from Gambian refugee-activist Moro Yapha.

To produce the final thirteen profiles, on a series of summer days and nights in 2017, Holmquist walked systematically by all park dealer-areas and approached all those who signified as dealers. The first thirteen to reveal their mother tongue, place of origin, and route to Europe were included in the project. Questions deliberately avoided all matters of private concern, like individual reasons for migration.

Exhibition’s Five Parts

For images, see Exhibition views

● Standing human silhouettes that function as displays, each containing maps, illustrations, and texts and that describe individual origins and migration routes of the surveyed drug sellers in their mother tongue, with German and English translations stacked at the figures' feet obliging visitors to bow.

● A media collection of more than 500 articles on public drug dealing in Germany (available here online) over the last twenty-five years displayed in image-only tableaus, panels of selected articles and a binder reading station.

● An online Travel Portal, accessible at a workstation, through which one could plan travel from Berlin to each of the subject dealers’ separate place of origin.

● A four-channel sound installation using sounds based on dealer origin locations, produced for the exhibition by Tom Ritchford, musician and sound artist.

● A prototype steel figure and architectural drawing depicting the outdoor installation of the exhibit human silhouettes in Berlin’s Viktoria and Görlitzer Parks.

Map Tipping and Panel Discussions

All exhibition maps were tipped to North to East, with West Africa featured at the top and center. Four panel discussions took place about racism, post-coloniality, and anti-drug dealer bigotries.

Press Superlatives and Attempted Censorship

At once playful and sober, the show has been the subject of more press reports than any solo exhibit in Germany this year, triggering outrage and amusement – and garnering support. It attracted quadruple the usual number of daily visitors in its first weeks open, more than any other in the museum’s history, according to museum staff. (Guestbook available here.)

  
Reports in outlets TAZ, Bild, Berliner Zeitung.

Political efforts to prevent the show and the daily German tabloids treated it as scandal. A prominent member of Chancellor Merkel’s party, Burkard Dregger spoke out against the exhibit nearly a month before it opened, describing it as “an expression of complete depravity” in Bild, Germany’s most widely read daily newspaper. Timur Husien, also of the CDU, initiated an action by city government to have the exhibition canceled. It was defeated by support from the Green and Left parties.

Defending the exhibit in the national outlet, N-TV, Hamburg University Professor Bettina Paul, Germany’s foremost expert on drug criminality, characterized the exhibit as "unique, [...] immanently important and courageous." In another defense of the exhibition, the editor of the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel, a well-known columnist Harald Martenstein, wrote in his Zeit Magazin column, “Of course it is legitimate to make an exhibition about dealers.”

Dr. Massimo Perinelli wrote in a review on the Rosa Luxemburg Institute website, “The discursive gap between the media incitement against ‘Black African dealers’ and the unadorned, plane descriptions of their places of origin creates a productive confusion, unfolding the very space needed for constructive debate.”

The exhibition is available to suitable venues for re-installation and local adaptation.

Other Homelands Exhibition Origins

Other Homelands is one in a series of exhibits, works, and interventions resulting from Scott Holmquist's ongoing research on the recent history of successful civil disobedience and rebellion in Berlin. The first exhibit in this cycle was Peace.Love.Insurgency., in 2013, in Washington, DC. It included mirrored future-museum floor plans and their artifacts. Later it was expanded to an in situ 2014 exhibition and intervention, The Third Wall and the Last Hero, in Berlin's Kreuzberg Museum. There, the empty plinth of a fallen future monument to park drug dealers, the “Last Hero” of the title, appeared. In a 2016 intervention, a formal proposal to the city for such a monument incited an international media sensation. At the invitation of the Kreuzberg Museum, research among the dealers in Görlitzer and Hasenheide Park became the exhibit here.

Exhibition Research – Individual Profiles / Media Collection

African-origin immigrants have become the public face of park drug dealers in Berlin as well as in other cities across Germany and Europe. Other Homelands – Origins and Migration Routes of Berlin Park Drug Sellers is an exhibition and research project which, among other goals, seeks to disrupt the peculiar hatred for drug dealers that has grown to become among the most tolerated forms of bigotry worldwide, a hatred that blends with, and often hides, everyday forms of racism. As a result, a large group of park drug sellers are not only openly – and with permission – hated as “dealers,” but are in addition denied the basic humanity of being from a real place – from another homeland.

Views of the Other Homelands Exhibition in Kreuzberg Museum.

The exhibition is built from two research efforts. One resulted in an expansive media collection on public drug dealing in Germany that reveals a range of dealer depictions and their public perception, many explicit in their construction of racist stereotypes. For the other, Holmquist surveyed dealers between 2015 and 2017 in Hasenheide and Görlitzer Parks, including with help from Gambian refugee-activist Moro Yapha.

To produce the final thirteen profiles, on a series of summer days and nights in 2017, Holmquist walked systematically by all park dealer-areas and approached all those who signified as dealers. The first thirteen to reveal their mother tongue, place of origin, and route to Europe were included in the project. Questions deliberately avoided all matters of private concern, like individual reasons for migration.

Exhibition’s Five Parts

For images, see Exhibition views

● Standing human silhouettes that function as displays, each containing maps, illustrations, and texts and that describe individual origins and migration routes of the surveyed drug sellers in their mother tongue, with German and English translations stacked at the figures' feet obliging visitors to bow.

● A media collection of more than 500 articles on public drug dealing in Germany (available here online) over the last twenty-five years displayed in image-only tableaus, panels of selected articles and a binder reading station.

● An online Travel Portal, accessible at a workstation, through which one could plan travel from Berlin to each of the subject dealers’ separate place of origin.

● A four-channel sound installation using sounds based on dealer origin locations, produced for the exhibition by Tom Ritchford, musician and sound artist.

● A prototype steel figure and architectural drawing depicting the outdoor installation of the exhibit human silhouettes in Berlin’s Viktoria and Görlitzer Parks.

Map Tipping and Panel Discussions

All exhibition maps were tipped to North to East, with West Africa featured at the top and center. Four panel discussions took place about racism, post-coloniality, and anti-drug dealer bigotries.

Press Superlatives and Attempted Censorship

At once playful and sober, the show has been the subject of more press reports than any solo exhibit in Germany this year, triggering outrage and amusement – and garnering support. It attracted quadruple the usual number of daily visitors in its first weeks open, more than any other in the museum’s history, according to museum staff. (Guestbook available here.)

  
Reports in outlets TAZ, Bild, Berliner Zeitung.

Political efforts to prevent the show and the daily German tabloids treated it as scandal. A prominent member of Chancellor Merkel’s party, Burkard Dregger spoke out against the exhibit nearly a month before it opened, describing it as “an expression of complete depravity” in Bild, Germany’s most widely read daily newspaper. Timur Husien, also of the CDU, initiated an action by city government to have the exhibition canceled. It was defeated by support from the Green and Left parties.

Defending the exhibit in the national outlet, N-TV, Hamburg University Professor Bettina Paul, Germany’s foremost expert on drug criminality, characterized the exhibit as "unique, [...] immanently important and courageous." In another defense of the exhibition, the editor of the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel, a well-known columnist Harald Martenstein, wrote in his Zeit Magazin column, “Of course it is legitimate to make an exhibition about dealers.”

Dr. Massimo Perinelli wrote in a review on the Rosa Luxemburg Institute website, “The discursive gap between the media incitement against ‘Black African dealers’ and the unadorned, plane descriptions of their places of origin creates a productive confusion, unfolding the very space needed for constructive debate.”

The exhibition is available to suitable venues for re-installation and local adaptation.

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