ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Pooneh Maghazehe
* 1979 in New York (US), lives and works in New York (US)

Artist Statement

“[…] even if stones are movable, relationships between stones and men are not so easily altered. […] Habits related to a specific physical setting resist the forces tending to change them.“
Maurice Halbwachs, On Collective Memory

Pooneh Maghazehe’s research begins at the intersection between individual decision and built environment. The thresholds between object and ideology, habit and habitat, are always in flux and sometimes interdependent. In her work, signifiers that point to repeated decisions, personal affinities, and displays of logic are catalysts for focused inquiries – they create the opportunity to study underlying issues of class, political attitudes and historical specificity. The gold leafing of abandoned belongings, revealing the construction of a late father’s decades-old recliner, the reshuffling of strayed construction bricks toward the direction of evening prayer.
Built environments center on order. Order reveals decision. Decision reveals belief.
Maghazehe works both as an instigator and opportunist in these liminal spaces, with the hope of exposing a lattice of personal realities and, through them, an idea of a collective conscience.

Sandbox (work in progress), 2011
HD video (color, silent, 8 min), piano, sculpture, dimensions variable
Camera and editing in collaboration with Martin Lorenz
Sculpture in collaboration with Silke Fehsenfeld
Courtesy of the artist
Produced in Cooperation with ZKM | Center for Art and Media, artist-in-residence program of the exhibition The Global Contemporary (2011)

D.W. Griffith was the first American filmmaker commissioned to shoot a movie in a war zone. His film, Hearts of the World (1918), depicts the story of two young lovers, ripped apart by the perturbations of the First World War. It was produced during the era when developments in photography and cinema began inspiring advancements in war technology and strategy. The film was commissioned by Great Britain, an effort to gain allied American support in the First World War. A significant portion of Hearts of the World was shot on the British war front, the battle scenes actual, and, the complexities of the war heavily impacted production of the film. Army cameramen shot scenes; Griffith experienced surprise German artillery barrages and witnessed the deaths of escort soldiers. The final film, part war footage and rest staged, severely impacted Griffith. Nonetheless, it was well received by the American audience.
Sandbox was shot in a vacant lot that was formerly the Karlsruhe DWM* munitions factory, renowned leader in handguns during the release of Hearts of the World. DWM armed soldiers worldwide with artillery that powered both world wars. As such, the empty pit, partially concealed by the crisp contours of a manicured lawn and protected by surrounding residential buildings and the ZKM, became an open anchor, an activated gap – the "sandbox" as an unrestricted game environment. The initial motivations for Sandbox were to personify the dependent relationship between the rise of filmmaking and the advance of war technology through the bonds between Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, and Robert Harron in Hearts of the World.
Sandbox harbors a thick trace of incestuous history, an irresistible magnetic field of longing between two lovers.

The sandbox is heterotopic.
The sandbox is mimetic.
The sandbox is longing.
The sandbox is void.
The sandbox is trench.
The sandbox is hiccup.
The sandbox is archive.
The sandbox is desire.
The sandbox is grief.

* (Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken Aktien-Gesellschaft / German Weapons and Munitions public limited company),
** The term "sandbox" is used in game design to describe virtual environments that do not impose barriers or linear narratives on the players, but are open to various forms of interaction – inasmuch as this is allowed by the game's software.

During the running time of the exhibition pianist Anna Zassimova will accompany the installation with live music performances.

Performance dates (at 4 p.m.):
2011 / November: 4, 11, 18, 25
2011 / December: 9, 16,
2012 / January: 13, 20, 29
2012 / February: 3

Coquette’s Cusp (Act 1, Scene 1)

Coquette’s Cusp (Act 1, Scene 1), 2010
digitaler C-Print, 76 × 101,5 cm, Edition 1/5,
courtesy Pooneh Maghazehe


Sandbox (work in progress), 2011 (Still)