It was night, a few blocks from the apartment where I was staying, lost in the streets of a small town called Halle, in Germany. Suddenly I looked up and saw an image like something out of a dream.
A huge building stood before me and from it came many strange characters: the philosophers Marx and Engels, the theologian and revolutionary Thomas Müntzer, Mickey Mouse, a Punky, the musician Händel, a man on stilts, the McDonald’s clown, an Egyptian statue, a giant hamburger balancing act.
They all moved around me without noticing my presence.
I stood there for a moment watching the show and convinced that what I was seeing was an illusion of cold and beer. I tried to make my way back to the apartment.
With the image in my head I went to sleep and the next morning I went out to walk the nearby streets in search of the scene. I went round and round, again and again I walked the little streets with no result.
Really what I had seen the night before was simply a figment of my imagination.
But how was it possible that all those images were crammed into my head?
The more I thought about the matter, the clearer the images became: I had seen a half-naked woman looking out of a window, a prostitute next to a Coca Cola poster, a carnival mask, workers, an old building being transformed into a contemporary building, I had seen the Himalayas in the distance.
The next day I got lost again, I couldn’t find the building where I was stopping, almost all of them were the same and the streets in Halle are a maze.
I turned a corner and there was the image from the night before. It wasn’t an illusion, was it? I wondered if the mural was appearing and disappearing like a maze of mirrors.
The mural is called “Stad” (city) and is also known as “The wall of illusion“.
It was made by the German painter Hans Joachim Triebsch in 1988 on a windowless gable wall in Große Klausstraße in Halle.
The mural contains numerous metaphors and symbols that refer to the political and social mood in the late 1980s in Germany. It depicts a period of radical change in a theatrical and at the same time wonderfully critical way, mixing history from the illusion of the German past and present.
So one cold winter morning, we interviewed Hans Joachim Triebsch in front of his play. Among other things, he told us that he had not visited the mural for a long time, that he had to restore it several times. One of those times was after a big fire in one of the buildings that destroyed a large part of the work but meant a new version.
He talked about the meaning of each of the characters, that he was excited to see the Himalayas from Halle, about the paradigm shift that capitalism meant in the past and what it means in the present.
He spoke of the importance of mirrors in painting and that Diego Velázquez, influenced this work (one of the walls of the painted buildings reflects the other building).
Since I don’t understand German, I was actually told what he said.
From his voice, my imagination and the series of photographs you are looking at I composed “Die Wand der Illusion”.
I was in Halle for three months, I confess that after the piece was done, I wanted to return several times to the place where the mural was, I didn’t always succeed. As if by a spell it kept appearing and disappearing at will.
I asked if anyone else had this problem, and to my surprise, she wasn’t the only one.
Another interesting feature of the mural is the mention of Geiststraße 8 in Halle. I looked for the place on the map and went there: the street exists, it is the section of an important avenue.
However, just where No. 8 should be located, there is a tree that leads to another street. Geiststraße means “The Ghost Street”.
In that small line that separates illusion from reality, I decided to record at least the soundscape of this non-existent place devised by Hans Joachim Triebsch.
This work belongs to the album: Halle Klang Karte
Conducted during the Radio Art Residency at Radio Corax 2018
℗ All rights reserved
Author: Sol Rezza
Editor | Corrector: Franco Falistoco