Two floral arrangements with living specimens of plants that are depicted on wallpapers of the interrogation rooms of former Stasi-prison Berlin-Hohenschönhausen.

The prison had a total of 120 interrogation rooms, more than actual cells. 37 rooms are currently accessible, others are sealed for reconstruction. Nearly all of these rooms have wallpapers with floral patterns, in total 16 distinct designs, 13 of which are floral. Whether or not the wallpaper designs where intentionally chosen, they clearly had a purpose and meaning, be it given or acquired, appropriated and entangled in the gruesome history of this place.

Snowdrop - Galanthus nivalis (Room 280)

Barley - Hordeum vulgare (Room 271, 276, 279, 286)

Hooded Dwarf Elephant Ear - Alocasia cucullata (Room 184, 275, 284)

Tansy - Tanacetum vulgare (Room 274, 180)

The work was produced specifically for the exhibition Unter Palmen, ein U-Boot* (Under Palm Trees, a Submarine) at Villa Heike, Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, 2019.

* Villa Heike, originally, a representative part of a machine-building factory from 1911, bordered a park where palm trees grew. The Villa was included in the territory of the Stasi prison, today the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial, where windowless basement cells were referred to by prisoners as the ‘submarine’. During the GDR period, the building served as the administrative headquarters of the Ministry of State Security and later as an archive of the Nazi period.

2019 | plants, numbered key ring pendants, nails, wooden rods

Special thanks to Georg Groeger, Clara Westphal, Anya Hübschle, Till Schneider, and Idaho Botanical Garden.

All content © Uli Westphal. Please respect the copyright.