das schloss

The „Central Contact Point for Asylum Seekers“ of the State of Saxony-Anhalt is located on the outskirts of Halberstadt. Up to 900 people live on the former barracks grounds of the NVA border troops, which have served as a first reception centre for refugees since the 1990s. The allocation of migrants and refugees to the federal states is carried out by the software EASY, which carries out the distribution according to the so-called „Königstein Key“, which is recalculated every year and is based on the population and tax revenues. For Saxony-Anhalt, this means the admission of about 3% of the refugees arriving in Germany. The registration is the starting point for the asylum procedure, which takes on average half a year, but can be delayed by uncertainties or obstacles. From Halberstadt, the refugees and migrants are distributed to refugee accommodations in the towns or districts that are not part of a district, or they are accommodated decentrally.

The work on the series „das Schloss“ began when Bruns took up a position for public relations work in a city administration. The still lifes show inanimate rooms whose standardized ceilings, walls and floors expose partly bizarre, partly abstract signs of human presence. The double floor of apparent imperfection reveals a view of practicality trimmed to the highest possible degree. They are rooms of transit, where applications, forms and documents are filled out, processed and passed on to the next higher authority, thus passing through the opaque apparatus of bureaucracy, which already here mutates into a branched abstraction, the totality of which is no longer tangible. What began for Bruns as a profane means of earning a living became a distillate of daily documentation and performative staging when he was asked to realize a photo project with refugees from the „Central Contact Point for Refugees“. The photos of the refugees show the other side of the power apparatus of administration. As different as the living conditions may be, the principles on which they are based are similar. The barrier between the two poles is impermeable and is kept running by the decentralized machinery of bureaucracy. There is no hidden power that can be fought, only ever new branches that get lost in nowhere and still want to be kept alive. The actors on both sides are connected in a state of waiting, and yet the discrepancy of the goal could not be greater: Here it is the end of the day and there the future.

Bruns‘ self-portraits were created during the work, hourly over a period of three months, the duration of the photographic project: repetitive gestures and actions, the return of the eternally same. The pictures reveal nothing about the individual, nor the rooms or activities performed. We see empty spaces that struggle with photography’s claim to reality. Nothing is created or emerges and only nuances are subject to change. Public relations presents itself as the true cement of the system, whose open threads are thus brought together in the fiction of a continuous whole.

„Das Schloss“ attempts to transcend this unity and is concerned not least with photographic perceptiveness and imaging ability. It examines the role of the photographer, as an acting subject that moves in an indeterminate state between presence and absence. The documentary process is presented as a one-sided gesture of appropriation, which exchanges the home desk for an adventure for a while. 

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