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Texts by Oscar Tuazon and Stefania Palumbo
Design: NODE Berlin Oslo
Torpedo Press 2011
An Aggregation of Adversary
At the heart of Engh’s practice is an interest in the polymorph – the capacity of an object to take on different identities and functions depending on its context. Engh’s work goes far beyond mere documentation of the place and its scenarios to grasp the subjects of his search by creating clones of the original. In the process, he conquers new points of view and new conceptions of the «things» that belong to reality and experience. This process of re-creating what is real is a precise attempt to scan the spirit and history that objects carry with them and, at the same time, an attempt to abstract them from their original context, to exhibit them in new circumstances by seeking an unexpressed potential in them.
“The photographic series Lead, Follow or Get the Hell Out of the Way and the sculptural works in An Aggregation of Adversary focuses on fragments of a history charged with an almost excessive emotive impact. Engh’s interest focuses precisely on the capacity that this place has had to accumulate historical meaning through the various episodes directly involved in its creation. Teufelsberg (Devil’s Hill) is an artificial mound standing on what was supposed to be the flagship project of Third Reich architect, Albert Speer, for a grandiose, new Berlin Technical University, the foundation stone for which was laid by Adolf Hitler in 1937. Only one faculty of the entire complex was ever developed and, at the end of the Second World War, various attempts were made to demolish it. According to Speer’s theory of the «value of ruins», had it been destroyed, it would have retained its dignity as a monumental construction, leaving behind it an indelible mark of its own greatness. Instead, it was decided to bury it with the remains of more than 80,000 buildings bombed by the Allies in Berlin, thereby creating the highest point in the city. As if this were not enough, during the years of the Cold War, The United States decided to locate the National Security Agency listening station on the Devil’s Hill. Over the years, it stood as the diametric opposite of French anthropologist, Marc Augé’s concept of non-place, its state of abandon suggested various new uses, from a hotel complex to a meditation centre. According to Marius Engh, such a concentration of new uses brings the very concept of ruin into question. The objects that belonged to this place and bore witness to its history are so charged with memory that they may be considered as saturated and be returned to nature, thereby absolving them of the last function left to them – that is as custodians of memory and, as such, a vehicle for healing. “
Based on excerpts from the text Devils, Werewolves and Other Myths by Stefania Palumbo.