Am I next?

I was walking down Karl-Liebnecht-straße in Weimar yesterday. There are a couple of art galleries on that street as well as the City museum and the Bauhaus museum. You could say this is the Weimar art district if there was such a thing. I was on my way to 11m3 Projektraum, an exhibition space that my wife and I started some time ago (more on that later) when I saw something new on Tusche, an art gallery also on Karl-Liebnecht-Straße. It was handwritten white text on the window. It said: 

Kulturstadt?!     AFD=IHK?     Ausländerbehörde /= Ausländer 

This quasi-cryptic message was followed by a long letter taped to the window. This sparked my interest.

I started reading the letter and though I couldn’t really understand all of it at first, I translated the whole thing and I will now summarize the letter in a few bullet points:

  • Through the letter, the German consulate in China is denying Fuming Liu the visa to remain in Germany as Tusche gallery’s director.
  • The Erfurt chamber of commerce (IHK) declares after an inspection that there is no sufficient economic interest or regional need in the gallery.
  • After being questioned about the gallery, she could only state the names and tasks of the 2 former employees after looking at some documents which seemed suspicious to them given the small size of the business. She did not attach the work contracts of the alleged employees. 
  • The gallery managed to exceed the projected target of 5660 euro by making 8872 euro in the first year but then failed their target of 39.000 euro profit in the following year (2020) by just being able to make 2500 euro.
  • There are other galleries in Weimar that offer some of the same services as Tusche and therefore an economic interest is not evident.
  • Fuming Liu has insufficient knowledge of German or English, which is required by law, in order to be the legal representative of a company in the German market, operating in Germany, founded under German law and subject to German law.
  • Fuming Liu is over 45 years old and does not have an adequate pension fund according to her age.
  • She can appeal the decision of the consulate.

There is so much information there. Every decision leading up to the denial of the visa is supported by German law. Everything is lawful and yet laconic (awful?) for lack of a better word. As I was reading this letter it felt as if the letter was not addressed to Fuming Liu but to me, future me. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I can relate.

I can relate to being a gallery (project space) director, a foreigner with insufficient German knowledge, not making any money from the project and always submitting paperwork wrong (or incomplete). I can also relate on a professional level, a conceptual level if you will.

At 11m3 we did an exhibition in support of the victims of the Riots in Colombia in April 2021. We listed the number of casualties, unlawful arrests, sexual violence and dismemberments and wrote the numbers with a white marker on the glass. Very much like the writing on the window in Tusche Galerie. Our landlord asked us to take down the exhibition and not show any more art with political content. This does spark the question though: isn’t all art political? But let’s just leave at that for the sake of brevity. So through this censorship we (unwillingly) enlisted our landlord as one of our de facto curators.  

In the letter the Erfurt chamber of commerce (IHK) stated there is no commercial interest in the gallery. In other words, the gallery is not interesting or put another way, the art exhibited in the gallery is uninteresting. This sounds dangerously close to the trade of art curation. The curator usually decides what is interesting to see in an exhibition space and what is not, what goes with what, what goes in, what goes out.

The parallels just keep piling up. My family is due to ask for a renewal of our residence permit and they just canceled my neighbors’. Am I next?

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