Undocumented migrants – frequently labelled »illegals« – are an invisible element of German society. Although they clean our flats, take care of our ailing parents or grandparents and have become in many respects indispensable, they have neither residence permits nor work permits; for this reason they make every effort to remain hidden and live unnoticed.
In her new work, Bettina Lockemann deals with these forms of living. It focuses on people’s daily instability and their struggle to remain invisible and take nothing for granted. In the course of this daily routine, crossing the street when the traffic light is red can pose a threat. On the other hand, waiting patiently in a deserted street for the light to go green is likewise suspicious.
Bettina Lockemann explores the rules and paths of this invisibility. Centre stage is the relationship between »illegals« and the city. The danger of being discovered lurks everywhere. The image of the urban environment is altered. Constantly scanned for signals and risks, it loses its sense of being home – which it is to many »legals«. But the city also provides an element of security. Undocumented migrants are not immediately obvious among the many other foreigners. It is here that »illegals« hope most to find support, this is where they can make use of networks.
Cologne is the object of Bettina Lockemann’s investigation. Immigrants are invisible here; the city becomes a homeless place in Lockemann’s images. The area around the main railway station, for example: the international bus terminal constitutes a point of arrival for migrants. At the same time the station itself is a danger zone, since ad hoc police checks are common occurrences, making it necessary to avoid the area whenever possible; the mere presence of security personnel produces flight reflexes.
This aspect likewise represents a loss for city and society: the photographed places remain unspecific, unstable. The current exhibition at the Loris Gallery documents an intermediate stage of »work in progress«.
press information | February 2011 | Loris - Galerie für zeitgenössische Kunst