A Game of Chess out of Sand with historical connection to the location
With the question: “On which ground do we stand” I go to the beach of a small Baltic Sea port called Rerik. Despite the fact that in GDR times beach-goers could see the West when visibility was good, it was out of reach for them or a game with death or prison if they tried to escape. With the chess installation on the shore of the steep coast, I would like to use the cross-generational strategy game to remind people of the importance that the Baltic Sea beach had for GDR citizens during the time of the Wall.
The figures of the chess game are made of the sand of this beach and were hardened with casein. They represent figures or objects that now or then lingered on this beach for a variety of reasons. The intention of the installation is to engage in conversation with vacationers and visitors to the beach and keep history alive through conversation and playing together.
|Location of inspiration:||Rerik, Baltic Sea|
|Method of manufacturing:||– Positive mould: 3D printing (PLA)|
– Negative mould: Thermoforming (PVC, 0.3mm)
– Sand is pressed into negative mould
|Temporal aspect:||2.5 weeks (duration of a summer holiday)|
full concept text
The Baltic resort Rerik – a municipality in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. In summer, tourists enjoy the sun, sea and beach here – in winter, a sleepy fishing village. In high season, the beach is a hive of activity, the sand is paved with towels, all the beach chairs are occupied and people splash around in the Baltic Sea. In the midst of all this bathing fun, the historical context is often not taken into account. This tells a special story. With the guiding question of the semester: “On what ground are we actually standing?” I would like to address, in relation to the location, the strong contrast between past and present. What kind of sand are people actually standing on here? Experts estimate that between the construction of the Wall in August 1961 and November 9, 1989, there were at least 5600 escape attempts across the Baltic Sea to West Germany or Denmark. From here, the beach of Rerik, you can see Fehmarn and even Denmark on a good day. The “over there” of that time – a place of longing for GDR citizens striving for freedom – seemed within reach, although separated by many kilometers of sea. The “fugitives,” as they were called by the GDR authorities, tried to make it by swimming, using air mattresses, homemade surfboards or, in the winter of 1962, by bicycle across the Baltic Sea ice. All kinds of propulsion constructions were built, all with the simplest of means. Many of the attempts failed, border guards patrolled on land and water, some simply never reappeared.
My idea is to create parallels to the past time with an installation at the site and to arouse interest. As a medium of the times I have chosen the chess set. The up to 48 cm high figures made of sand (hardened by casein) invite interaction with other beach visitors, draw attention to the past through their shape and arouse interest to investigate. The field can be easily drawn in the sand. One side of the chess set acts as the past tense of the beach, the other represents the present tense of the vacationers. The shaping is crucial in this case. The figures carry with them what the people in this place also carry, or have carried. Be it the binoculars of a border guard (past), the sand shovel of a child (present) or the flippers of a refugee (past). Playing on the beach should stimulate conversations with friends or even strangers. What is the meaning of these figures? Why are they standing in this place? Why are they facing each other?
The game is also suitable because it is often seen as a parable of human life, one must have courage for decisions, otherwise one loses directly.
At the same time, one’s plans must have a hand and a foot.
Also, in a way, a conflict between the past and the present is presented. One cannot force anyone to deal with the culture and history of the traveled place during the vacation. Nevertheless, it is important to make it possible to experience what happened here up to 32 years ago.