Witness is a site-specific project in the Viehauktionshalle (Cattle Auction Hall) in Weimar, Germany. The ground area of the building is 35 × 70 meters and 25 meters high. Up to 3000 people can fit inside. Its unique wooden lightweight construction means the entire interior space is column free. According to records, this hall was (at the time of this installation) the biggest building in Weimar with a light roof.
To preserve its history the Viehauktionshalle was recently designated as a historic landmark. Despite this designation, in 2014 the building sits in a state of decay and trash, littered with broken glass and VHS tapes. It is also forbidden to enter the building. I spent several afternoons at the site doing my own investigation, collecting materials around the building and taking photographs. Spending time alone there I felt as if I were trespassing onto the site of a crime, always looking over my shoulder. I wanted to give viewers a similar feeling, that they were experiencing something forbidden.
I installed a small peephole into one of the doors facing inwards and marked it with fluorescent pink paint. The peephole flattens and miniaturizes the scene behind the glass. What you see when you look through the peephole is a vision of the the Viehauktionshalle building as you’ve never seen it before. It is dark inside but there are many small holes in the roof, through the glass this appears as a beautiful starscape.
Framed photographs lean against the wall outside of the door. These photographs are displayed in discarded window frames I found scattered around the building. The photographs are Xerox copied reproductions which were taken at the exact site where they are placed. The largest photograph shows the steps leading up to the broken door and against the door leans an empty window frame. This is the same frame, in the same position, that now displays this photograph. There is a type of manipulation of time as we see a photo of a photo which has been placed back into it’s original setting.
In 2015 the Viehauktionshalle burned down. *According to official reports the fire was started by a group of teenagers.