The Sun Sets at Teufelsberg
Letter of Permission/Statement
Berlin, Germany. 2009
Dear Mr. David Lynch,
I hope that this letter finds you well.
I wanted to let you know that I have taken the liberty of doing a project in the Teufelsberg Towers. I understand that you own them with the intention of building a University for Transcendental Meditation there but have been barred from pursuing your plans by the German Government. My work does not have anything to do with transcendental meditation but it is the attempt to inhabit this place. Created as a forward listening post for the Allies with its audio-gaze pointed towards Soviet Russia, the Cold War of defined borders is now over. Stripped of its function the ra-dome structures made to be invisible disintegrate. This allows this place to be many places at once. I am taking account of these aggregate spaces and moments I’ve come across in my adventuring there.
Using materials found completely at the towers I am working to clarify these moments that make up this place. In the cafe hangs a real-estate sign for “Resort Teufelsberg” and the floor follows the contours of the Teufelsberg Plateau, a hill made of 400,000 bombed out homes ontop of Hitler’s University of Transcen… I mean Military Technology. The Cafe is the only wooden structure in the place and supporting the structure are long beams of charred lumber. We are rotating parts of the building to other parts to create some of these pieces, for instance the steel and ceramic tub we found has incredible acoustic qualities so it now sits on the radio antenna platform in the main dome where the tonal qualities of both can be explored. I found only one solid pane of glass remaining in all of the buildings but I did gather the cubes of broken safety glass and made a bed room out of it.
Working this way however, only makes sense if you take things back also to where they belong. 200 feet down and 600 feet away we found a half circle of carpet and brought it back to the 4th floor of the tower where it fits perfectly. The cut canvas skinning the tower takes the form of curtains and its carpet brings it up to the NSA standards of a live-work space. Besides having a past and a present it must also have a future. There are five domes at the site but there were plans for a sixth. Its base is completed and its bolts wait to anchor a dome that never arrived. We hit play on this process and created that sixth dome.
I also took the liberty of inviting a guest, a fellow artist Charles Stankievech, to create a piece for Teufelsberg. At 20:00 we will launch a model of a V2 rocket in the main dome. Turns out that the same year that the DEW line radar stations went online they were made obsolete by the launch of the Soviet Sputnik. History is compressed and this scenario is replayed inside of the Main Dome.
By the time you receive this letter the work will have been over. I didn’t ask for you permission but I hope for your have a smiling approval. Wishing all the best to you on your work Mr. Lynch.
Haseeb Ahmed in collaboration with Charles Stankievech and Oliver Jahn
D.E.V.I.L. is the second project in a series that takes the abandoned American Teufelsberg radar station in (what was) West Berlin, Germany as its object. Teufelsberg was part of a daisy-chain of radar stations created to monitor Soviet ballistics and bomber patrols. The technology deployed in the DEW line stations was developed at the MIT RadLabs.
D.E.V.I.L. recreates the Teufeslberg Radar Station at the site of its origin- MIT. Here two different strategies of retrieval are employed:
remote sensing and remote viewing.
Using the Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Studies Department Visualization Wall at MIT we cycled a comprehensive set of images from Teufelsberg. From these images remote viewers began to create schematic drawings of the site which they had never visited themselves. Having relayed Teufelsberg over thousands of miles back to MIT- the site of the stations origin, we loaded the drawings into a model V2 rocket. We then moved outdoors to a classic greco-roman amphitheater couched in Frank Gehry’s Stata Center which we retrofitted to become a launch site. The launch of the rocket marked the successful retrieval of Teufelsberg only to have it sent back into the oblivion in-between its site of reception and origination, between Berlin and MIT, 1989 and 2010.
Haseeb Ahmed is an artist whose production includes site-specific installations, discrete and designed objects. His research based art-practice straddles architecture, curatorial practice, and critical theory. Haseeb Ahmed is also a founding member of the Platypus, a group dedicated to the re-formulation of radical Left politics in the present.
Haseeb holds a Masters of Science in Visual Studies from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a BA in Visual and Critical Studies, and a BFA in architecture and sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has exhibited work in Germany, Switzerland, Israel, Turkey, and the United States including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.