Mi tío abuelo estuvo aquí antes (My Great-uncle was here before)

Juana Awad

2012, 17:52 minutes, colour, Spanish with English Subtitles


In this video I counterpose image and sound to read my new surroundings in Berlin through the connection of its history and mine.

I interview my great-uncle Jose Elias Awad about his Berlin years (late 50's to late 60's), when he was finishing his doctorate in Economics at the Humboldt University in East Berlin. General Secretary of the Colombian Communist Party at the time, Jose Elias married Esther Bloss and on the day of their wedding in the Sudeten he left to help build the Berlin Wall. He told off Che for not having read Marx, hung out with Tamara Bunke and advised against the rise up in arms of the newly founded guerrilla group ELN (National Liberation Army) in Colombia. In 1968 he returned to Colombia after being expelled from the Party, and grew apart from his children, because of geographical distance and political ideology.

Jose Elias words resonate while images of my environment describe my life, and give testimony of a displaced Utopia: Prenzlauerberg, where I live, is a former East Berlin neighbourhood now highly gentrified; Alexanderplatz is surrounded by Sales posters and seems more a discount market than the former metropolitan centre of a socialist state; the Mauer Park (Wall Park), now hosts tourists and city dwellers and appears as the perfect place for a chic impromptu Pussy Riot Protest, lead by an electro punk icon.

Contradictions abound and new forms of relating and thinking about space and strategies for being emerge.

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