Project „Imaginäres Hotel“ (1994)

Collective exhibition project „Imaginäres Hotel“ (Imaginary Hotel) took place at Kunsthalle Elsterpark and in an abolished factory hall of the former VEB Buntgarnwerke company in Leipzig.

Organizer: Internationale Gesellschaft der bildenen Künste (IGBK), Bonn

Dates: 2nd of July – 14th of August 1994

Project by Pavel Smetana, ironically titled “Ferienheim für K.M.“ (Summer Resort for K.M.), had three parts which in various ways developed the themes of surveillance and monitoring people in a totalitarian space. A summer resort, subjected to harsh surveillance, was about to change into the place of retirement for East German secret police veterans.

a) Ferienheim/Bunker (Summer Resort/Bunker). Video Installation.

The assemblage of scenes recapitulating German history from fascist and communist periods related to one particular industrial space. The projection was shown on a TV monitor placed in a niche which had been partially damaged by a bomb.

b) Ferienheim/Sitzungsraum (Summer Resort/Boardroom). Video Installation.

furniture, video installation, pieces of zinc, sand-stone tiles

The installation consisted of one big conference table with leather armchairs in a room with walls coated with zinc plates. Outside, above the entrance into the factory object, a hidden surveillance camera monitored visitors ascending the staircase and its image was transmitted onto one of the two monitors on the table. The nuclear shelter was guarded by military patrol with dogs during the opening.

c) Bibliotheque d‘Odeurs (Installacion olfactive) /Library of Odors (Olfactory installation)

wooden racks, jars, ceramic tiles, pieces of clothing

„Sometime in January 1990 I incidentally laid hands on photography from the archives of German secret police in Leipzig in which the glass smell cans with pieces of fabric were depicted which used to belong to some dissidents. I decided to make my own exhibition of human smells. I sent requests in envelopes across the whole world; I addressed people from the cultural sphere – famous critics, artists and gallery owners. I finally received back about five hundred samples of T-shirts or underclothes which I consequently exhibited as Library of Odours. (From the interview with Pavel Sedlák for Literární noviny).

In addition to the historical basis of the creation of “smell cans” of monitored persons by German secret police, the inspiration was also taken from the novel „Perfume: The Story of a Murderer“ by Patrick Süskind, horror story about a young man whose obsession with inventing a perfect perfume leads to murders. The interconnection of smell and monitoring gained an appealing visual shape in the installation because the physical objects, jars, which concentrated the smell were exhibited with explanatory letters describing the origin of each smell and the method used to obtain it. Jars were marked with labels with the name of the “author” of the smell which the visitors were able to wonder about on the basis of the things in the glass and readable pieces of the letters.

The installation was also exhibited at the individual artist’s exhibition in Cité des Artes.

Exhibition catalogue (pages 82-86)

Photos from the exhibition space


Cimaise – p. 53 (front + article)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – articles

Symposium catalogue (front + article)


Ferienheim/Sitzungsraum (Furnishings, video, installation, sheets of zinc, tiles)
Library of Smells in Leipzig
Library of Smells in Leipzig - Shelves
Katalog výstavy - titulní strana
Katalog výstavy - strana 82
Katalog výstavy - strana 83
Kreuzer, 1994/07

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