Pedestrians can read the exhibition programme of the art collection of North Rhine-Westphalia on the front of the museum K20 in Düsseldorf. Only well-known artists, their names and exhibition titles are written there in big letters. In July 2014, there were names like Gerhard Richter, Alexander Calder, Kandinsky, Malewitsch, Olafur Eliasson and Bruce Nauman.
On the 2nd of July 2014 however, (a very sunny Wednesday), I smuggled my name Antje Seeger between all of these celebrities. Furthermore, I added the title Namedropping and the date since 02.07.2014. The words were fixed with adhesive film and the letters looked similar to the letters usually used by the museum itself. The action took place without permission.
I started at 10:15 am. A lot of people passed me. Other people sat on adjacent benches and were looking at this performance and me. It took me about 20 minutes to fix the letters on the wall.
Nobody interrupted me.
My performance was captured by three video cameras. One person was someone I had asked to film the performance. The other ones were attached on buildings about 4 metres over my head. These cameras observed the area where I was working. I imagine their recordings existed on monitors inside the museum. I try to imagine the person who has to look at these monitors and imagine that he is a male security officer. How did he feel on this day, sitting in front of screen that always shows the same images?
The screens in front of him showing visitors and museum-keepers criss-cross the square of the monitor. From time to time someone stops in front of an artwork. After a few seconds he or she continues his or her walk. Sometimes nobody can be seen on the screen. I ask myself, does the security officer have a favourite screen?
Maybe the screen shows an area where visitors like to linger in front of a special picture and perhaps there are visitors that spend the whole day looking at only one work – perhaps in front of a painting by Gerhard Richter? What does the security officer think about such people? Is there any such screen on which more happens than on any other? Maybe two people argue about art and it leads to a heated discussion? Or perhaps someone has had a heart attack in front of Dan Flavin’s neon lights? Do pickpockets work in museums?
I ask myself, are there visitors who wave their hands in front of the security camera? Or perhaps none of this happens and there are no heart attacks, no laughs or tears, or cries and kisses and no thieves because perhaps ordinary life does not take place inside of a German museum.
Maybe there are a few visitors who wave their hands in front of a security camera? But does the officer recognize these gestures? Or does he not even notice anymore, so accustomed to the grey flickering images of his monitor. I ask myself, did the security officer notice my intervention on 2nd July? Did he not wonder, what I did on the wall and why someone was making other video recordings? Perhaps he didn’t even notice me amongst the other names.
Antje Seeger is a visual artist based in Dresden. In 2012 she received her diploma in Visual Art from the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig, Germany. She works site-specifically and in a variety of media such as object, text, photo, video, installation and performance. Often her work is motivated by personal experiences and she is always interested in the relationships between social values, conventions of behaviour and her own role as an artist.