Berliner Economy – Grounded and Taking Off!

by Helmut Höge

The director Robert Bramkamp and the artist Susanne Weirich have once again tackled the dilemma of the contradictions inherent between localism and globalization. This dilemma is more pressing than ever. It reveals itself foremost in the disintegration of the national economy and in the transnational evolution of business management while the state and nation, still chained to the territorial and having no other recourse but to also act in the style of business management; thus they sell off the “family heirlooms” (the infrastructure) on the one hand and, on the other, conduct absurd “locational policies” all the way down to the regions and communities.

One socialization dilemma remains to be questioned: How can one immobilize (anchor) oneself and simultaneously experience the world (internationalism)? For Bramkamp/Weirich, the answer to this question initially began with a small excursion through the countryside. On one such excursion, halfway to Frankfurt Oder they stumbled upon a lake where poets and intellectuals—such as Maxim Gorky, for example—used to like to take their vacations. Nowadays the nouvelle rich of Berlin have transplanted themselves there, at the Scharmützel Lake close to Bad Saarow, along with golf and tennis courses as well as clubs and private lofts.

But at the end of the lake, in the direction of the Small and Great Glubig Lake, there is still—as described by the Federal Foundation for Culture—the old “socialist microcosm ‘Wendisch-Rietz Lakeside Sports Club'” where one can still make one’s sailing license using the double-mast, still-not-officially-recognized GDR cutters. And this is what the two Berliner freelancers did. Thus the two anchored themselves there, at least in their free time. But then, financed by Arte and others, they showed up with an entire film team and filmed the club—which is already almost suffering the throes of death—and those active there, creating a docu-fiction whose central idea is now being propagated in the Internet.

In the film, the actor Schortie Scheumann plays Enki, the Sumerian god of creation, who has more or less been projected into the Scharmützel Lake topography and is also working at the club as a participant of a work provision program. In encyclopedias Enki is listed as one of the half-anthropomorphic “chthonian gods of the underworld” whose abdomen tapers off into a boat. He is considered a “bringer of civilization,” and it is also said of him that “All the different aspects of the individual city gods employed by him are united in Enki himself.”
What this specifically means for Scharmützel Lake is that he is allotting a growing numbers of “me” there and, in turn, when in operation, they express themselves as specific “capabilities” which can be communicated via the Internet (among other ways).

As a whole, a “narrative project” is being dealt with here—and with that, actually, art. In contrast, for example, to many Internet concepts at the Transmediale Festival—where Bramkamp’s work was also introduced—this project is primarily grounded (anchored) and does not need to struggle through its commoditization to get recognition and/or “clicks”.
For the premiere of the film The Boat God of the Lakeside Sports Club in Duisburg, a shuttle service was supplied by the club. In the Internet, the project is now expanding itself to include other “localisms” such as the Scharmützel Lake fishermen, the local Honda dealer who services the boat motors of the club, as well as the Neuzelle brewery Klosterbrauerei (which has named a beer brand after the “Grand Ameliorant” Enki).

On the other hand, since the project is also about “as many different narrative perspectives as possible” (as Robert Bramkamp says), a growing number of “internationalisms” are also coming into play: Archeologists specializing on the Mesopotamia, for example, as well as various art groups. The project “Enki100.Net” is unlimited in how far it can rise, but when looking down it focuses on the virtual powers that contribute to the preservation and expansion of the social topography of the Lakeside Sports Club Association. This spans from sponsoring (Klosterbrauerei) to “the best table of books” (b-books), from the individual memberships to the water analysis of a limnological institute, and onwards to the shared battle against the Röhrichtschutzgesetz (Reeds Protection Act).

All these network participants appear as me in the Internet and are listed by number; the identification numbers, in turn, can be found again in the swamps and reeds of Scharmützel Lake, where they are more or less located around the club house. In one way the club thus regains its connection to the world it apparently lost following the end of the GDR, and in another way, the world (or that which claims to be it) is more or less grounded at Scharmützel Lake. And thus should be avoided, that which the Bavarian filmmaker Herbert Achternbusch once complained about: “There where Weilheim and Passau once were, is now world… The world has destroyed those places.” In Berlin, one stumbles upon such black holes every other step—places liquidated by the world, as well as those that have sunk into oblivion due to absent or disappearing links to the world. “World class” is a question of capital expenditure (either as a shy deer or as a voracious locust); in the narrative project Lakeside Sports Club of Scharmützel Lake, in contrast to the Recreation Center Bad Saarow, symbolic capital comes into play most of all. The participants are optimistic.

Translated by Bryin Abraham

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Erscheinungsdatum 1.6.2006, S. 27, 120 Z.