The Kindness of Strangers
For his first ever UK show, Stefan Roloff displays his most recent video installation ‘The Kindness of Strangers’. In it, the German-American artist who emigrated to New York in 1982 portrays the stories of two refugees – a Sudanese woman and an Iranian man. Both participated in the public occupation of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate Tourist Centre in a bid to gain awareness about the inhumane treatment of political and religious refugees in German refugee “camps”. In the installation, viewers enter a tent, patched together from old, slightly off-white rags. In its windows, the two refugees tell their stories – as silhouettes to protect them from persecution.
Further works in this show of portraits in various media include: ‘Face’, a moving painting that evolves in front of the viewer’s eyes. Produced in 1984 by Peter Gabriel, it was the prototype for his video ‘Sledgehammer’. ‘Let there be Light’ are moving stained glass windows in which people from all continents simultaneously describe their ideal world in 30 languages. ‘Prinz Albrecht Str. 8’ deals with his father, Helmut Roloff’s enforced detention by the Gestapo as a resistance fighter against the Nazis.
Recently, Roloff produced 60 interviews with former citizens of East Germany which provide an authentic look at life behind the Iron Curtain. The video ‘Birgit W’ is one of them.