Walls are the manifestation of an Inside and an Outside, a zone in front of it and a zone behind it. They separate one area from another and block ones view. A composition of walls defines a space, which may seem absolute to those inside. Neutral walls and smooth surfaces become nearly invisible (though they are always there). In recognizing the wall as a boundary the other side becomes a mystery. The wall is also an impulse to imagine a possible “behind”. Permeable and movable walls refuse the duality of inside/outside. Creases of the surface make the wall visible, they unveil depth and open up its own spaciousness. A small gap gives an inkling of what might be there without grasping it. What happens if walls are marked and their surfaces worked on?
Walls as a metaphor are a starting point for less physical and rather socially constructed spaces, transitions and zones. The more normative , the harder it becomes to perceive the walls. Quiet “naturally” they determinate actions. To work on their smooth surfaces makes them more visible. Walls can be moved, perforated, grasped and questioned: What goes beyond, what passes through them? We (team2 = Irène Mélix & Theresa Schnell) understand the milieu as a “productive in-between”. Its permeable walls allow us to think beyond established conditions and to start shaking them them up. The Milieu is a quintessentially social space, a space for collective appropriations and to inventions of other gestures. The female smokers on the billboards from Gerhard Pretzel’s private collection are each stepping into one of these spaces. The images also demonstrate the spaces’ precarity. The emancipatory gesture of appropriating a (male) status symbol, is embraced by advertisement. It becomes visible only through bending to economic interest – an irresolvable contradiction, also in the image of “our” smoker. She pertly (and somewhat surreptitiously) looks over her shoulder, focusing me. Have I caught her at something or is she just indicating me to come over?