The freight yard in Altendorf has already experienced a long “period of inactivity” – according to the motto of this year’s art festival “Inspections” in Chemnitz. It has not been used for 20 years and all the tracks have been dismantled except for a few remains. They no longer lead to the distance, to some dream or nightmare future, but …

The freight yard in Altendorf has already experienced a long “period of inactivity” – according to the motto of this year’s art festival “Inspections” in Chemnitz. It has not been used for 20 years and all the tracks have been dismantled except for a few remains. They no longer lead to the distance, to some dreamlike or nightmarish future, but at most to somewhere, to nowhere. And the station is empty as time is running out somewhere. It has degenerated into a waiting room for its own future.

The “dead time”, according to the organizers of the festival, is a reminder of the time known to companies, when the machines are at a standstill and are therefore not productive. A period that many people may have experienced during the Corona lockdown. What you may have come to appreciate as a time of self-awareness, calm and distance from the creation of value, higher, faster, further, more and even more aware of capitalist everyday life. That they may have suffered as a time of isolation, to be left alone until sickness and death. Maybe they haven’t noticed a difference because they are always alone, because their time is always or never a dead time.

Most of the 20 artistic positions selected by the jury from hundreds of applications are equally existential. And yet, the works more or less refer to life and artistic opportunities in pandemic conditions. It starts with the place of their production. Only a few were able to work “from home” this time on site. Ukrainian-Polish artist Viktoriia Tofan, for example. In her sound installation, she deals with Slavic “lullabies of death” against evil spirits. They sound from a sculpture in the shape of a wave and, according to the information leaflets about the works of art, are now sung by Polish women protesting. An audio installation in the outdoor space by Viktor Dallmann uses objects found in the station area, such as a banner with the inscription “Youth and socialism are one”. The printed script becomes a phonetic transcription and the whole is cryptically called “Get. Pick – Zur Ramschwerdung des echos”. The Retrograd agency – that is, Rosemarie Ebert and Alpa Welsch – creates their own design memorabilia as part of a sort of interactive performance. Sophia Hirsch and Johannes Mundinger’s “Ho-mo Faber” wall collage, on the other hand, is more classic, referring to the experience of unemployment through symbols that are difficult to decipher. Paula Carralero-Bierzynska’s “diary” is easier to understand. She painted empty buildings in and around Chemnitz behind glass on faulty cellphone screens – a job that is also about sustainability.

Other artists have sent in their work or have it played digitally. The inspections show that they are very well networked nationally and internationally with other cultural initiatives, with the Technical University of Chemnitz. Michiel Frielink from Leipzig plays with the past, sometimes too present, in a large tempera painting. Women have carved a swastika from a red flag in a barren landscape, other women apparently hold this carved flag in their hands and look around almost fearfully. The painting is just as mysterious as the linocuts by Deborah Ziller de Halle / Saale, whose three graphics subtly thematize loneliness and melancholy. The sculptural heads of Katharina Gerold, who have won a nice place on a sprayed wall, are at the rendezvous. In her installation “The Waiting Room System”, Fabienne Margue revives humiliating experiences in a waiting room that is full of rules of conduct. Digital displays take up special space – like the virtual hook by Polish-American artist Olek and the digital paintings by Parham Ghalamdar of the twin city of Chemnitz, Manchester, created using artificial intelligence. However, both are more like technical gadgets – despite an ambitious text from Olek. The installation “No man’s land or the question of” by the artist collective Kak-teenwelt, particularly impressive in the dark, links the history of the Paris Commune to escape, migration and social inequality to the present around a large tower.

Concentration on relatively few works in an attractive mix of genres benefits “inspections” in the large area – which also provides enough space for distances conforming to the crown. The works can work for themselves, but always interact with each other. They most often approach existential questions through detours or through constructions of thought which do not always have an immediate effect. The downtime could also become an apprenticeship if it does not cut the tracks between the goods transshipment points, as at the freight station in Altendorf, but rolls. “Inspections” always give impetus to this.

The “Inspections” art festival is open on Saturdays from 10 am to 9 pm and on Sundays from 10 am to 8 pm. Admission fee. Wearing a mask is compulsory in the exhibition hall.

www.begehungen-chemnitz.de