Roland Stratmann´s installation thematizes the ephemeral and the difficult-to-grasp – here however in the context of migration and integration.
In our globalized world, shipping containers facilitate the smooth, efficient, and cost-effective transport of goods between continents. These receptacles - closed to outside view - are also used to conceal illegal cargo and to smuggle people. Inside the container, delicate shadows are delineated on white sheets of paper. These are physiognomic portrayals of migrants. Stimulated by these only indistinctly visible portraits, the beholder experiences a process of morphing. For a brief moment, the foreign assumes a familiar appearance, while the searching gaze in turn converts the familiar into the strange. Installed on the roof of the container is a spatial structure consisting of plastic bags which are tied tightly together. These are the types of simple bags in which refugees transport their meager belongings. The bags bear signatures, behind each of which stands an individual fate. In the form of a cloud, they waft now above the heads of visitors and passersby.
Translated into German, the Afrikaans expression “Hemel en hel” means “Himmel und Hölle (heaven and hell in English) - two perspectives which together circumscribe the entire spectrum of human life and existence. Hemelenhel attempts an artistic rapprochement with the complexity of phenomena of migration and integration, a topic that is charged with emotional, ethnic, religious, political, and social differences and tensions.
Stratmann's installation interrogates social contexts and employs simple resources in order to engender an incisive image of our uneasy dealings with those of foreign appearance