DDR

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Gavin Maughfling : 'Memorial'. Oil on Gesso, 50 x 40 cm, 2010 Gavin Maughfling : 'Excursion'. Oil on Gesso, 50 x 40 cm, 2010 Gavin Maughfling : 'Shadows'. Oil on Gesso, 50 x 40 cm, 2010 Gavin Maughfling : 'Afternoon'. Oil on Gesso, 50 x 40 cm, 2010 (private collection)
During the 2009 commemorations of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I watched archive footage of the former DDR which recalled a parallel universe, co-existing uneasily with its West German twin before vanishing overnight. I began to research amateur footage from the former state, thinking about its afterlife, a limbo barely discernible through filters of memory and blurred film footage.

Some of the paintings come from one such source, a home movie which follows a mother and her two sons as they embark on a day trip. ‘Excursion’ is from the start of the film, and shows them setting off from their apartment. ‘Memorial’ depicts their visit to the Voelkerschlachtdenkmal (Battle of the Nations Memorial) in Leipzig. In ‘Shadows’ they are on their way home again at the end of the day. En route they have met up with a second woman – a friend of the mother or maybe her sister? It is not clear at any stage who is behind the camera lens.

I thought about loss, and about the memory of loss, and also about other themes: the loss of childhood and its attendant securities, and also surveillance and oppression. These freeze-frames of a mother with her two sons on an excursion: how would they differ from shots of a West German family taken at a similar time? Would it be the details which differed – the public housing blocks they set off from and came home to, the café where they stopped to eat or the manicured lawns around the Memorial? Or is a difference found instead in a tension sensed in the public spaces – the parks, plazas and streets they crossed?
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During the 2009 commemorations of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I watched archive footage of the former DDR which recalled a parallel universe, co-existing uneasily with its West German twin before vanishing overnight. I began to research amateur footage from the former state, thinking about its afterlife, a limbo barely discernible through filters of memory and blurred film footage.



Some of the paintings come from one such source, a home movie which follows a mother and her two sons as they embark on a day trip. ‘Excursion’ is from the start of the film, and shows them setting off from their apartment. ‘Memorial’ depicts their visit to the Voelkerschlachtdenkmal (Battle of the Nations Memorial) in Leipzig. In ‘Shadows’ they are on their way home again at the end of the day. En route they have met up with a second woman – a friend of the mother or maybe her sister? It is not clear at any stage who is behind the camera lens.



I thought about loss, and about the memory of loss, and also about other themes: the loss of childhood and its attendant securities, and also surveillance and oppression. These freeze-frames of a mother with her two sons on an excursion: how would they differ from shots of a West German family taken at a similar time? Would it be the details which differed – the public housing blocks they set off from and came home to, the café where they stopped to eat or the manicured lawns around the Memorial? Or is a difference found instead in a tension sensed in the public spaces – the parks, plazas and streets they crossed?

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