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Hito Steyerl

The Martin-Gropius-Bau is located in an urban field of tension that is connected to various historical processes of migration. Migrations were triggered, prevented, and directed in the area around the building. The decisions made and the ideas developed here often had consequences in far distant places or were related to such places. This territory thus points to several other places whose spatial logics were directed or shaped in part from here.

The Main Office for the Security of the Reich (Reichssicherheitshauptamt, RSHA) of the National Socialist state, which bordered the Martin-Gropius-Bau to the east, was the site of the planning and carrying out of large-scale resettlements, deportations, and mass murder, as well as of the importation and exploitation of forced labourers.

The consequences of the National Socialist war and extermination policies led to the deportation of Germans from Eastern Europe after World War II ended; their organizations have been located in the Deutschlandhaus, on the southern side of the complex, for 50 years.

The western side, by contrast, where the parking lot is now, was the site of the Völkerkundemuseum (Museum of Ethnology), which was founding in the late 19th century in the context of German colonial policies.

The main entrance on the building’s north side is also associated with the history of a border. From 1961, when the Berlin Wall was constructed, this was the border of the GDR. This entrance is only open again since 1999 and is located directly below the space of the HUB Migration / Euroscapes.

Setting out from this closed and then reopened entrance, as well as from certain architectural details of the Martin-Gropius-Bau, the project Euroscapes in the HUB Migration thematizes the spatial logics of migration that are to be implemented in present-day Europe. According to its initial conception the Martin-Gropius-Bau was to house the products of the international production of arts and crafts. This global ambition can be seen in the mosaics that decorate the façade, which were supposed to symbolize the various countries and epochs, including the mosaics ‘China’ and ‘Greece’. These architectural elements are connected by means of association with various spaces of migration in Europe.