In her works Bettina Lockemann deals mainly with urban situations. She looks for her topics in spaces of urban agglomeration and realises them with photography and video. Born and raised in Berlin, she studied photography and media art at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig and took a Ph.D in art history at Stuttgart State Academy of Visual Arts. Currently she is working as freelance artist and art historian after teaching for 15years at various art schools and universities in Germany and Switzerland, most recently as Professor of Practice and Theory of Photography at Braunschweig University of Art.
The city is more than the living environment for many people. In the city, the central challenges of humankind become visible. Manifold concerns collide here, that require negotiations about spaces and identities, affiliations and communities, as well as social participation. The city in its built and social structures has always been the attempt to find answers to these tremendous challenges.
Bettina Lockemann approaches her topics from a conceptual point of departure. She begins her work, prepared by comprehensive research, which allows her the experimental phrasing of a question that has to prove of value in the course of her documentary explorations. The places set the methods of her artistic approach. How is it possible to photographically picture the situations found? How can interrelations that are invisible on location be made accessible to reflection? Focusing on things inconspicuous and unspectacular she challenges the beholders to actively participate in the reception of the images by relying on their prior knowledge.
The extensive photographic series and video installations broach multiple issues of urban space. For example: surveillance (“Code Orange”, 2003) and disappearance of public space (“Fringes of Utopia”, 2002), sites of crime in relation to the Holocaust in Berlin (“Plan”, with Elisabeth Neudörfl, 1999), or urban revitalisation in New Orleans (“Post-Shrinking City”, since 2014, ongoing). Topical incidents also occasionally encroach upon her works as for example the situation in Cairo one year after the Arab Spring uprising (“Traffic”, 2012) or Paris in state of emergency after the terrorist attacks on November 13, 2015 (“État d’Urgence”, will be published in spring 2016 with spectorbooks Leipzig,). Her work is exhibited internationally and published in books.
In Bangalore, Bettina will work on the topic of mobility. She is very much interested to research this topic in a fast growing urban environment like Bangalore. She will be dealing with issues of transport, its use, efficiency, infrastructure and urban planning circling terms like speed/standstill, noise/silence, smog, heat, class, and gender, working on a visual presentation of her findings.
Welcome to a city where streets are consecutively numbered – in each ward. When wards assign the names twice because there is a sub-ward featuring the same street name it is important to know about this. But if Googlemaps does not know about the existence of the sub-ward it is easy to get lost.
Thus I was exactly at the right spot to work on mobility. Grateful for the quiet accommodation at IIHS’s guest house at Sankey Tank – where I was woken up by birds, not by traffic noise – I spent my days on noisy and polluted crossings and regained strength at this beautiful green and quiet spot. Apart from hectic pace, noise, and stench during the day I had to grapple with temperatures of around 40° C.
My colleagues at IIHS connected me to researchers and to the transport administration, pointed out places where I was able to directly experience specific traffic problems, suggested films and literature that I was able to familiarize myself with the complexity of my topic. I tried out all means of transportation, sometimes waited at bus stops for up to 60 minutes just to take a rickshaw in the end. After understanding the bus system I often rode the bus, sitting between women who cannot afford any other means of transportation, more or less secretly eyed by them – as ‘whites’ normally don’t take the bus (in Bangalore women sit in the front, men in the back of the bus).
My photography was inspired by the sensual experience of transportation devices: the immersion into the crowds on the bus, the air draft and closeness to other motorists or cyclists in the rickshaw, the feeling of encapsulation in an air-conditioned taxi.
One of the highlights of my stay was the opening of the new tunnel section of the metro that inaugurated the first end-to-end east-west connection line which has effectively reduced travel times in the city. I was happy that the metro was subsequently usually very crowded. This shows that it is possible to successfully draw people off the streets – helping the city in the long run. As a friend of public transport I tested various modes of mobility, learned to cross busy streets without fear, to discuss with bus conductors, and to pick the right time of day to return home without spending hours in traffic jams. After a while I was able to easily negotiate my way through the city – where the question of how to get from a to b and how long this may take is a problem permanently discussed by everyone – which helped me to conceive my project “Commuter Space”.
The Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan organised the basis for my work by providing contact to residents of the city who were interested in my topic and who became very helpful in the process of production. This allowed me to finish the project in spite of the very short time of eight weeks.