Lenka Clayton

T.V., Vidijo, Radijo, Tanke.

Visual description of project:

A colour screen-printed poster of a handwritten sign inscribed with the words: T.V., Videjo, Radijo, Tanke. The poster will be installed at Kollwitz Platz in a back-lit display box of the type usually used for advertising or public information. The corner is a busy residential area opposite a weekly market, most regular viewers of the work will be passing local residents.


It is a common sight in Berlin to see people, often foreigners, holding these signs by the side of roads and close to rubbish tips. The sign I use in this project was found outside a rubbish dump in Prenzlauer Berg and was used to collect broken electrical equipment to be repaired and resold.

The work will essentially be a portrait and testimony to this profession. It is possible to imagine the person who wrote the sign by the peculiarities of the hand-writing, to guess at their nationality from the spelling and to judge the recent history of the sign by its dirty surface and battered edges. Like a homeless persons sign begging for food these requests for help are the public face of the people standing behind them. They write, we read and react, or not. The sign is the central part of a direct communication. Poverty has brought this age-old exchange back to the streets of the city in stark contrast to the accepted face of the new Berlin.

Kollwitz Platz is a prosperous area, one where the signs would not usually be found. In showing it so deliberatedly I want to point out the existence of these people and of the ensuing symbiotic relationship, one living from the waste of the other.

Although the people stand out of the way in the shadow of the sign they lend a certain authority to it. Their being there every day in all weathers gives their request an human side and provokes compassion. The sign will be completely removed from this human context. It is seperated from its author (and as such its reason for existing) and from its place. Its visual qualities will through the process of photography, screen-printing and enlargement be flattened and transformed. The screen-print will purposefully be as slick as possible, resembling a corporate image in stark contrast to a street found object, an illusion further enforced by the glass-fronted box in which it will be seen. The viewer will be much more willing to read this presumed advertising than were it to be seen in someones hands by the side of the road. Only once reading it will they realise where it has come from.

What does the sign become once it is removed from its context. Do we still read it as a request? and if so will it still continue to function? Will it still collect electrical equipment?

I want to confront the viewer, I am tricking them into looking.