A Room For Life

Book | Unique Handmade Copy | Cardboard, C-print, Drawing | Variable Dimensions | 2010

Exhibitions: A Room for Life won the 2010 Preis of the Kunst- und Museumsbibliothek Cologne. The Book was purchased by the museum’s library for their permanent collection and can be viewed on demand.

The memory book pays homage to Ukrainian forced Laborer (Ostarbeiterin) Nina Sawina, who was brought to Germany in 1942 at age of 19. Sawina was one of the few women laborers in her section who could speak German. Due to her knowledge of the German language, she became a spokesperson for other women workers and was able to voice their demands to authorities, resulting in her stigmatization as a rebellious worker. As a result of her reputation and her love affair with a German soldier, she was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 and was executed shortly after her arrest. Her name has been engraved on one of the walls of El-DE-Haus in Cologne. Every year El-DE-Haus in Cologne, –currently Museum– publishes biographies of unknown victims of the National Socialism in Germany. This project was carried out as a collaboration with the Art Library of the Ludwig Museum in Cologne and El-DE-Haus Museum.

The design of the book enables readers to browse from both sides, left and right. Accordingly, to which side one turns the pages, the book illustrates a different story. Browsing from the right-hand side embodies Nina Sawina’s biography in Ukraine (East), and the left side portrays her biography in Germany (West), there are however some hidden pages in between the visible layouts that are revealed if one examines the book vertically. These hidden pages are dedicated to Sawina’s love affair with a German soldier, and in this way, the book plays with the notion of reading between the lines.