Peter Oehlmann Stonehenge . Time shift

Stonehenge . Time shift

It had begun to drizzle as the Japanese man hurried past me. He ran bent forwards, trying not to lose contact with his travel group. As he lifted his arm to look at his watch I raised the camera and – of course – jerked it. Today it appears to me to be a reflection of the absurdity of my situation at that time.

A small London gallery was showing our exhibition “Protokoll Strekken – images from social life”, and had invited Jens Rötzsch and me. The travel application submitted to the artists’ association was more an act of provocation. Although we had hoped for approval, we did not truly expect to receive it – there are worse misjudgements you can make.

So there we were in England. We financed our stay with talks, travelled around a lot and had interesting encounters. The events in the GDR had achieved an unexpected dynamism, said a BBC newsreader. We saw the news from this country and it was hard for me to grasp that it was my own.

Unreal. This is the expression that occurs to me when I think of those times. The brush fire of the Monday demonstrations appeared unreal from a foreign news perspective, unreal that my small, wholly uncharismatic homeland should suddenly be the focus of special reports on the major news channels. Unreal that I was not there.

I was a passive, detached observer of events that should have concerned me, fully concentrated on reacting to the new impressions that I was exposed to here. 

When I returned, my country was a different one. I had fallen out of time somewhat, like the Japanese man in front of the standing stones.