“Das Hätte Nicht Passieren Dürfen” (2018)

Three-channel sound installation. Commissioned by Karma Ltd. Extended and installed in the ACUD gallery’s courtyard in Berlin, February–March 2018. Length: 14 minutes.

The sound piece unfolds the story of Franco A., a neonazi German soldier who managed to trick the asylum seeker system in Germany and pass as a Syrian refugee. Franco A. was arrested in Vienna in 2017 while retrieving a hidden gun from a bathroom stall in the airport; the police later found he had also makeshift bombs and a “kill list.” His original plan was to commit a series of terror attacks against politicians, public figures, and left-wing activists and blame on asylum seekers and refugees. The case gained mild international attention in 2017; Franco A., however, had his terror charges dropped later in 2018.

Das haette nicht passieren duerfen (Installation view)

Using text-to-speech software, the sound installation reads from official reports released by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), concerning their failure to assess the validity of Franco A.’s fake asylum claim. One of the key assets to grant him temporary asylum was, allegedly, his interview and language and accent assessment hearing; the failure of properly handling the hearing was, later on, used by the BAMF as motivation to push for implementing accent-recognition software in the asylum seeking process in Germany.

Das haette nicht passieren duerfen (Installation view)

The piece is constructed around the use of bureaucratic language, and more specifically the phrase “das hätte nicht passieren dürfen” (this should not have happened), present in the documents.

Together with the sound piece, the installation also displays excerpts from scores in which texts from the documents are transposed into machine-readable phonemes and mixed with excerpts from texts by anti-colonial authors and poets (in this case: May Ayim, Frantz Fanon, and Mahmoud Darwish).

Das haette nicht passieren duerfen (Scores)