lüderitzcargo 1995/96


A Translocal Picture Machine about Phantom Limbs and Abjects

»Seeing is having at a distance« Merleau-Ponty

Five Intermedial Space Interventions

As a site for the imagination the cinema is a transitory space par excellence. There is scarcely any other medium in which one's mind can go on journeys without moving. But what happens now in this dark chamber when films from the colonial archive in Berlin return after a hundred years to the place where they were made? And how does one perceive them at the end of the world, in 1996 shortly before connecting to the Internet with its digital flood of images, when they return on celluloid in the idealised transport space of a sea-going container taken out of service?

These are two starting points of luederitzcargo, an artistic field study of a heterotopia between the Namib desert and the south African Atlantic coast.


Lüderitzbucht 26°38´Süd

»In 1925 the young engineering student Kurt Mondaugen travels from Germany into the other hemisphere, into the mirror time of the Deutsch-Südwest protectorate. Mondaugen was here to participate in a research project and had the job of setting up his equipment as close as possible to the 28th parallel.«

Thomas Pynchon, "V"

In 1883 Luederitz Bay was the first harbour in the German south-west colonial region. After findings of diamonds there quickly arose an absurd exhibition piece of Germany on the other side of the equator, a mirror image of European Jugendstil architecture in the sands of the African desert. Part of this weird and eerie mirage was the first German Concentration Camp (KZ) established in 1904 on "Haifischinsel" as part of the genocide against the Herero and Nama.

At the end of the 20th century we find here a highly unreal place on the wild Atlantic coast. The constant alternations of fog, wind and sun strengthen the surreally dislocated atmosphere - the little town with the difficult life is an ideal place for the cinematographic experiment of luderitzcargo.


An old freight container is brought by train from Windhoek through the Namib desert and converted into a travelling cinema.

In addition to building in a housing for the projectors between the roof and the removed cover, installation of flexible awnings outside, installing air conditioning and a side door, the screen is implemented both as the projection screen and as a window onto the changing town and country spaces.


In the barren desert location without television, telephone and Internet, the cinema container brings a wholly unexpected picture space into existence. The inside of this box of flickering illusion is divided into the space for the spectators with their twelve seats, and the interface of the screen on which opens the modal period of the displayed films.

Like every medium, cinema only works if a certain transparency develops during the showing. As with one's own body and reading a book, the projected images can unfold properly only if the viewer forgets where he is.

Between the seats and the screen a movable sheet of glass is set up that doubles the depth of the auditorium before the start of the screenings. During the showing the virtual images intensify behind this Mirror Surface.

Towards the end of the showing there is a return to the site of the events. The design of the cinema screen as a ¬ finestra aperta reinforces the overlapping of reality and fiction. The films shown are historical material from the turn of the century, post-colonial propaganda films from the Nazi period and contemporary productions by Kluge and Schlingensief.


In the harbour area of Luederitz bay, the film United Trash is shown.

Marc Augé describes the "experience of the eternal now" in the so-called non-place society. And so the cinema viewers of Luederitz bay are embeded in the non-lieu of the mobile space capsule.


»The non-place passenger finds his identity only at the frontier post, the till, the supermarket checkout, the password. The non-place provides no identity, no relationship, but rather loneliness and similarity.«

Marc Augé, Non Lieue, 1994

Augé describes the "experience of the eternal now" in the so-called non-place society. And so the cinema viewers of Lüderitz bay are embeded in the non-lieu of the mobile space capsule.

The cinematographic dislocation of the film viewer in the image machine becomes a conscious experience.

In the evening the 1932 film "Kameraden in Südwest" is shown

Visitors discuss the origins of the images

Interview: "CNN World News - Please give us a picture!"


At five different locations of the former colonial city, a journey in space and time occurs during the showing in two senses: one for the presented films and the other for the actual transporting of the container with a fork-lift truck and a lorry of the TransNamib company.

In the depths of the Namibia desert, the programme ends with a showing of the 1969 moon landing.

With the spreading of the Internet, images and whole directories of data can be moved with a mouse click.

The non-place space capsule of the converted freight container attempts to recapture the lost space. The container is the counterpart of the cursor on the screens of an evolving information society.

Sponsoring Partner: Air Namibia, Avis, Auswärtiges Amt Bonn, German Embassy Windhoek, Metje+Ziegler Ltd., Namibian Breweries, Trans World Cargo und TransNamib

A Projekt by TERM | © Fetzner/Finkch 1996

Exhibition at NRW-Forum 2011

Reviews: BAUWELT / Süddeutsche Zeitung / architekturkoeln.de / Wirtschaftswoche


translocation 2006 No longer here, and not yet there - between spaces. Radio Interview with Daniel Fetzner about a research project in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany

Open Container 2006 The class Open Container, taught by Kim Yasuda and Dick Hebdige at UC Santa Barbara, explored the ways a simple shipping container can be utilized.

Cargo Sofia 2007 The project by Stefan Kaegi is a mixture of theatre, performance and multimedia show. In this way, between staged reality and everyday fiction it allows a look at the (un)usual day-to-day life of globalisation. As a carefully observant cell, Cargo Sofia negotiates the landscape of globalisation, which is being changed by transnational goods traffic. Video projections in the interior of the lorry overlay reality, creating and referring to an "augmented space".