Softcover with cloth spine.
In Berlin during the winter of 1972 cryptic messages appeared painted on walls and penned inside telephone booths of the Tempelhof and Schöneberg neighborhoods warning, by means of radio transmitters in their heads citizens are being controlled, overheard, talked-to, persecuted and tortured. He warned that C.I.A. radio transmitters imbedded in every third house throughout the city. By 1978, West Berlin was covered with the messages. Until he started walking the city with placards and a megaphone, the messenger remained anonymous for three of his six-year campaign, known only as The Sendermann or transmitter man. The artist Andreas Seltzer photographed the messages, and with artist/gallerist Dieter Hacker published the book By Means of Radio Transmitters in their Heads Citizens are Being Controlled, Eves-dropped, Talked-to, Persecuted and Tortured: Example of a Resistance. It appears as publication #10 in the 7.Produzentengalerie artist booklets.
Seltzer interprets the Sendermann’s sentences as a contemporary "painting of the mentally ill" akin to outsider art and is interested in the means and how effective the transmitter man’s message. As much as the Sendermann can sound “crazy,” regardless of whether he was suffering from mental illness or not, much of what he warned about was actually happening to various degrees during the Cold war. The CIA, KGB, NSA, as well as the French and British secret services maintained surveillance of Berlin. In the east, the Stasi were wiring houses to evesdrop on its citizens, people were surveilled and photographed, suspects detained and interrogated and sometimes physically and mentally tortured. All sides had an interest in collecting information, placing moles or spies and exerting political influence.
The book is small and simply designed with 47 photographs. Seltzer’s photographs are artless records that seem to struggle technically; camera blur, soft focus, and poor exposure. All of the “flaws” amplified by the book’s anemic printing lend an authenticity to this example of resistance. The low-fi quality is charming, and the method of bookmaking, feels respectfully aligned with the Sendermann, quick and direct, the message more important than the presentation.
The last two images depict a Sendermann message scribbled on a billboard advertisement for Kodak offering a “Shield Service” to block “Sender Terror.” In the ad, Santa Claus glances directly at the viewer over his wire-rim glasses as he raises a Kodak instamatic camera in his hands. The horrifying subtext of wish fulfillment and surveillance is clear. Santa, who secretly comes into your house in the middle of the night, is now ready to photograph you while you’re asleep. It doesn’t take a crazy person to read that as terrifying while most passersby just look and smile. (Jeffrey Ladd)
Publisher: 7. Produzentengalerie
Size: 11 x 15 cm (approx.)