A year ago, I came across an immense, bizarre building in ruins that stretched nearly 4 kilometres along the northern coast of Germany. Dream or nightmare? It was the longest building in the world, conceived by a sick mind with unlimited power: Hitler. Size as a metaphor for ambition. Another Babel.
In 1935, National Socialism needed to dupe the working masses that formed the backbone of the German economy. Hitler and his team came up with a holiday programme, the KdF, whose star attraction would be a coastal town packed into one huge building with capacity for up to 20,000 people. The project was enthusiastically hailed as the banner of an ideology bent on the annihilation of the individual: holidays in human hives.
However, it was actually a ruse to build the largest war hospital ever seen. In 1939, Hitler invaded Poland. The building—still unfinished—housed the wounded, who were followed by Soviet soldiers, refugees from the east, GDR intelligence offices and squatters. And the curse of different tongues condemned it to ruin after German reunification.
And now? Should we destroy it? What if younger generations could inhabit it and, in doing so, digest the awful past?
But the property value is too high to contemplate ethical doubts. Unbridled capitalism has triumphed. Today important estate agencies have raised a forest of cranes over it and hung shiny posters that contrast forlornly with the as-yet untouched original walls.
This year I went back to film it and compile material for my video piece. Faced with the mind-boggling dimensions of its walls, I wanted to establish a human scale: my footsteps. I decided to shoot the entire length of the building at my own pace. The duration of the video piece is the time it took me to walk it.
Now, in 2018, Hitler’s propaganda has finally materialised as a brand-new holiday resort. And its endless walls will become an infinite snakeskin. Or lambskin. Or a contemporary, horizontal Tower of Babel.
Pilar Millán, Berlin 2018
Babel / Global. The Vertigo of Infinity.
Art Globalization Interculturality.
Director: Anna Guasch.
Lectures: Francisco Jarauta and Antoni Muntadas.
Circular Track (La Huella Circular) – video projection: Pilar Millán.
Faculty of Philosophy, Barcelona University 2018.