The road to the official place of commemoration

Since 2005, every January 7, people gather to remember Laye Condé and the other people affected of the forced administration of emetics. This commemoration has always been an expression of protest. Early on, activists called for a place of remembrance. On the one hand, such a place of remembrance addresses those affected and can thus contribute to making them visible and to recognizing the injustice committed against them individually. On the other hand, a place of remembrance is both a means and an expression of coming to terms with social injustice.

In 2014, the Initiative in Memory of Laye Alama Condé made a first concrete attempt to realize a place of remembrance. Together with the two artists Doris Weinberger and Jule Körperich, a concrete proposal was submitted to the cultural authority. This first attempt brought the idea of a place of remembrance to a broader public and substantiated the Initiative’s demand to the authorities, but did not initially lead to a concrete implementation.

In a next step, the Initiative launched a self-designed Mobile Place of Remembrance on the 12th anniversary of Laye Condé’s death in 2017. Since then, this could be visited and heard at various places and cultural venues in Bremen. Since the annual commemoration action on January 7, 2022, the Mobile Place of Remembrance has been located on Goetheplatz in Bremen.

Accompanying a debate in the Bremen Parliament, the Initiative has developed a handout: Place of remembrance for Laye Condé and 13 years of Emetic Torture in Bremen. Questions, Misunderstandings, Arguments (Gedenkort für Laye Condé und 13 Jahre Brechmittelvergabe in Bremen. Fragen, Missverständnisse, Argumente), in which reference was made to some recurring questions surrounding a possible place of remembrance.

Due to persistent public pressure from civil society, the Green Party, the Left Party and the SPD came out in favor of the establishment of a place of remembrance in their coalition agreement in July 2019. Finally, at the end of 2020, at the request of these governing parties, the Bremen parliament decided by a majority to “create a permanent place to commemorate what happened and to remind people that no one should be subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment, suffer lasting harm or even lose their life in police custody.”

The place of remembrance will be realized on a small square next to the Gerhard-Marcks-House.

Following the decision, the Initiative prepared a paper: Reflections and key points on the decided place of remembrance (Überlegungen und Eckpunkte zum beschlossenen Gedenkort). The paper explores the question of whose exactly can be commemorated with a place of remembrance. In 2021, the cultural authority decided both to call for an artistic competition and to form a selection committee that will decide which of the submitted designs will actually be realized.

Unique in Bremen so far is that this selection committee was not formed by art experts or representatives of politics and authorities, but is composed of interested parties from Bremen’s urban society, including many with their own experiences with (anti-black) racism and police violence. The cultural authority had advertised for this with a letter that specifically invited participation in the selection committee with the following questions:

“We are looking for people who feel addressed by these questions:

  • Do you yourself have experience with racism and discrimination in Bremen – and thus an eye for the special perspective of the place of remembrance?
  • Do you yourself make the experience of being seen as “foreign” and possibly disadvantaged?
  • Do you perhaps know people who have been affected by an emetic?
  • Have you yourself been affected by an emetic?”

Finally, on December 7, 2022, the Senator for Culture published the call for an artistic competition, Until January 31, 2023, (visual) artists: inside worldwide should express their interest.

Text of the call in ENGLISH, FRANCAIS, ESPAGNOL.

In addition, the cultural authority writes:

“Content theme of the place of remembrance:

The task of the competition is the artistic design of the new place of remembrance to the right of the Gerhard-Marcks-Haus in Bremen (https://marcks.de/). The place of remembrance should take at least take these three points into account. The place of remembrance will be a place of discussion and dialogue for all people of this city. The place should become a place of remembrance for all citizens.

1. the place of remembrance commemorates the case of Laye Alama Condé

2. the place of remembrance commemorates the people who were subjected to the forced application of emetics in the custody of the state.

3. the place of remembrance is intended to be a place of confrontation with anti-black racism.

The artwork can make references to the following topics, among others:

– Expectoration as torture and the use of violence.

– Police violence and racist practice

– Racist violence still exists in state custody today

– Appreciation of anonymous people affected

– Strengthening people who have had these experiences, strengthening motivation not to stand alone and to rebel against grievances (empowerment)

– It can become a place to linger and interact as well as dialogue.

– Background information about the artwork should be available digitally and analogously, multilingualism should be considered in any case (at least English, German, French).

All people affected of racism can be remembered.

All artists are invited to apply. Especially artists who are related to the described topics and contents are invited to apply. In addition, we would be very pleased if especially Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPoC) participate in the process.”

X Entschädigung für alle Betroffenen von Brechmittelfolter