Berlin, December 2016

Being at the Berlin Fire Brigade: an interview with Alona Rodeh

Alona Rodeh started to work at the Berlin Fire Brigade in September as part of the Artist Dis-Placemt Program at ZK/U in Berlin. Here are some of the impressions she had during the last three month.



KUNSTrePUBLIK : This artist dis-placement program is part of your ongoing meta project safe and sound. can you say something about this project?

Alona Rodeh : My Safe and Sound ongoing project is a continuous research of the way safety is expressed these days in the city streets. I am not busy with cyberspace, but in the what is actually seen and heard by us as citizens of the west.

KRP : Unlike the other artists, you approached us after hearing about the artist dis placement program, wishing to be placed at the Berlin fire brigade. Why did you want to work outside the art sphere?
A.R. :First, I was and am always far more interested in the “real world” than the art world, though these are not completely separate. The functionalism is almost exotic to me. And the time spent at the Fire Brigade, is special. The friction with the city and its inhabitants is very high, even that it is random. But on the other hand, they live in their own separate universe, and see the city from afar, counting the statistics of its accidents, and feeling a bit above it all, untouchable. I was attracted to the fire brigade because their technique caught my attention. When I heard of the Artists Dis-Placement residency I thought we are perfect for each other – ZK/U and I, and so it is. The fire Brigade is extremely open to the presence of mine, which is most of what I am doing at the moment: snooping around.

K.R.P : What did you experience during your first Month at the Berlin Fire Brigade?
A.R. : I am learning the people and their profession. Their job is strange and full of challenges. But the challenges are less technical and more about sustainability. How to not loose interest, due to a vast amount of false alarms. In fact, most of the work of the fire brigade is ambulance service. There are less and less fires.

K.R.P : Do you think also the fire brigade can benefit from this project, how?
A.R. : At the moment I notice mostly the benefit from the presence of someone completely foreign to them: a woman (there are very few female firefighters), not German and hardly speaking German (there a very few foreigners in the Berliner Feuerwehr) and not a firefighter in my education. Lets see what the next months will lead to.  


Alona Rodeh (b.1979) is a visual artist based in Tel Aviv and Berlin. Rodeh’s works react to cultural phenomena by engaging and appropriating their visual and concrete manifestations, rooted in the daily practice of the public sphere. Her large-scale works have been exhibited at venues including among others Tel Aviv Museum, the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, CCA Tel Aviv, Plug In ICA in Winnipeg, Canada. She has held performances at Zacheta National Gallery in Warsaw, at the Swiss Pavilion at the Venice Biennial, Israel Museum and others. Recently Rodeh exhibited a solo show at Grimmuseum in Berlin. In last year’s Transmediale Festival, Rodeh presented a lecture-performance on the history of siren devices, mapping the parallel evolution of sirens in civil defense and music from the early 19th century until today, with an emphasis on Israel’s history of alarms.