PRINT May 2006



AT FIRST GLANCE, Pawel Althamer’s Fairy Tale, 2006—perhaps the most iconoclastic work in the current Berlin Biennial—is an activist project: the artist leveraging the power of institutions (in this instance, the biennial, with its visibility and prestige) for social change. Entering a run-down former stable in the courtyard of a disused post office, viewers find themselves in a room that’s empty except for a single sneaker. On the door is a photocopied text on biennial stationery: a letter from Althamer to Berlin’s interior minister, Erhart Körting, pleading with him to grant a residence permit to an eighteen-year-old boy, Besir Oclay. The letter reveals that Oclay, who moved to Germany from Turkey when he was a baby, is being threatened with deportation (just as his younger siblings will be when they turn eighteen and lose the protections due them as minors). Severely depressed, he is

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