Judith Stenneken

Staircase, 2018

1 Channel video projection

3'40" loop

Edition of 3 + 2 APs, number 1 of 3


‘Staircase’ is a Political video by artist Judith Stenneken. It is the first video piece from a series of four, part of the project ‘a mountain is only a slow wave’. This political series consists of both photographs and video.


The video is set in Germany’s historical airport Berlin Tempelhof (THF), which closed in 2008. The airport has subsequently been partially converted and reopened as a refugee camp in 2015. That year the German government accepted one million migrants. Many of them were fleeing the war in Syria.

In ‘Staircase’, Stenneken collaborates with Hael, who at the time of the video production in 2016 was living as a refugee in Tempelhof’s hangars for over nine months. However, she looks to Hael as a role model for the human capacity for imagination and adaptation.
In other words, if Hael wants to survive, he is forced to shed his identity and to adapt to a new people, language and culture. Similarly, we too must transform from the core in order to survive. Above all, in our case a moral change is required, a change from within. for instance, we must detect the narratives, beliefs and attitudes that are deeply interwoven with us. These also hurt us and threaten our existence.

In order to survive and to thrive we must be prepared to let go of them, dis-place ourselves from them. We must imagine and learn to adapt to new concepts and ways of being in this world and with each other. This is what it takes to evolve emotionally and spiritually and to overcome what MLK called ‘man’s ethical infantilism’.
10% of the sale of this work is donated to a charity working with refugees – Doctors without Borders in Greece