UN Headquarters NYC
exhibition set up
the smallest common denominator after 1,5 years of planning: 120 pictures attached on 19 dark blue panels positioned in 1b neck, between the General Assembly and the Secretariat Building
© Meret Ellerbeck/ opening with introductory remarks by Ambassador Dr. Brown and USG Takasu
© Meret Ellerbeck/ opening
© Meret Ellerbeck/ video installation
detail exhibition/ interview booklets
© T. von Barnau Sythoff/ commingling
last interview for the project on the 32nd floor of the Secretariat Building
© T. von Barnau Sythoff/ © Goethe-Institut New York/ Jacobia Dahm
© Goethe-Institut New York/ Jacobia Dahm
© Goethe-Institut New York/ Jacobia Dahm
© Goethe-Institut New York/ Jacobia Dahm
find close to our exhibition at the UN/ auditorium German Mission to the UN


UNKNOWN SPACES - an artistic investigation of the United Nations headquarters in Vienna, New York City and Nairobi and their host communities

UN headquarters New York City, 2015

How does the cultural and geographic location of the UN’s offices influence the work of its staff? What impact does the physical presence of the UN have on the local community? And how do UN staff members describe their everyday work? Drawing on over 70 video-interviews with UN staff and members of the host communities, Janke and de Martin create an informal network of images, spoken words, and sounds that probes the intertwinement of individual microcosms and the orga­nizational macrocosm, of the resident organization and the local community. 

Using an interview method in which individuals tell their life stories by laying out a "subjective map" with personal objects surrounding them in their work environment, the Berlin-based artist duo Janina Janke and Maurice de Martin created powerful videos of hand gestures that do not only represent the creative potential of the individual, but also show how a plurality of personal abilities always operates behind the general protocol of a global organization. The project UNKNOWN SPACES investigates how these potentials are incorporated into an institutional structure like the UN. To speak with Spinoza: how can the local individual and the global organization create mutually enriching and sustainable ways to promote the “bright passions”, in others words, the collective abilities of a group that outweigh the sum of its parts (1 + 1 > 2)?  

Parallel to their exhibition UKNOWN SPACES at New York's United Nations Headquarters, Janina Janke and Maurice de Martin give a lecture-performance on the social phenomenon of “worlds inside the world,” exploring how the UN’s head offices in Nairobi, Vienna, and New York relate to their respective host communities. 

Exhbition Opening Tuesday, October 27, 2015, 1 B Neck, UN Headquarters New York City, 6pm (Entrance: 46th Street and 1st Avenue)
with introductory remarks by:
Amb. Harald Braun, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations Under Secretary General Yukio Takaso, United Nations Under Secretary General for Management
Janina Janke and Maurice de Martin, German artists behind “Unknown Spaces”

Exhibition October 27 -31, 2015, 1 B Neck, UN Headquarters New York City

Lecture Performance and Discussion Roundtable, Wednesday, October 28, 2015, Goethe-Institut NYC, 6:30 pm

The exhibition UNKNOWN SPACES at New York’s United Nations Headquarters and the lecture-performance at the Goethe-Institut New York are made possible by the generous support of the German Mission to the United Nations, the German Federal Foreign Office, and the Goethe-Institut New York.

UNKOWN SPACES is part of the initiative „andere räume — knowledge through art“, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).


Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon's Message