A project on a place of isolation
The former dominican monastry, Blankenburg, belongs to one of the most divisive historical buildings in the area of Oldenburg. Since the 13th century it has served as a place of exclusion and isolation. Situated six kilometres outside of the city centre, people considered a threat to the citizens due to their physical as well as their mental condition were housed here. Over the centuries, an architectural complex evolved to accommodate several hundred people: a village for the rejected and ‘abnormal’.
In the Middles Ages, it was already used as a camp for those infected with the pest, in the 17th and 18th century, it became a place for ‘lunatics, bedlam and madness’ and later became termed ‘madhouse’. In the 20th century, the site was extended with many buildings and continued to be run as a psychiatric asylum. From 1935-37, it became an SA work camp where systematic euthanasia was carried out, followed by a military hospital at the end of WW2 and from 1949, an old peoples’ home and psychiatric institution. Following the psychiatric reforms of the 1980s, it served as temporary shelter for GDR citizens and from 2008, a home for asylum seekers. The architecture was always adapted to the functions of the day and so continuously redefined, its memory was overridden.
Together with the state theatre of Oldenburg, werkgruppe2 developed a documentary theatre project which revives the history of the place through the stories of its former inhabitants. Through recounting historical facts and statements from witnesses, the project queries not only the significance of the place for its former residents but also for each member of the local audience.