T.H.: Nevertheless, the use of one to one conversations, the idea of the artists giving a gift, an invitation a provocation that is individually oriented towards the singular politician is a new form of activism. This might resemble the hidden work of a lobbyist who work against each politicians in order to create both an intimate relationship, but also to influence on decision processes through close contact. But then you have chosen to let all communication take place in an open public platform. Could you elaborate a bit on the choice of method?
T.H.: Has there been any official reaction against the actionist form?
C.S.: With our action we were able to create a broad public discussion, not necessarily with people in the street, but within the political class. As the contract had been signed when we started we were not able to stop the museum project, but we clearly pointed to the lack of scientific competence regarding the museum concept and forced the foundation through a massive public attention to come up with a more profound concept and certainly not to display unreflected admiration of nationalistic and right wing weapon cult. There has not been one singular official reaction to the action because each Member of Parliament was addressed individually and in diversified forms. The responses range from "no reaction" to lively and productive encounters. One interesting observation was that in the beginning, members of the conservative party, cdu, were unwilling to talk to us. They tried to avoid the individual meetings by sending back an official statement written by a spokesperson of the party, an "expert" in the field. Of course, we could not accept this, but only when they realized that their refusing to talk did harm to their public image as open-minded politicians in touch with their voters, some of them agreed to meet for conversations.
T.H.: But surely, cultural workers either artists or film makers has an easier task raising a voice in the media. Some would even say that artists have a duty in doing so. I would also guess that ways of working within the project has been influenced by the way the protest has been organized?
T.H.: And the response from the owner of the foundation?
C.S.: Peter Tamm himself reacted on the public relations front using the Springer press empire's newspapers bild-Zeitung and Welt am Sonntag. In back-to back coverage, these newspapers tried to make a storm out of the fact that one participant in the TammTamm action, a filmmaker, is a former member of the raf (Red Army Fraction). Exposing the evils of public protest, the articles also pointed an accusing finger at the teacher's union, which had supported the project. I would like to share Rahel Pufferts' estimation on this. She says: "Obviously helpless, Peter Tamm had to grab yesterday's targets to fight a new form for protest. But by doing so, Springer and Tamm only proved once again, how anchored they are in the past."
T.H.: I am curious to know how the collaboration with The Teachers Union came about. As I have understood, they published the book Tamm-tamm - Eine Anregung zur öffentlichen Diskussion über das Tamm-Museum that gave you the facts and knowledge needed in order to form a more efficient opposition? T.H.: What kind of political reasoning or arguments has been presented to make the Parliament donate a large amount of money to a private foundation, without securing any political control?
C.S.: First of all, the whole project has to be seen in the context of urban planning and city development. My thesis is, that without HafenCity we would not have to face the Maritime Museum in such a large scale. In the context of the HafenCity the municipality was desperate to find a museum concept able to fill the huge building designated for museum use, namely the oldest warehouse in the area. To bring in the maritime collection of Peter Tamm seemed to be the perfect solution for everybody, as Peter Tamm was also looking for a space to expand his collection to a museum format. The most important arguments for the museum were the improvement of the cultural and recreational value of the city, as well as the size and the uniqueness of the collection. All our arguments against the museum, like the contested quality of the collection, its militaristic and nationalistic tendency, the lack of scientific competence on the foundation's side to develop a proper concept, the construction of the private-public-partnership in which the public has no say, and the well-known right-wing publisher Peter Tamm as a representative of the new, "growing city" of Hamburg, all these arguments have not been heard or accepted.
T.H.: It seems to me that the process lacks initiative from the political system itself. You might think that establishing a large project like this would spark a long discussion of the need for such a museum, its profile and the possible advantages for the city. Is old school democratic processes put aside, in order to actively support private initiative?
C.S.: That is true. There was no transparency or public discussion during the decision making process. At the time when the parliament voted for the building of the museum, in February 2005, there was no public information (catalogue or web archive) available about the nature or quality of the private collection that would form the basis of the museum. It turned out that many of the politicians-none of whom voted against the museum - had any idea about the collection or the possible consequences of the planned museum. That is the reason why our action was not directed against the collector, but against the politically responsible members of parliament. What might be another reason for the kind of decision making is the fact that Peter Tamm-although retired for more than a decade and mainly acting in the background- still today holds seats in a number of supervisory boards and is part of an extended and influential "Old Boys Network" which includes important media representatives as well as politicians of all parties. That simply means that he has the right friends that help to make his dreams come true. And I am not sure if democratic processes and transparency are something desired by him or his peers.
T.H.: In that case, is this just a symptom of a larger process ongoing in society, where the state is becoming an accountant within its own system, always looking at processes subsequently? Do we see a minimalist state that interferes as little as possible and actively subsidies private efforts, a passive state that takes very little responsibility for its own actions?
C.S.: That is the pleasure of contradiction: state-funded and state-enforced state minimalism. By paying an upfront amount of EUR 30,000,000, the politiciansseemed to feel relieved of any further financial involvement, as the museum will be run by the foundation subsequently. But in this special case, one should know that it was also a condition of the collector that he would only run the museum if there would be no influence from other parties on the content and the concept. And another point of our criticism was the open question-what would happen if the museum would not achieve the expected financial success? Then, of course, the state/city would be forced to jump in and take responsibility, like it already happened in a number of other questionable private-public partnerships.
¹ Tamm-tamm - Eine Anregung zur öffentlichen Diskussion über das Tamm-Museum, Informationskreis Rüstungsgeschäfte, Hamburg, Friedrich Möwe, 2005. ISBN 3-938372-03-6