2005, series of 5, ink print, screenprint
on frosted glass, each 50 x 40 cm, framed
Photo: Simon Vogel, Galerie Christian Nagel,
Grand Masters of Deception: Joachim Boilstedt (GMDT/II/2005)
The last few years leading up to his retirement had been somewhat unfulfilling for Joachim Boilstedt; since 1991 he had been working as a part-time gardener in the municipal parks in Saalfeld. So in the spring of 2002 the 63-year-old decided to become a cosmonaut. Boilstedt thus built a spaceship out of metal and plywood in his own garden and took off. He stayed in his rocket, which he had christened Mission Future, for 63 days. Boilstedt had thought of everything; his spaceship had an ingenious supply system—an electric cable supplied a mini television and a cooling box; he used a drainpipe to answer the call of nature; and his wife brought him supplies through a small porthole. “He likes semolina and rice pudding best,” she informed the local press. Through his peephole he told passing onlookers all about his voyage through outer space. It was pretty cramped in the spaceship, but here at least he didn’t have any problems with weightlessness. Everything stayed in its proper place. Boilstedt, who had been a driving instructor for tanks in the People’s Army, lectured a school class on the structure of the solar system and the possibilities of inhabiting Mars. He explained to a group of visitors from Fulda who happened to be passing by that he was an expert on Soviet space technology.
Grand Masters of Deception: Claus-Dieter Henning (GMDT/IV/2005)
When criminal investigation officers entered Claus-Dieter Henning’s small home in a concrete slab apartment block in Stralsund, they were bowled over by the dazzling collection of trophies, gold medallions, and impressive certificates on display. The police officers were particularly taken by a large golden chalice made out of brass and adorned with 24 fake rubies. The 35-year-old had painstakingly made all of this himself at home. According to his own statement, this took him two years. By the end the unemployed telecommunications engineer had begun to believe his own legend of himself as a genuine “Grand Master of Conflict Chess”—a sporting discipline of his own invention. After taking part in one of the many tournaments organized by the Orthodox Conflict Chess Foundation the man, who made a pleasant outward impression, always returned to Stralsund with one of his own trophies. The local patriot thus became a celebrated ambassador of his home town. In 2004 he even nominated himself for the Olympic Games in Athens and reported daily from the Olympic Village for the local Ostseewelle radio station—by mobile phone from his apartment in Stralsund. When he defeated the Russian Nikolai Garneyev after a tough battle, the readers of the Ostsee-Zeitung newspaper voted him “Sportsman of the Year 2004.” This brought Henning his first genuine award—a silver trophy.
Grand Masters of Deception: Christian Thyen (GMDT/V/2005)
“The man had a plastic Schlecker drugstore bag on his head; but strangely there was only one eyehole in it. And his weapon was quite obviously just a water pistol. Still, I didn’t want to take any chances. What puzzled us the most though was that all he wanted was a bit of small change,” reported the manager of the Regis-Breitingen branch of the Sparkasse savings bank following a robbery on August 12th, 2005. Her statement was made to the local police, who arrived at the scene of the crime a full 15 minutes later. In spite of this scant description, the culprit was soon identified as the unemployed milling machine operator Christian Thyen from the neighboring town of Deuzen. The 39-year-old was caught purely on account of the fact that he was the only one-eyed person in Regis-Breitingen and the surrounding area. He confessed to the crime immediately. He claimed not really to have wanted to rob the savings bank: “All I really did was to kind of imitate a bank robber,” he explained to amazed police officers. All he had wanted to do, he said, was to show how easy it was to take “others people’s hard-earned savings.” “It’s not fair. Being stupid and having a job, I suppose that must be the definition of happiness.” And he thought the police took far too long to arrive from Borna: “There wasn’t even a proper alarm.”