Michaela Melián, aufheben

Soundpiece at the Hans Otte. Klanghaus and the Museum tunnel

01.04.2024 - 30.08.2026
A large, white, empty room with a pointed gable. Light falls through the windows at the front.
Michaela Melián, aufheben, 2021, 11:30 min., loan by the artist at the Hans Otte. Klanghaus

In various languages and with different emphases, Michaela Mélian’s (*1956, lives near Munich) acoustic work lays out the diverse, in some cases contradictory meanings of the German verb aufheben which serves as its title:

  • aufheben – in the sense of “to cancel, liquidate, abrogate, annul, invalidate”
  • aufheben – in the sense of “to preserve, store, put aside, keep, safeguard, maintain”
  • aufheben – in the sense of “to collect, pick up, gather, raise, elevate.”

Thus the multiple meanings of the single verb aufheben indicate the possibility of revealing various delimitations and contradictory standpoints and of transcending them in such a way as to open up new perspectives in thought and action. Viewed against the background that Michaela Mélian often focuses her artistic production on an investigation of the National Socialist era, the term aufheben connects up with the oscillation of memory between repudiation and preservation and derives therefrom a host of significant insights. The installation was created as part of the project The White White West by Burg Hülshoff – Center for Literature.

Most recently, Michaela Melián created another work relating to the National Socialist era: a memorial to the prisoner of war and forced labour camp was created in the former Ulrichsschuppen in Bremen’s Getreidehafen, which has officially been unveiled on 10 April 2024.

At the Weserburg, the work aufheben can be heard at two locations which could not be more divergent in the spatial experience they offer. On the one hand, in the Hans Otte. Klanghaus on Level 4 ½, where visitors basically move through the work itself and are entirely surrounded by it. And on the other hand in the public space, namely within the tunnel on the left in front of the entrance to the museum, where aufheben is accessible to everyone but can only be experienced when passersby bring an ear up close to a hole in the wall and deliberately listen.

The artwork involves 66 speakers in 32 languages.


Altamirano, Anna Afijan, W Afijan, Jörg Albrecht, Remi Alkali, Bilge Aksac, Eda Aslan, Sven Beckstette, Oliver Bulas, Gaspard Catteau, Stephan Dillemuth, Gürsoy Dogtas, Annika Dorau, Jeanne Faust, Roberta Zoë Faust, Runa Feddersen, Junya Fujita, Björn Gailus, Dörte Habighorst, Lennart Häusser, Manuel Hafner, Ahmad Hamad, Alexander Iliashenko, Shahira Issa, Hugh James, Benjamin Janzen, Luisa Kleemann, Katrin Köhler, Nikita Kotliar, Lila-Zoé Krauß, Eve Larue, Sophia Leitenmayer, Anki Lepper, Xinyi Li, Yi Li, Justin Lieberman, Charlotte Livine, Hanne Loreck, Takeo Marquardt, Juno Meinecke, Thomas Meinecke, Wolfgang Müller, Fritzi Magic Ngceni, Pakama Ngceni, Julia Nordholz, Josie Overton, Florentine Pahl, Alice Peragine, Judith Rau, Kevin Saint Pere, Liz Schröder, Maya Schweitzer, Ariana Laila Sharif, Adnan Softic, Nuri Softic, Holger Steen, Dominik Styk, Luísa Telles, Laila Unger, Frederik Vium, Rados Vujaklija, Moritz Walker, Badrieh Wanli, Annie Weichselbaum, Nerea Wüst, Shuchang Xie


Egyptian, Albanian, Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese, Danish, Dari, German, English, French, Greek, Hebrew, Xhosa, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Pashto, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Swiss German, Serbian, Slovakian, Spanish, Syrian, Taiwanese, Czech, Turkish, Ukrainian


Portrait Michaela Melián
Michaela Melián, Photo: Jörg Koopmann

Michaela Melián is an artist and musician who lives in Munich and Hamburg. She teaches as a professor for for time-based media at the Hochschule für bildende Künste (HfbK), Hamburg. In 2018, she received the Rolandpreis für Kunst im öffentlichen Raum, which is awarded by the Stiftung Bremer Bildhauerpreis.

Hans Otte. Klanghaus

Between 1989 and 1991, the renowned Bremen composer for new music Hans Otte developed the  interactive sound installation Klanghaus for the gabled room on level 4 ½ of the Weserburg. Visitors were offered the possibility of proceeding through eight different acoustic zones, all of which corresponded in some way to “breath, wind, prana, white or oceanic noise” (Hans Otte). The multifaceted qualities of the sound were activated by motion detectors.

After three decades of constant presence, it was no longer possible, because of its outdated technology, to present this sound installation in the form originally conceived by Hans Otte. Thus it became necessary to switch off the work once and for all. However, the name of the space remains as Hans Otte. Klanghaus (“Hans Otte. Sound-House”).

And acoustic art maintains its presence as well. In commemoration of this work by Hans Otte that was so important for the history of the Weserburg, the room will also remain dedicated to sound in the future. Since the beginning of 2024, it has been possible to hear contemporary sound pieces by international artists here.

The sound installations are complemented by two textual works created by the American artist Lawrence Weiner (*1942) and affixed to the lateral walls of the room.