Displayed Words is an experiment in thinking with language, text, and poetry through digital and public formats. Who and what defines the space in which words are made legible and meanings are produced? How does the perception of text change from one medium to another? Displayed Words plays with the intelligibility of text and its manifold displays; it also poses questions pertaining to context within which literature and poetry can be perceived and understood. Finally, it asks how text is mediated, and in which language dominant discourse and literature are communicated in a metropolitan like Berlin. What about languages considered minoritarian, those one hears across the city in everyday encounters, such as Russian, Turkish, Arabic, Vietnamese, or Spanish …?

For its second edition, Displayed Words will take place at Bürgeramt Rathaus Tiergarten, where texts are presented on a digital display panel on the balcony above the main entrance. The Bürgeramt Rathaus is a site of bureaucracy pertaining to social existence that everyone will have to come across regardless of race, gender, class, religion, status, or background. The collaboration between CCA Berlin and Bezirksamt Mitte, in cooperation with the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program, focuses on displaying poetry in such a public site and brings together a group of writers/artists whose practice oscillates between different fields.


Curated by Fabian Schöneich, Nan Xi and Lou Ferrand (Jeunes Commissaires Fellowship 2023), CCA Berlin and Mathias Zeiske, DAAD.
Head of Department, District Office Mitte of Berlin, Office for Further Education and Culture:: Dr. Ute Müller-Tischler
Supported by Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Gesellschaftlichen Zusammenhalt, project funds from Draussenstadt and the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program. Animations and design by Ronnie Fueglister and Yves Graber, code by Lorenz Peter.





Displayed Words ist ein Experiment im Umgang mit Sprache, Text und Poesie durch digitale und öffentliche Formate. Wer und was definiert den Raum, in dem Wörter abgebildet und Bedeutungen erzeugt werden? Wie verändert sich die Wahrnehmung von Text von einem Medium zum anderen? Displayed Words spielt mit der Verständlichkeit von Text und seinen vielfältigen Darstellungen; es stellt Fragen nach dem Kontext, in dem Literatur und Poesie wahrgenommen und verstanden werden können. Schließlich fragt es, wie Text vermittelt wird und in welcher Sprache der dominante Diskurs und die Literatur in einer Metropole wie Berlin kommuniziert werden. Wie verhält es sich mit Sprachen, die als minoritär gelten und die man in der Stadt in alltäglichen Begegnungen hört, wie z. B. Russisch, Türkisch, Arabisch, Vietnamesisch, oder Spanisch…?

Die zweite Ausgabe von Displayed Words findet im Bürgeramt Rathaus Tiergarten statt, wo die Texte auf einer digitalen Anzeigetafel auf dem Balkon über dem Haupteingang präsentiert werden. Das Bürgeramt und Rathaus ist ein Ort, der unsere soziale Existenz bürokratisch gestaltet, und den jede* besuchen musste, unabhängig von Race, Gender, Klasse, Religion, Status und Herkunft. Die Zusammenarbeit zwischen CCA Berlin und dem Bezirksamt Mitte in Kooperation mit dem Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD konzentriert sich auf die Präsentation von Poesie an einem solchen öffentlichen Ort und bringt eine Gruppe von Schriftsteller*innen/ Künstler*innen zusammen, deren Praxis sich zwischen verschiedenen Bereichen bewegt.


Kuratiert von Fabian Schöneich, Nan Xi und Lou Ferrand (Jeunes Commissaires Stipendium 2023), CCA Berlin und Mathias Zeiske, DAAD.
Fachbereichsleiterin, Bezirksamt Mitte von Berlin, Amt für Weiterbildung und Kultur: Dr. Ute Müller-Tischler
Gefördert durch die Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Gesellschaftlichen Zusammenhalt aus Projektmitteln von Draussenstadt und unterstützt vom Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD. Animationen und Design by Ronnie Fueglister und Yves Graber, programmiert von Lorenz Peter.


by Don Mee Choi

Ahn Hak-sŏp #1

Mr. Ahn was a political prisoner from 1953 to 1995. He currently lives in a farming village within the Civilian Control Zone, on the South Korean side of the DMZ. The CCZ was created by a US Army commander in 1954, after the Korean War, and it remained relatively unpopulated till the 1980s. The new settlements in the CCZ are commonly referred to as “DMZ villages.” To enter the DMZ village near the city of Kimpo, west of Seoul, I had to pass a guard post manned by young soldiers. I also observed seemingly endless barbed-wire fencing across the rice fields. Ahn, now in his eighties, remains a North Korean sympathizer. Every time a missile is test-fired in North Korea—usually before or after the massive biannual, joint US and ROK military exercises—Ahn is placed under house arrest. I recorded Ahn and also scribbled in my notebook while listening to his life story at his house on December 23, 2016. I remain a daughter of neocolony.

Ahn Hak-sŏp #2

. . . May of 1957 . . . we started a hunger strike . . . there were 367 of us . . . someone said 368 . . . but I know it was 367 . . . we all signed on and organized the strike . . . first round, second round, third round, fourth round . . . we were beaten indiscriminately . . . our hands tied back . . . the guards still used Japanese words . . . lost our consciousness . . . and were thrown into solitary cells … threw cold water at us … when I woke up I was still alive … sounds of torture . . . second round . . . indiscriminate beatings . . . many dropped out . . . after the third and fourth and . . . indiscriminate beatings . . . everybody gave up . . . only 8 of us went all the way … we were ready to die … when your stomach stays empty for long … we were near starved to begin with . . . it churns . . . as if someone’s cutting it out . . . my comrade was in so much pain that he passed urine … only a few drops … nothing in him to come out … so we said … if you want to live, eat … we gave him water … in August someone from Central Intelligence came . . . suddenly our food ration was upgraded . . . you could even buy extra food if you had money . . . we could exercise . . . no one died from malnutrition anymore . . . all the prisons nationwide . . . but they kept the pressure on . . . torture . . . indiscriminate beatings . . . for instance . . . if you dropped your chopsticks or rice bowl . . . What’s that signal? . . . What’s that code? . . . they beat the shit out of us . . . they demanded meaning . . . meaning . . . yet meaningless . . . it was impossibly absurd . . . for instance . . . if you accidently dropped your wooden pillow at night . . . You signaled! . . . this comrade of mine was too frail … I said I was the one … these guys still used the Japanese word for a shotgun . . . my arms were not long enough . . . for a loop … for a shotgun to be tied … so they did it this way …

. . for instance . . . a neocolonial code . . .

. . . for instance . . . an anti-neocolonial code . . .

. . . for instance . . . . . . impossibly

. . . impossibly a loop

. . . impossibly a ribbon . . . impossibly, impossibly neocolonial . . .

. . . for instance . . .  . . . indiscriminate signs

. . . meaning, meaning, Mr.
. . . for instance . . . a few drops of urine . . . impossibly coded

Ahn Hak-sŏp #5

… the guards still used the Japanese word

… a dark cell
… no blankets
… stripped naked
… I couldn’t stretch my legs
… with a baton
… again and again

my square
my cosmos
my black hole

… one guard asked me
… what if communism collapses all over the world?
… I said
… that has nothing to do with my ideology

… so a gang of thugs was sent in to terrorize me
… my head cracked

… I was on Planet Nine
… the torturer asked me
… what if I smash Planet Nine into bits?
… I said
… even blood rusts

… on Planet Nine
… snow was pink
… flakes of scabs
… dunes of dandruff

… the torturer asked
… what if I smash your head to bits?
… I said
… e e e
… ideology

Don Mee Choi was born in Seoul, South Korea. Her DMZ Colony (Wave Books, 2020) received the National Book Award for Poetry. She is a recipient of fellowships from the MacArthur, Guggenheim, Lannan, and Whiting Foundations, as well as the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program and Picador Guest Professorship for Literature.

Selected texts and images from DMZ Colony by Don Mee Choi copyright © 2020 by Don Mee Choi. Reprinted by permission of the author and Wave Books.

Don Mee Choi wurde in Seoul, Südkorea, geboren. Ihr Buch DMZ Colony (Wave Books, 2020) wurde mit dem National Book Award for Poetry ausgezeichnet. Sie ist Stipendiatin der MacArthur-, Guggenheim-, Lannan- und Whiting-Stiftungen sowie des Berliner Künstlerprogramms des DAAD und der Picador-Gastprofessur für Literatur.

Ausgewählte Texte und Bilder aus DMZ Colony von Don Mee Choi copyright © 2020 von Don Mee Choi. Nachdruck mit Genehmigung der Autorin und Wave Books.