The Fifth Wall

An exhibition project by Mareike Bernien and Merle Kröger

The doors of the public broadcasting services in Germany are opening. An immense treasure trove of educational content, historical documents and film history lies behind them. In order to make this content accessible to a diverse public, models of future archival practice are required.

With The Fifth Wall, Mareike Bernien and Merle Kröger present a pioneering project of artistic research and an examination of a unique TV archive. The Fifth Wall gathers films, reportages, moderations, texts, letters and photos by the filmmaker and editor Navina Sundaram from over 40 years of her work in television. Sourced from ARD archives and Sundaram’s private archive, The Fifth Wall is a curated look at German migration and media history. Navina Sundaram (1945–2022) is thus the prime focus as an author who takes a journalistic stand: on internationalism and decolonisation, the question of class, racism, immigration, on Indian and German politics.

In the Betonhalle, The Fifth Wall is transferred into the exhibition space. Along five thematic islands, Bernien and Kröger open up a viewing and discussion platform that poses questions about migration, gender relations and post-colonial structures, among other things, and relates them to current debates about documentary film, journalistic ethics and the medium of television.

The Fifth Wall already exists as a comprehensive digital archive. It is at once a non-linear biography, television archive and research platform, offering a wealth of additional information on the project context.

programme booklet for the exhibition



4.–14.7. Exhibition I Betonhalle
Opening Hours: Mo–Fri, 2–8 pm / Sat–Sun, 11 am – 8 pm, free admission

4.7. Seminar | THE FIFTH WALL: Researching with a digital archive (closed event) 
Seminar with Urmila Goel and students of European Ethnology and Gender Studies at Humboldt University.  |5 pm, Atelier

4.7. Opening 
A welcome by silent green and the curators will be followed by a performative reading by the violinist Kathy Nierenz and visual artist Bärbel Rothhaar. Urmila Goel will then talk about persons named after Navina and interviewed for the digital archive. |7 pm, Betonhalle
5.7. Seminar | THE ONLINE ARCHIVE ON NAVINA SUNDARAM: A resource and space for reflection on new perspectives on Indian-German media history 
Nadja Christina Schneider and MA students from the Humboldt University's Global Studies, Gender Studies and Asian/African Studies programs visit and work in the exhibition space.|1:30 pm–3 pm (tbc), Betonhalle

5.7 Symposium | WORLD ON FIRE! And that is precisely why we are working with archives!
Living archives are places of networking, research and collaboration across borders. Taking Navina Sundaram's estate as an example, we have invited a panel of experts to report on their practice and develop possible perspectives in an open dialogue with the audience. A prior visit to the exhibition is recommended. |4 pm – 7:15 pm, Betonhalle

Guests: Alexandra Schneider, Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz; Britta Lange, Institut für Kulturwissenschaften, Humboldt- Universität zu  Berlin; Minu Haschemi Yekani, Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut, Freie Universität  Berlin; Nadja-Christina Schneider, Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Sonja Hegasy, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient; Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V.; Urmila Goel, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, Humboldt- Universität zu Berlin; Volker Pantenburg, Universität Zürich, Harun Farocki Institut

Roshan Dhunjibhoy & Hans-Günther Oesterreich, 1976, Radio Bremen, 45:00 min. Expedition nach Germanistan is a satire on the reporting by foreign correspondents for German television and the image of the FRG from the perspective of „the other“. The film will be followed by a 10-minute studio talk with Roshan Dhunjibhoy. |7:30 pm, Betonhalle

6.7. Workshop | STORIES OF NURSES FROM KERALA (closed event) Workshop by Masala Movement e.V. on building a digital oral history archive on the recruitment of nurses from Kerala in South India in the 1960s and 80s. |10 am – 6 pm , Kubus

Students of Humboldt University’s European Ethnology and Gender Studies programmes present the research projects they carried out as part of the seminar The Fifth Wall: Researching with a digital archive.|5–6.30 pm, Betonhalle

Sundaram’s film documents a theatre workshop in Kasauli, India. The participants are developing a scenic manifesto on the basis on contemporary feminist theory. Film screening followed by discussion in English, German OV with English subtitles |7:30 pm, Betonhalle

Guests: Madhusree Dutta, filmmaker, author and curator; Ponni Arasu, queer-feminist performer, activist, scientist

13.7. Panel | “I THINK YOU CAN'T LOOK AWAY THEN!”: Navina Sundaram, the case of Kemal Altun and the work of journalists of colour in the media today
Review of material and discussion with journalist Omid Rezaee, as well as authors Sun-Ju Choi and Merle Kröger. Presented in cooperation with Neue Deutsche Medienmacher*innen |7:30 pm, Betonhalle

14.7. Guided tour of the exhibition with the curators
Followed by an open discussion on feminist perspectives in the archive|2–3 pm, Betonhalle


Dossier about the Fifth Wall by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (bpb).


Thursday–Sunday, July 4–14
Opening: Thursday, July 4, Doors: 6.30 pm, Start: 7 pm
Opening Hours: Mo–Fri, 2–8 pm / Sat–Sun, 11 am–8 pm
Admission free


Headphones by

The exhibition The Fifth Wall is a project of silent green Film Feld Forschung gGmbH.
Supported by the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Social Cohesion