Human Commodity – Ware Mensch (2022)

Human Commodity – Ware Mensch is a sonic bike opera that looks beyond the facades of some of Berlin’s buildings and into their history of forced labour during the Nazi regime.
Human Commodity-Ware Mensch
It was a collaboration with and commission by Spreehalle and the Dokumentationszentrum NS Zwangsarbeit as part of the launch of their app Human Commodity.

The music was made through a workshop with newly arrived to Berlin teenagers, teachers Margareth Kammerer and Inna Riazanova and Matthews, where together they explored and shared dreams and sounds for the future.  Then using archived text from forced labourers that trigger as you pass by the locations, Matthews wove and processed these fragmented dichotomies into a whole, mapping them into a new listening composition that unfolds as you ride.

The eleven students involved – Artem, Jaklin, Katarina, Kyrylo, Manya, Nazila, Nichita, Paiman, Sacha, Thaitu, Vitalie and Yamn, are from the Georg Klingenberg School, Berlin. Occasional instrumental fragments contributed were composed by Marc Sinan from locations on the app.


The sonic bikes contributed to this city wide project by offering an audio ride from the Dokumentationszentrum in Schoneweide, passing ten of the forced labour locations including the Eiershäuschen in Plänterwald, the first three shown above, then back along the Spree, crossing it to Oberschöneweide and the AEG factories, past Spreehalle, back over the Kaisersteg built with forced labour, and so returning to the Doku.


The sonic bikes for this performance were on loan from the KunstMuseum, Magdeburg, Germany.  Human Commodity – Ware Mensch will be BRI-Matthews 22nd international sonic bike composition.  Matthews designed the original sonic bike in 2008. This is the BRI’s 3rd version.

Many thanks to all for your generous support, kindness and patience throughout.


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