Australian Video Art Archive

Penelope Trotter


Cold romeo

00:08:58 1997

During the Cold War Romeo agents were enlisted by The East German Stasi to seduce secretaries and secretarial students around France and Germany. A few months into their relationships the secretaries were paid a visit by The Stasi and were told that if they ever wanted to see their lovers again they would need to try out for government secretarial positions in West Germany and supply information to the Stasi. Some of these Romeo agent relationships lasted for up to twenty years, after this time many of the secretarial spies realized their lovers were simply using them.

Cold Romeo was a time based performance installation piece that was designed to operate as part of the Subterranea Banquet in the underground of Melbourne’s Spencer Street Railway station for the duration of five hours. Maps and photographs that delineated some of the actual secretarial spies’ stories were included as part of the installation. For the duration of this performance I carried out secretarial tasks as if I were employed by the West German Embassy. Included in this performance action was the task of repetitively typing “Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou Romeo?” This performance/installation was designed to display the implications of such a gross act of human usage.

'The spy who loved her', in The Guardian,, accessed 20/10/2008

DVD available