Curated by Dr. Gerald Matt, in cooperation with Kunsthalle Wien
Ilya & Emilia Kabakov
Foreword exhibition Potsdam
1989 is a fateful year - also for Villa Schöningen, that house on Glienicke Bridge, at the interface between Berlin and Potsdam, between East and West, where American and Soviet agents were exchanged in front of the camera eyes of the world during the Cold War. In 1989 the children who were housed in the week-end home on the German-German border, witnessed the peaceful revolution, saw how surprisingly cars suddenly drove over the white strip that was shortly before the death strip. 1989 is the name of the first exhibition with which the villa will be opened as a German-German museum on November 9, 2009 - a project in cooperation with the Kunsthalle Wien, or in other words, a satellite of the exhibition in Vienna.
Why Potsdam, why this strange house Villa Schöningen? The epochs and episodes are deposited like annual rings on a tree on the Italian tower villa built in 1843 by Ludwig Persius, the architect of the Prussian court: founded on the aesthetic whim of a romantic king, animated and inhabited by the Jewish co-founder of Deutsche Bank, the location of the Art, then a victim of German Nazis and Russian communists, later a socialist GDR childcare facility, finally "almost" victim of a real estate development idea.
Villa Schöningen was Villa Kunterbunt and Villa death-sad. The ruin, which was almost ready for demolition, has now been carefully restored in accordance with the preservation order, a museum - a public place of history, art and freedom. The result is a small, exclusively privately financed art and history museum for everyone. Not with a didactically raised index finger, but lively, using modern technologies and contemporary references. The founder of the German Historical Museum, Christoph Stölzl, and the American art collector Ronald Lauder helped to find the right way, to find one's own tone.
The exhibition concept is based on two special pillars: the use of computer screens as the central medium for photographs, texts and films; and the call to the people of Potsdam and Berlin to tell stories in front of the camera as contemporary witnesses that they themselves experienced around the Glienicker Bridge and the villa. History is not presented from above, not as an intimidating science for experts, but as an inviting mosaic, as an image in which many contribute and which can be expanded further and further.
In the exhibition Spies, Mauer, Kinderheim - on the bridge between the worlds, the horror of totalitarian regimes can be felt. Perpetrators have their say as well as victims and observers. History and stories are only understandable and moving if they are related to the present, which is why there is a second level in the Museum Villa Schöningen: on the first floor there is space for contemporary art, which in the broadest sense deals with the themes of the location busy - Cold War, German division, German unity, totalitarianism and democracy, bondage and freedom. And then just in 1989. Here changing exhibitions are shown by different curators, who add questions, perhaps disturbing, but perhaps also reassuring things to the experiences in the exhibition on the ground floor.
It all begins with the 1989 exhibition, curated by Gerald Matt and conceived and implemented in close collaboration with the Kunsthalle Wien from the very beginning. Special thanks go to the participating artists Rainer Ganahl, Stephan Huber, Anna Jermolaewa, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Josephine Mackseper, Boris Mikhailov, Marcel Odenbach, Martin Parr, Susan Philipsz, Marek Piwowski, Neo Rauch and Pedro Reyes as well as the lenders: Unter private collectors like Elizabeth Dee, New York, Jutta and Claus Claussen, Tübingen, Christiane and Martin Middeke, Munich and Paul Schwenk, Haigerloch as well as the galleries of Isabella Bortolozzi, Miriam Charim and Lisa Ungar (CUC Berlin), Reinhard Hauss, Andreas Osarek (Galerie Crone), Thaddaeus Ropac and Nicola von Senger. The Essl Museum and the Deutsche Bank Collection also supported the exhibition with loans, and for this we would like to thank Karl-Heinz and Agnes Essl, Ines Ratz, Andrea Wintoniak and Friedhelm Hütte in particular.
1989 in Vienna and Berlin / Potsdam - these are two points of reference for an idea. Today you can see the concrete effects of the fall of the Wall and the Iron Curtain at both locations. Both places, the economic and cultural hub Vienna as well as the formerly divided German capital Berlin and its neighboring town Potsdam, are witnesses of a turning point that ushered in the end of a dark and the beginning of a new chapter in European history. To condense the artistic reflex of these upheavals in an exhibition concept that does not proceed in a banal narrative, but rather associatively, so to speak, from the edges to the core of the events and which touches the genius loci of the exhibition locations, that was Gerald's self-imposed task Frosted.
We are very grateful to him, not only for the exhibitions that visitors will be able to visit in Vienna and Berlin / Potsdam over the next few months, but also for the countless valuable advice that Gerald Matt gave us in the conception and design of the Museum Villa Schoeningen gave. He has become one of the most important midwives of this new and completely independent museum. Special thanks also go to curator Catherine Hug and other employees of the Kunsthalle Wien such as Synne Genzmer and Mario Kojetinsky. You have made a decisive contribution to the fact that the first exhibition in the Villa Schöningen and the accompanying catalog are not only an exciting project in terms of content, but that the preparations for it have also been so much fun. Our dream would be that the Villa Schöningen, this witness of history torn between Berlin and Potsdam, between East and West, will become what the house and its garden have never been until today: a happy place of freedom. A start was made with 1989 in 2009.