Curated by Max Hollein
Berlin, its outstanding art and gallery scene, has shown in recent years the power and fascinating diversity with which contemporary art can occupy space, generate attention and have an impact in this metropolis. The unique and identity-creating position that the numerous artists in the German capital now have - and may even be forced upon them - is formative for the entire urban fabric.
Potsdam, the neighboring city of the palaces and gardens, is an official world cultural heritage site, contemporary art plays a subordinate, perhaps even no role here. For some, this may even be a blessing. Now, in and around the Potsdam Villa Schöningen, a central location that, like few others, not only contains a changeable section of German history, but also speaks of the changing times and the opportunities that arise, contemporary art should also be an element of the Become identity. Some may wonder whether contemporary art has to be in Potsdam, in the midst of the historical grounds. The need to vehemently affirm this and to act accordingly arises from these very special identities of the place and its development. The aim of the Villa Schöningen is not only to be a house of remembrance, but also a happy place of freedom, not just a space of history but also of the present.
This is certainly a very interesting exhibition opportunity for artists. How often do you get the chance to find a place for contemporary art in the midst of a world cultural heritage, in the midst of an ensemble of overall conceptual aesthetics, in the midst of a romantic palace and garden landscape? In this respect, the garden of Villa Schöningen is a spatial feature with numerous historical connotations, but also with potential for impact and freedom of development - an extraordinary base for contemporary art.
The particular advantage of the situation lies elsewhere, however. It is freedom, even nonchalance, that the specific structure offers. The owners of the "house", who are said to have a certain tendency towards leadership and control in their professional environment, want to give free rein to art in Villa Schöningen and are obviously up for almost any experiment with an extraordinary enthusiasm. With the rather rudimentary intention that contemporary art should also have its place in the garden of the historic villa, so that it should fundamentally shape the location, they left the further action to the energy of the galleries and artists. In such a spontaneous and freely developing activity, a first ensemble of sculptures was put together in a very short time. In just a few weeks, as part of a "group dynamic" process, which was primarily shaped by the enthusiastic commitment and attention of the artists, an ensemble of special works came together that will now take possession of the garden of Villa Schöningen for some time.
The two operators of the Villa Schöningen have saved this place through patronage, rebuilt it and now they are making an experiment out of it, perhaps - with regard to the open way of acting - also one with themselves. Both truly have enough public attention, they act in the normal life in a very exposed place in the media and financial world. In the context of their social commitment to this museum, they are all the less concerned with personal recognition or social status. Rather, it is the intention of Villa Schöningen to evoke movement, development, joy and inspiration at this neuralgic point in German history. The garden of this historical place should also be open to the public, not a hortus conclusus, but an expanding field of possibilities that needs to be further developed. Villa Schöningen is owned by two extremely committed citizens, Villa Schöningen is owned by the public - and now also by art.