Skulpturenpark Berlin_Zentrum 2021
August - December 2021
Participating Artists: Salwa Aleryani, Dirk Dresselhaus & Tomoko Nakasato, Doris Dziersk, Lydia Karagiannaki, Folke Köbberling, Lukas Matthaei, Julian Oliver, Sebastian Quack, Kai Schiemenz, Zorka Wollny, Boris Jöns & KUNSTrePUBLIK.
“Return” can mean “to come back” as well as “profit” or “yield.” This dual meaning sets the tone in terms of content and program for this year’s exhibition series at Skulpturenpark Berlin_Zentrum.
The artist collective KUNSTrePUBLIK, focused since 2012 on establishing its Center for Art and Urbanism (ZK/U) in Moabit, now returns to an area in the center of Berlin, which was razed by bombing in World War II then—as a part of the “death strip” or “no man’s land” along the Berlin Wall—separated East and West Berlin during the Cold War era. Following the reunification of Germany in 1990, this inner-city wasteland between Spittelmarkt and Moritzplatz remained unused for many years. In 2006 KUNSTrePUBLIK claimed it under the name Sculpture Park Berlin_Zentrum, and realized there until 2010 four exhibition series comprising around thirty temporary art projects, various discursive events, and accompanying publications. Each series took a fresh thematic angle on the functional, formal, historical, and sociocultural conditions of the site, in the light of its particular situation.
Today, the former 5-hectare Skulpturenpark Berlin_Zentrum is entirely built up, except for one small patch of wasteland. Only one house was still standing there in 2006, but the new development now houses around 3'000 residents. The return of KUNSTrePUBLIK sheds light on paradigmatic developments at the site and simultaneously examines the overall social impact of the new “residential quarter.”
The real estate developers have created new values. Which characteristics and added value have come about? What has been upgraded, and for whose benefit? Can any of the results be regarded as beneficial for the city? Which value chains and economic effects have been generated there, and with which positive or negative consequences for society as a whole? Does the new residential development on the site really function as a brand-new neighborhood? What is missing there, and who gets to define that?
Today, only very few of the new residents on this former wasteland know that their apartments are located in a sculpture park and that they too are thus a sculptural component in an overarching narrative. One could argue that the new development is one of the world’s most voluminous twenty-first-century sculptures. The Skulpturenpark Berlin_Zentrum has evolved as a kind of “museum island,” on which the new residents and their lifescapes are assembled as the main exhibits in a model contemporary Gesamtkunstwerk: a social sculpture of the present day, hidden behind the stage-set-like facades of so-called investor architecture, such as can be found in many places in Berlin and worldwide.
As a prototype for many places in contemporary metropolises, we have created here on the grounds of the Skulpturenpark Berlin_Zentrum a model for investigating processes of transformation steered by the market economy—a real-time laboratory dedicated to artistic and scientific exploration.