Norbert Bisky | RANT
VILLA SCHÖNINGEN, Potsdam, Germany | 9.11.2019–23.2.2020
“Without the fall of the Berlin Wall, I would never have become an artist.” To mark the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Wall, the artist Norbert Bisky will revisit the final days of the East Germany, the ensuing chaos and his own personal experiences in two simultaneous exhibitions in Berlin and Potsdam starting in November 2019.
Like many born in East Germany, the life of Norbert Bisky (*1970 in Leipzig) can be neatly divided into three parts: before, during and after the fall of the Wall. Born into a strictly socialist environment, he was held in the military prison in East Berlin as a deserter of the National People’s Army just after the Wall came down. Not until after the old system had imploded completely did he finally gain the freedom to envisage a future as an artist.
Bisky’s stance towards the East Germany was shaped indelibly from an early age by his experience of totalitarianism and arbitrariness. But his latest, highly personal works on the subject reach far beyond the processing of his own experiences: they show a country in which the binarity of East and West, long thought obsolete, is undergoing an unfortunate renaissance. As the title suggests, the RANT exhibition at Villa Schöningen highlights the vehemence of the current German-German trench warfare between the two sides.
Situated symbolically in the direct vicinity of Potsdam’s ‘Bridge of Spies’ in former East Germany, Villa Schöningen was not just of key historical significance for the necessary exchanges between the opposing sides; it was deliberately selected as the venue of choice for RANT. On show is a selection of Norbert Bisky’s newer graphic works and paintings that deal explicitly with the separation of the two Germanies. To coincide with the opening of the art show, Villa Schöningen Museum will celebrate its tenth anniversary.
St. Matthäus Kirche (St. Matthew’s Church) at the Berliner Kulturform was also located close to the Wall, albeit on the other side, and will provide the backdrop for the simultaneous POMPA exhibition. The title of the show refe-rences the ancient Roman tradition of segregating religious processions with gods and ancestral images according to class, profession and interests, and, in turn, a society divided by economics, media and politics.
POMPA focuses mainly on what followed the fall of the Berlin Wall, a period of euphoric departure marked by hedonism, greed and opportunism. A complex ceiling installation of older as well as more recent works covers a period of more than 25 years. Drawing the observer’s eye upward to a simulated skyscape, it raises the question of which gods we worship today? 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Bisky conjures up a dystopian scenario between past and present.