Historic hangars of Tempelhof Airport host major European art exhibition Diversity United
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Historic hangars of Tempelhof Airport host major European art exhibition Diversity United
Sheila Hicks, LIBERATING REALITY, 2020, Acryl, Holz, Leinen, 8 Elemente, ø je 100 cm, Gesamtmaße variabel, Courtesy the artist.

BERLIN.- The major European exhibition Diversity United transforms the iconic halls of Tempelhof Airport in Berlin into a temporary exhibition space. Diversity United is open to visitors until September 19.

90 artists, 34 countries, 1 continent in dialogue

In a time of global crisis and declining civil discourse, art can inspire people to engage with socio-political issues. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the central themes of the exhibition have become more urgent than ever before: freedom and globalization, the importance and decline of democracy, solidarity and antagonism. How do artists from different generations and backgrounds respond to today‘s pressing issues, and to Europe‘s past and future? Their works are commentaries on the themes of power and equality, migration and territory, political and personal identity – and on the recurring question of Europe’s role in the world.

Unfolding over nine chapters, each with a distinct thematic focus, the exhibition nevertheless boasts an open structure: dreams & democracy, crisis & resistance, memory & conflict, dialogues & diaries, power & equality, action & abstraction, landscapes & mindscapes, borders & boundaries, futures & enlightenment.

10 internationally active curators from Germany, Finland, France, UK, Austria and Russia have developed the exhibition and pose questions surrounding the Europe of today, a continent with historically evolved ties and cultural traditions in upheaval.„What is represented by contemporary Europe? What does it mean to us? Under which circumstances could it be understood as a unity? To what extent can one rely on solidarity, respect and mutual acceptance? Some ninety artists, artist couples and collectives from all over Europe have taken a stand in articulating, commenting on and answering these and many other questions.“ The participating artists live and work or where born in the following countries: Albania, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Kosovo, Croatia, Latvia, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, Hungary, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

The exhibition was realized by the Stiftung für Kunst und Kultur in Bonn. Walter Smerling, chairman of the foundation and speaker of the board of curators: "At Tempelhof Airport we are looking into the artistic face of Europe. Each artist has their own language, which together form a powerful chorus; it was important to us that diversity and unity are equally perceptible and that the exhibition functions as a harmony of many voices. From the point of view of the curators and participating artists, this has been achieved - now we are looking forward to the dialogue with the visitors.“

Focus on New Works

A large number of artists are represented with new works especially created for Diversity United: Yael Bartana (b. Israel), Bluesoup (Alexei Dobrow, Daniil Lebedew, Alexander Lobanov, b. former USSR), Christian Boltanski (b. France), Pia Fries (b. Switzerland), Antony Gormley (b. UK), Manuel Graf (b. Germany), Sheila Hicks (b. USA), Ilya & Emilia Kabakov (b. former USSR), Patricia Kaersenhout (b. Netherlands), Peter Kogler (b. Austria), Irina Korina (b. former USSR), Alicja Kwade (b. Poland), Goshka Macuga (b. Poland), Kris Martin (b. Belgium), Katja Novitskova (b. Estonia), Dan Perjovschi (b. Romania), Agnieszka Polska (b. Poland), Tal R (b. Israel), Fernando Sánchez-Castillo (b. Spain), Tristan Schulze (b. Germany), Jan Svenungsson (b. Sweden), Martina Vacheva (b. Bulgaria), Erwin Wurm (b. Austria) and Yan Pei–Ming (b. China).

Art at the airport

With Tempelhof Airport a venue has been chosen, which in itself is also imbued with historic significance. Jutta Heim-Wenzler, Managing Director of the Tempelhof Projekt GmbH: “Tempelhof Airport is Europe’s largest iconic, imposing monument and a mirror of Europe’s history. It is gradually being developed into a hub for art, culture and creativity. I am thrilled that we are permitted to be the stage for this exciting exhibition embracing contemporary European art. Which other space would be more suitable than this gateway to the world?” Erected in its present form between 1936 and 1941 as a monument to National Socialism’s self-expression, Tempelhof after the war became a symbol of freedom through the Berlin air bridge and the flight of many thousands of people from the Soviet sector or the GDR. Until 2008, Tempelhof was in service as an airport: since 1995, the complex of buildings is listed as a protected monument. Around 8,000m² of Hangars 2+3 have been transformed into a temporary exhibition space especially for Diversity United.

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