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DAU - Freiheit Fotografie aus dem „Institut“ (Charkiw)
DAU - Freiheit Fotografie aus dem „Institut“ (Charkiw) © Foto: Orlova
Top Event

DAU - Freedom: An installation by Ilya Khrzhanovsky

World premiere

DAU - FREIHEIT combines in a four-week unique city installation a social experiment that will change the perception of Berlin. In the historic city centre, in Berlin Mitte, currently the centre of the city characterized by various building projects, the temporary construction of a wall will create a zone that will become a special experience space for four weeks to open up historical echo spaces at the same time. An opportunity to open a political and social debate 29 years after the fall of the Wall on freedom and totalitarianism, surveillance, coexistence and national identity.


Erlebnisraum Projekt DAU: Von der Kommandantur bis zur Staatsoper, von der Straße Unter den Linden bis zur Französischen/Werderschen Straße und vom Spreekanal bis zum Bebelplatz.

Unter den Linden Berlin

The Berliner Festspiele are the organisers of the art project DAU, which is to take place as a four-week guest performance in the period between 12 October and 9 November (24 hours a day) in Berlin's Mitte district. The art project is being produced by Phenomen Film, which, together with the Berliner Festspiele, is conducting the necessary discussions and agreements with residents*and local institutions for the guest performance and the associated demarcation of the area by the temporarily reconstructed Berlin Wall.

This process is in full swing and, like the processing methods of the Berlin offices, creates the prerequisite for a unique penetration of urban life, European history and artistic fiction.

DAU The Film - A Gesamtkunstwerk (2009-2011)
From 1938 to 1968, the Soviet Union runs a top-secret "Institute for Physical Problems of the Soviet Academy of Sciences", which also employs the physicist and Nobel Prize winner Lev Landau (1908-1968).

In 2005 Russian film director Ilya Khrzhanovsky begins preparatory work for a singular film experiment. In Kharkiv, Ukraine, where Landau lived and taught from 1932 to 1937, Khrzhanovski founded "Das Institut", a gigantic 12,000 square metre laboratory and film set, actually a separate district in which up to 400 people live between 2009 and 2011.

While the original idea was developed from the life of Lev Laundau, its realization increasingly moved away from historical-biographical reality. Non-linear concepts of time and space as well as of man and nature permeate the work and life in the institute, building on research discourses on the principles of physics and mathematics elaborated there.

Over 700 hours of film material were produced in three years, from which 13 feature films and a large number of series have now been cut. Cinematographer Jürgen Jürges, who worked with Fassbinder, Wenders and Haneke, composer Brian Eno, performance artist Marina Abramović, director Romeo Castellucci, Massive Attack and celebrated conductor Teodor Currentzis were among the participants.

German voice over is currently being recorded in Berlin by prominent personalities. The films are not to be presented as a competition entry in a festival, but as an encounter with another reality created by a large-scale installation. The complete work will have its world premiere in Berlin even before Paris and London.

The directorIlya Khrzhanovsky, born on August 11, 1975 in Moscow, studied in Bonn and Moscow. His feature film debut "4" won him numerous awards - including a Golden Cactus and Tiger Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival; the prize for best director at the International Festival in Buenos Aires; the Grand Jury Award for best new director at the Seattle International Film Festival and a nomination for the European Film Prize of the Fassbinder Prize.

In 2005 Khrzhanovsky started working on the DAU project. In 2009, 400 people went back in time to the Soviet Union: simple street cleaners, waiters, families, famous artists, Nobel Prize winners and shamans. Cut off from the modern world, they lived and worked for over two years in a secret scientific institute. Here they discovered a familiar yet strange reality, transcending boundaries, both personal and scientific. They fell in love, betrayed friends, cheated on their partners, carried out experiments, were arrested, had children and got older.

Her journey through three decades of Soviet history ended in 1968 and the winter of 2011, when the extraordinary living conditions and experiences at the Institute were partially documented. None of the films was made according to a script, none was played by actors* - life in the institute became life in the film.

Berlin will open the world premiere course of DAU on October 12, 2018. Organisers are the Berliner Festspiele. Around the presentation of DAU in the Kronprinzenpalais Unter den Linden, a special experience space will be installed, which will encompass the area between Bebelplatz and Kommandantur.The motto of the four-week presentation in Berlin is "Freedom"; "Fraternity" will follow in Paris from 23 November 2018 and "Equality" in London at the beginning of 2019.

The idea is to define an area in Berlin-Mitte that temporarily becomes a self-contained city in the city, similar to the "Institute" that Ilya Khrzhanovsky built for the filming in Kharkiv. To this end, the recorded area is surrounded by a temporarily installed wall - it is an identical reconstruction of the original Berlin Wall. Within the area she encloses, a place is created that combines the fictitious world of the project with the concrete situation of the quarter and creates a narrative space the size of an urban quarter.

Berlin was a city cut by the wall - nowhere else has the conflict of the post-war empires intervened so directly in the reality of life of an urban population as here: Wall strips, blockades, escape victims, tunnels and watchtowers - the time of division has deeply engraved itself in the memory of the Berliners*. "Freedom" was never just a word in Berlin, but always a fragile, defensible, longed for and struggled for state. It is obvious and of great symbolic value that the DAU project is planning the start of its world premiere course in Berlin.

The site will be used from the Kommandantur (Bertelsmann representative office) to the Staatsoper, i.e. from Unter den Linden Street to Französische/Werdersche Straße and from the Spreekanal to Bebelplatz, where the area will be accessed via the underground car park. Life in the area goes on as usual - shops and restaurants are open, people go to work, etc... Elements of equipment (street design, lamps, signage, etc.) point to a second level, not to create a visual reference to the Soviet Union and/or GDR.

The aim is to give an impression of a trip to a foreign country. The premises of the Kronprinzenpalais are the main venue. The screenings of the film material will take place here, and the facade of the Kronprinzenpalais will be illuminated with a light installation that depicts the events inside in a live stream. However, in order to give visitors*inside the feeling of entering a parallel universe, the neighbouring buildings and outdoor play areas enclosed by the wall play a major role. The Schinkel Pavilion, the Bauakademie, the premises of the Barenboim-Said Academy with the Pierre Boulez Hall, the Q car park under Bebelplatz and the various open spaces between the buildings are to be included in the programme of events.

Visitors to the State Opera, the Pierre Boulez Hall, the Bertelsmann Representative Office and the Palais-Populaire of Deutsche Bank have access through extra entrances and do not come into contact with DAU activities in the area. In the entire area enclosed by the wall, a pedestrian zone will be set up that will only allow the traffic necessary for the residents* and institutions. The gates in the wall are manned around the clock and serve as access points for residents*, delivery traffic and emergency exits to evacuate the area in an emergency.

The wall is illuminated from the inside via lighting towers, and the outside area can be viewed over the wall via viewing platforms. In public space, a Shakespeare Theatre will be placed behind the Schinkel Pavillon, where readings, concerts and performances will take place from Monday to Sunday.

Kabinki", small single or double boxes, will be set up at various locations in the area, in which discussions will be held about the films and experiences in the area. Three café areas offer catering and technical assistance for all kinds of questions (help desk). In addition, mobile café units and food trucks are to be used.

There are no tickets to buy, but the visitors*inside must apply online for a (paid) visa. You can pick it up in the underground car park under Bebelplatz. Once visitors have received their visas, they exchange their mobile phone for a DAU device (smartphone without a network). Through this device every guest goes on a journey curated for him personally.The organizers thus have a precise overview of the number of guests and their distribution. The site will be accessible 24 hours a day. The DAU Device leads the visitors*inside to the program points like demonstration areas, Kabinki, to conference places for meetings with scientists*ins, which participated in the DAU project, to planned performances of Marina Abramović or Carsten holler, to a project of Romeo Castellucci or to concerts with Teodor Currentzis and its MusicaAeterna. All locations are only accessible by invitation through the Device.

The opening of the Wall on 9 November 1989 is spectacularly recalled by the actual opening and ritualized destruction of the Wall at the end of the project. The wall is designed on the inside by artists*inside and the Berliners*inside and their guests can knock out parts of the works of art as "wall woodpeckers" as souvenirs. Scheduling and necessary work to open the wall are coordinated in close consultation with the residents* and residents*.

Visitors register on the DAU website to obtain a visa:

  • a visitor visa grants two-hour access to the areaa
  • day visa grants 24 hours access to the area and a visit to the DAU events
  • a residence visa grants 72 hours access to the area and a visit to DAU events
  • a diplomatic visa is valid for the entire duration of the event and grants access to the area as well as attendance at DAU events
  • free honorary citizenship for residents* in the area
The visitor visa as well as the day visa are valid for a certain time window, so that a check of the total number of visitors is guaranteed at any time. The website tells visitors*inside where the area is located and where they can pick up their visa. Visitors* who decide spontaneously can apply for a visa at the issuing office without prior online registration. The visa issuing point is located on parking deck 1 of the parking garage under the Bebelplatz, which is completely closed for car use during the event period. DAU visitors or DAU visitors will have access to the deck via ramp 1 and will be directed to the following points of contact:

  • Issuance of visas applied for online
  • Last-Minute-Visa for spontaneous visitors*female
  • Delivery and secure storage of the personal telephone as well as output of the DAU device that guides visitors through the DAU event.
Via ramp 2 the visitors*in directly enter the area and find the entrance to the main venue Kronprinzenpalais via Oberwallstraße. There is no calendar of events from which visitors can take the activities in the area. Instead, it*er is guided through the DAU device. The Device suggests programme items to the visitor*inside, which he/she can accept or reject. The algorithm develops a profile based on the decisions of the visitor and can thus make individualized suggestions. It may be the case that Visitor 1 is invited to a scientific conference and Visitor 2 to a conversation with a pastor.

Similar to a video game, the more time the visitor spends in the area, the more levels he or she opens up. A data protection officer is entrusted with the handling of the data collected by the Device. At the venues, the admission staff checks whether the*visitor* is in the right place. In addition, a signpost guidance system will facilitate orientation in the area. The device enables the organizer to control the movement of visitors*within the area and thus prevent overcrowding of events or the formation of long queues. The*visitor*in can leave the area at any time by*selecting "Exit" via the device and being returned to the underground car park, where he*receives his personal belongings. The device also has an SOS function for emergencies.

For residents*, daily residents*inside and their visitors*inside there are easily accessible visitor*inside areas, parking facilities and residents*inside residents*who can be contacted around the clock. The same applies to residents and emergency services. All residents* inside and institutions included in the area receive of the project around the clock available partners*inside (Pat*innen) and a central telephone number as well as Mailadresse, in order to be able to hold any time consultation over the plannings. In addition, a confidential information service will be set up by e-mail to inform residents* about upcoming programmes.

  • Artistic direction and production DAU: Phenomen Berlin Filmproduktion GmbH, Ilya Khrzhanovsky and Susanne Marian
  • Event Management and Approvals DAU Freiheit: Compact-Team Event-Marketing-Concept GmbH, Gerald Ponesky
  • Organizer DAU Freiheit: Berliner Festspiele, Dr. Thomas Oberender (Director) and Charlotte Sieben (Commercial Director)
  • Consulting and representation: mediapool Veranstaltungsgesellschaft mbH, Prof. Siegfried Paul
Board / Partner for Berlin
  • X-Films Creative Pool, Tom Tykwer and Stefan Arndt
  • Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Kirsten Niehuus: Sponsor from the very beginning
  • Schinkel Pavillon, Nina Pohl: Venue and co-curator
The presentation is financed in all three cities by the London Phenomen Trust. Phenomen Trust was founded by Sergey Adoniev, a St. Petersburg-born entrepreneur who specializes in telecommunications and digital technologies and has supported the DAU project for many years. Chairman of the Foundation is the lawyer, author and scholar Prof. Dr. Anthony Julius, Chairman of the law firm Mishcon de Reya and Head of the Chair of Art and Law at University College London, which was recently established in his honour.

Event calendar

Find further information here

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