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Countering Franklin

The House of World Cultures building is an architectural icon of Western post-war modernism. As a political symbol, its history has history has been inscribed on its walls and ramparts in a variety of ways.

This ideologization can be seen in the fact that the Congress Hall, built as the U.S. contribution to Interbau 1957, was given as a gift to the city of West Berlin by the U.S. in the context of the Cold War, and also in its architecture and, more specifically, in a quotation from Benjamin Franklin on the wall of the main foyer.

The HKW aims to highlight the limitations of Franklin's quote and the violent, imperial vision inherent in it, as well as to question the paradigmatic implications of the almost casual reference to the colonial script in the name of universalist values.

The HKW recognizes the need for other perspectives to address the monumentality, permanence, and ideological charge of the quotation, and to engage in a critical discussion of Franklin's authority over the building and the institutions within it.

To do so, the House is inviting more than a dozen distinguished figures from diverse disciplines and geographies to contribute their own quotations in response to Franklin's statement. They will be displayed in the form of a longer-term installation designed by Studio Yukiko around the Franklin quote in the HKW foyer.
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