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Freizeit, 2019, Öl auf Leinwand, 130 x 170 cm
Freizeit, 2019, Öl auf Leinwand, 130 x 170 cm © Norbert Bisky - Photo Bernd Borchardt Copyright VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn Courtesy the artist and KÖNIG GALERIE
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Without the fall of the Berlin Wall, I would not have become an artist: In November 2019, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the painter Norbert Bisky looks back at the end of the GDR, the chaos of the post-reunification era, and his personal experience in two parallel exhibitions in Berlin and Potsdam.  


Villa Schöningen

Berliner Straße 86 14467  Potsdam

The career of Norbert Bisky (*1970 in Leipzig) can - typical of many East German biographies - be divided into a Before, an In between, and a After: Growing up in a strictly socialist environment, he was locked up as an NVA deserter in the East Berlin military prison shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Only the implosion of the old system gave him the freedom to think of a future as an artist. The experience of totality and arbitrariness shaped Bisky's engagement with the GDR from an early age.

However, his new, very personal works on the subject extend far beyond the processing of personal experiences: they show a country in which the actually long outdated binarity of East and West is currently experiencing a sad renaissance. The term "RANT", borrowed from net jargon, refers as the title of the exhibition to the emotional vehemence of current German-German trench warfare.  

With its symbolic location in the immediate vicinity of the Potsdam "Agent Bridge", Villa Schöningen in the former eastern part of Germany is not only a historical key location for the necessary exchange between oppositional fronts, but also a deliberately chosen venue for the exhibition "RANT". At the same time as the opening, the museum is celebrating its 10th anniversary.   St. Matthew's Church at the Berlin Cultural Forum, in whose sacred room the parallel exhibition "POMPA" is shown, was once close to the Wall - but on the other side. The title alludes to the tradition of ancient Rome of segregating religious processions with images of gods and ancestors strictly according to classes, classes, and interests, thus referring in turn to an economically, medially, and politically divided society.  

The focus of "POMPA" is on the post-reunification period, a period of euphoric upheaval marked by hedonism, greed and opportunism. An elaborate ceiling installation of older and new works directs the gaze upwards into a fictitious sky landscape: Which gods do we pay homage to today? 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Norbert Bisky thus stages a dystopian scenario between yesterday and today.

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