Art in wartime: bridge builders or ‘machines’? |

Status: 04/02/2022 3:56 PM

The Venice Biennale begins – and the war in Ukraine shaped the art show, too. Should art be political or not? A conversation with the new Director of the Bucerius Kunst Forum, Catherine Baumstark.

Mrs. Baumstark, 2023 should be the year of the woman in your house. What does that mean specifically?

Catherine Baumstark: I would have preferred not to get the title this year – at some point everyone would have come out with it themselves. Because it’s not about gender, it’s about notable painters, artists, and photographers. We start in February with Gabriel Münter. This is a big heart project for me, I’ve been working on it for a few years now. This great Expressionist artist is finally coming to Hamburg, and she has never appeared here before.

In the summer, we’re joined by Lee Miller, a photographer who started out as a model, as an inspiration. They dated Man Ray – this is the story that many still remember. But she was in fact one of the greatest war photographers of the 20th century and was in a number of concentration camps that had just been liberated. Many may know the photo in Hitler’s bathtub. A very brave, great photographer we can show. This will be a retrospective showcasing her entire body of work, from still-lived 1920s surrealism to German war crimes during World War II. But also towards the end of her life, when she is affected by the experiences of war, she withdraws and puts the camera completely to one side.

video: Artist Artem Volokitin depicts the war in Ukraine (5 min)

At this year’s Venice Biennale, the Russian Pavilion will remain empty – the two artists have pulled out. For a long time it was not clear whether the Ukrainian contribution could be made despite the war. he can. The 78 funnels of Pavlo Markov’s aquatic installation arrived in Venice on time via adventurous routes.
Biennale director Cecilia Al Yamani wants the Biennale to remain a space for dialogue. “Unfortunately, now Russian art has come to Ukraine with tanks and missiles,” says Pavlo Markov. “We are trying to save our culture from complete distortion. So I don’t feel like I can talk to you now. The only place where we can now have a dialogue is the front.”
How do you see that? Tear down bridges or keep talking?

tree size: I find it difficult to comment on this in my safe situation here in Germany. I always find it rude to judge. But I am someone who believes that dialogue is very important, that it is important to keep in touch, and that it is important to be in touch with each other. I’m not a fan of nationalists and such. So I think art is the field that should and should remain very free. Art in particular succeeds in engaging in dialogue across intellectual or national boundaries.

Is this topic being discussed extensively in the art scene now?

tree size: Of course, it is clearly a problem. The Ukraine war may have accelerated this as a catalyst, but there has been a long debate about how the arts are political? Should art be political? What are our topics? It’s always a tightrope walk that you walk. I consider social connection to be very important. In the exhibitions of old masters, too, it is always possible and important to look at them today. But I always have reservations about the concept of political art. For me, political art is art that takes an opinion, and then it can sometimes happen that art is no longer free.

This means that art can also be used. Do you think there is a trend at the moment?

tree size: I feel it is more of an exploration and testing. Of course there are also questions: Do we exclude? Who do we call? This is not difficult in the visual arts. Of course, there are institutions that plan to hold exhibitions with St. Petersburg and Moscow – there the dialogue ended at some point. But this is also a big problem, especially in the performing arts or in music. It’s a tough tightrope walk.

led the interview Eva Schram.

additional information

Exterior view of the new Bucerius Forum at the entrance to Alter Wall/Adolphsplatz.  © Bucerius Kunst Forum Photo: Ulrich Perrey

Each year, the Bucerius Kunst Forum shows four exhibitions of works of art on topics from antiquity to the present day.

This topic is in the program:

Culture NDR | The magazine | 04/22/2022 | 4 pm

NDR . logo

Leave a Comment