Berlin, 13 October 2009 Press release

Week commemorating the political turnaround

Cycle of events in commemoration of 1989 in preparation for

Berlin, 13 October 2009 – In the autumn of 2009 Europe is commemorating the opening of the borders, the elimination of the Iron Curtain, the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War and the political turnaround in the former Eastern Bloc. Within the framework of the Austrian Foreign Ministry’s initiative ‘Divided-United. Europe 1989-2009’, the Austrian Cultural Forum at the Austrian Embassy in Berlin presents a number of high-calibre commemorative events in preparation for the twentieth anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

On Tuesday, 20 October, the exhibition“ART Protects You”by Austrian artist Jochen Traar marks the kick-off in the Cultural Forum’s gallery. On the same evening there will be a concert premiering the musical commission “Leviathan”by Sebastian Themessl (a listening and reading piece for spoken voice, clarinet, violin, violoncello, piano and programme, twenty years after 1989).

Essen-born Austrian artist Jochen Traar has been studying the conditions and possibilities of art in the medium of its presentation. The exhibition projects he has realised at international level have the character of experimental situations. At the Cultural Forum in Berlin, Jochen Traar, together with cultural scientist Jakob Rácek, who was born in Austria and lives in Berlin, is developing a route displaying souvenirs, small monuments and fragments whose subject is the dialectical relationship between memory and loss.

With “Leviathan”,distinguished Austrian composer Sebastian Themessl responded to an invitation by the Austrian Cultural Forum in Berlin to deal with the theme of freedom in the conflict zone between political interference and individual creative will from a poetic and musical perspective. Themessl’s compositions also comprise texts by Hermann Broch, Egon Friedell and Thomas Bernhard, among others. The performers are Gero Mertens (speaker), Ralph Manno (clarinet), Lisa Werhan (violin), Peter Polzer (cello) and Gottlieb Wallisch (piano).

On Wednesday, 28 October, Chris Pichler (Actress of the Year 2008 – ORF/Ö1 radio channel) will read from “The Wall”,a novel by Marlen Haushofer. The book was written during the building of the Wall and published shortly afterwards (1963).

On Tuesday, 3 November, a panel of high-ranking participants will discuss perceptions and effects of the Fall of the Wall, the opening of the borders and the political turnaround in Italy and Austria. This event will be co-hosted by the Italian Cultural Institute and the Free University of Berlin.

The participants in the panel discussion include:

Dr. Maddalena Guiotto (Italian-German Historical Institute in Trento), Ambassador Dr. Emil Brix (Head of the Cultural Policy Section at Austria’s Foreign Ministry), Professor Dr. Angelo Bolaffi (Head of the Italian Cultural Institute in Berlin), Prof. Dr. Wilfried Rott (columnist at “FAZ” and “Die Welt”newspapers). Prof. Dr. Oliver Janz (Free University of Berlin) will take the chair.

On Friday, 6 November, the cycle of events will be rounded off by a book presentation. Well-known Austrian publisher Paul Schulmeister will be talking to the distinguished expert on the German Democratic Republic, historian and Director of the Berlin Hohenschönhausen Memorial, Hubertus Knabe, presenting his book “Times of Turnaround”. Schulmeister worked as a journalist for “Die Welt” newspaper, among others, before joining the ORF Austrian Broadcasting Corporation in 1972. There, among other posts, he worked as head of the foreign desk, as a TV commentator and presenter and as foreign correspondent in Germany, where he was based in Bonn and Berlin for 15 years.


Austrian Cultural Forum Berlin
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