Berlin: Full Circle

By Molly Schiff

Did you know that a renaissance man is the master of any craft they try? But how about a renaissance place? Say a city that has damn near done it all? An area that has gone from glitz and decadence in the early 1920s, to the bits of debris left behind from World War II, and all the way back to the modern decadence in the techno club scene that you now see in Berlin. The city was knocked down and has come back stronger. Starting on May 11, 2022, the Centre Pompidou will be putting on three different events that show the continuous re-growth and change of Berlin. It will also showcase how truly full on the city is. “That is Berlin!” is the first event. It is multidisciplinary and relates to all things current Berlin. “Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander” is the second exhibition focused on the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) era, overlapping with the Weimar republic. The pre-war Berlin. And the third showing in this event is “Jochen Lempert”: photographs from three decades of work done by Jochen Limpert. Read more about it in Berlin: Full Circle. 

Something that often slips through the cracks is that Berlin in Germany was the life of the party in the early days of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933). Think of the renowned movie ‘Cabaret’ starring Lisa Minnelli if you have seen it. A place where everyone went full out, full on, all the time. The jazz club scene welcomed any and all with a warm embrace. And a hell of a good time. Living the sort of lavish and carefree, glamorous lifestyle was the antichrist to Nazi ideals, and thus was completely demolished in the war. But, looking ahead to nearly eighty years after the second world war, Berlin is back. Just as decadent as it was before, but in an entirely modern way. The above three exhibits will showcase this in a way that transports you to the before and after of Berlin.

“That is Berlin!” is centric to the present day culture of Berlin. How it is represented through art and literature. Intellectuals tackle issues arising with urbanisation and even the newly forming electro and queer communities. Artists from all areas of expertise will be featured, from directors and performers to intellectuals, and even writers. 

The bustling convention of great minds will come together from June 10 through July 3rd at the Centre Pompidou in Paris for the 75th Berlinale. Such a fitting location, considering this centre houses a massive public information library, the Musée National d’Art Moderne (the largest modern art museum in Europe), and the IRCAM centre for music and research. This event focuses primarily on films, including previews, new releases, and films that have done quite well in the 2021 season. A most fitting location accompanied by immersive cultural events that really accentuate all that is Berlin.

The second component to this event happens to be the very first of its kind.”Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander”, paints a picture of the Neue Sachlichkeit era art and culture. A time in Berlin marked by pzazz and poverty alike. This historic movement has never been shown to this scale, with as much as 900 works and documents to pull you into 20th century Berlin. The exhibition seeks to explore both the fixation on the rationalism movement of the modern era (bringing into accord with reason) and criticising the ideal that everything serves one specific purpose.

Standardisation. Montage. Things. Cold Persona. Rationality. Utility. Transgression. Looking Downwards. A beautiful heterogeneous mixture of paintings, photographs, architecture, design, movies, theatre, music, and literature. This, when juxtaposed to August Sander’s seven sociocultural portraits, showcases the duality that existed within the Weimar Republic. All that was decadent meets all that was most painfully real.

Sander’s section specifically shows how warped Berlin society was back Sander’s section specifically shows how warped Berlin society was back then. His seven works, titled “The Farmer”, “The Skilled Tradesman”, “The Woman”, “Classes and Professions”, “The Artists”, “The City” and “The Last People”, each end with a set of documents that give even more context to the images. Analysing them at their very point in time. Allowing us all to catch a glimpse into the dramatic irony that was the Weimar Republic era. Glitz, glamour, and struggle all in one. The complete exhibition will be at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark.

Retrospectives are common to artists that have long histories. A way to celebrate their work over an extended period of time. Starting on May 11, anyone has the chance to view the third and final event at the Berlinale: The “Jochen Lempert” exhibition. Lempert was born in 1958 in Moers, Germany. Interestingly enough, he had a well-established career as a biologist and dragonfly specialist before turning to photography once he turned 31. This background really shines through in his art, which is mostly up close photos of nature where flora and fauna concur.

Sixty years of Lempert’s work will be on display here, capturing the essence of Germany in his lyrical and reflective nature. Chronological order is tossed to the side in this array of images. From Jean Painlevé’s surrealism to the modernism of today’s day in age. A true homage to the development of Berlin and to Lempert himself. Lempert takes your hand and walks you through his observations on the natural beauty and intricacy that nature has to offer. 

Lemperts specific exhibit is broken down into three sections. The first is titled Physiognomies/Morphologies, and it gives care and attention to the bodies of plants, animals, and humans. Bioluminescence is section two, showcasing those organisms that can take in and give light to the world. The final section is Perception, which shows you what you might not see with your eyes alone. Lempert observed it and captured it with his 50mm lens to give the human viewing experience on such phenomena where our naked eye may have missed it. This exhibit will be making its home in the Centre Pompidou, put on at the same time as “Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander”. 

Everyone loves a good comeback story, and Berlin certainly has that. The program put on by the Centre Pompidou featuring each of the three events tells the story of Berlin’s growth into its old self; a full on city. A convention of great minds from all disciplines and two photography exhibitions show how substantial, but beautiful change has occurred in Berlin from the days before the world wars to now. A true full circle. 

“That is Berlin !”; Thought and debate – Performances – Concerts – Cinema will run from 11 May – July of 2022. For all currently available information on the event click here

For more information on “Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander”; 11 May — 5 September 2022; click here

For more information on “Jochen Lempert”; 11 May – 5 September 2022; click here

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