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Concept by Thomas Oberender

Dramaturgy: Jeroen Versteele


Video installations: Thilo Fischer

w/ David von der Stein

Film selection: Thilo Fischer

Sound Design: Max Heesen

Exhibition at Gropius Bau Berlin

28 Mai - 17 October 2021

Berliner Festspiele

with Gropius Bau Berlin

in cooperation with rbb, 3sat, Deutschlandfunk Kultur,


Approximately 1,000 hours of film footage from public and private archives have been viewed for this exhibition. From this, the sound and pictures have been restored on over 5 hours of film and edited into three video installations that present news, discourse and art spanning 70 years. The 3-channel video installation dedicated to artistic positions from all areas of the festival (260 minutes) moved chronologically through Berliner Festspiele’s history and were presented twice daily.

Previously little-known video footage from our own, public and private collections were boldly edited together in ‘Everything Is Just for a While’ to mark the Berliner Festspiele’s 70th birthday and offered a new perspective on artistic positions from around the world that continue to amaze us today.

A laboratory and an experiment, a seismograph of the zeitgeist, an exhibition space and a debating society, radical art and workshops for young people, fireworks and sporting events, weeks of African art, urban planning and new writing, an Institute of Advanced Studies and a celebratory water-borne procession and a recurrent platform for the international art scene – over the last 70 years the Berliner Festspiele have been all of these things. In their birthday year, ‘Everything Is Just for a While’ presented a compilation of previously little-known film footage, a hall of mirrors of memories. These video installations were framed by infographics that gave the history and identity of the Berliner Festspiele’s visual form.

The video installations were testimony to the fissures and ricochets, the extremes and the experiments in the Festspiele’s history, and prompted us to explore the question of what these past orchestral and jazz concerts, pioneering electronic works, theatre productions, city-wide actions, exhibitions, discussion series, circus performances, rituals, dance productions, youth contests, cinema projects, films for planetariums, artist talks and opening speeches have to say to us today. In our research we looked for daring, for out-of-the-box thinking, for the ambition and patience to see what was coming and what it would become. And certainly, the way we have chosen to look at and think about our history reveals something about how we want to shape the future.

In this way the contours emerged of a biography that can never fully be told of an institution that has been and continues to be shaped by countless members of staff and their particular abilities. The stream of events in this narrative allows us to discern some recurring threads – an interest in artists and developments in Eastern Europe, Africa, America and South East Asia, along with the history of the artistic avant-garde and political turning points mark the Festspiele’s work both past and present. In retrospect, thirty years after the opening of the Berlin Wall, their political opposition to the situation in the GDR is evident. Their original role as “show-window for the West” as well as their steadily growing curiosity regarding the different perspectives of many non-Western and indigenous cultures and strategies for sustainable change and environmental protection are reflected in the festivals and programmes.

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