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Opening: 1 - 3. September 2023

From Bronze Age slaughter with axe and club to AI-controlled weapon systems of the 21st century, the same thing always remains in the end: broken bones, perforated skulls and lots of military scrap.


While modern battlefield archaeology provides us with authoritative insights into the history of humankind, exhumations help to solve crimes in real time. War has returned to Europe and its ugly grimace has half the world burying its supposed pacifism and setting a historical arms record. The timeless debate about disarmament and rearmament and the difficult balancing act between arms supplier, active war party and German post-war identity has also returned. There, where the first European multi-ethnic battle was fought around 1250 BC and where the imposing Klempenow Castle was built 1,000 years later, the insurmountable humanity issue of militarisation will be negotiated over four weeks with the means of art and science.

YESTERTODAY is the first cultural event to date to address and focus the issue of militarisation. In cooperation with regional, national and international partners, a festival is being created that will occupy the extensive grounds of the medieval Klempenow Castle with a programme at the interface of art, science and political education. In Western Pomerania, where the approval ratings for Germany's Ukraine policy are falling drastically, the festival offers new approaches to the current controversial debate and traces the topic back to the Bronze Age using concrete examples.

The festival is both an exhibition course with objects and installations and a live programme with performances, music, films, lectures, discussions and workshops; including numerous new productions and premieres. The contributions from Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Russia make visible the lines of connection between capitalism, imperialism and militarism. Using visual arts, photography, theatre, music and film, they approach the shifting boundaries that result from the increasingly massive use of military technology for humanity. In an exhibition spread over the entire grounds of the castle, not only images of the Russian war of aggression and its preliminary stages in the Donbas and Crimea since 2014 and thus the significant Ukrainian narrative of the already eight-year war play a role, but also the withdrawal of the Red Army from 1991 to 1994 after decades of stationing in East Germany, which is relevant for the East German perspective. Other works focus on the excessive air wars on Germany, the little-known material battles between the USA and Japan in Alaska in the Second World War and the perspective of minor participants in the war in the midst of the First World War.


An archaeological exhibition will dig even deeper into history and be dedicated to the Battle of the Tollense, which is said to have taken place around 1250 BC on the site of today's Klempenow Castle and represents the first European multi-ethnic battle. Through these and other topics in the project, the considerable challenges of our time, especially for Ukraine, are not to be undermined or levelled, but conversely, through the concreteness of the individual example, discernment is to be practised and a new dialogue made possible that can withstand different positions at the same time.

The global impact of war increases its complexity and often makes individual options for action appear ineffective in the public perception. Many people are very concerned about the complexity and the lack of formulated political action goals far from arms exports. It seems all the more important to make the complexity more negotiable through the concreteness of individual examples and voices. For this purpose, an extensive mediation programme with international voices from science, journalism, politics and art will be created. The festival will also provide a forum for the more than 300,000 children and young people who have fled from Ukraine to Germany. In cooperation with Malteser Werke, the Bert Neumann Association is organising a workshop lasting several days in advance, in which 15 young refugees from Ukraine will be given the opportunity to learn stage design techniques and to express their individual refugee experiences in spatial art. The results will also be on show as part of YESTERTODAY.

YESTERTODAY is an initiative of the non-profit Bert Neumann Association. It communicates the work of the artist Bert Neumann (1960-2015) and other artistic positions as well as socio-political issues in exhibitions, workshops and publications. Inspired by Neumann's approaches, it promotes playful approaches to art and exchange with people who move outside art scenes. It contributes to a critical-constructive civil society by presenting art as a useful means of shaping community and democracy. With his projects in Germany, Brazil and Japan, Bert Neumann promoted art that left the cities with their temples and art palaces for the streets and suburbs and was created in cooperation with the local people. The BNA is committed to this practice and wants to produce outside artistic circles and convey an art that is concrete and has to do with the reality of our lives.


List of artists and participants to be published on 2 June…

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