In the year after the fall of the Berlin Wall during the night of November 9, 1989, Barbara Weiss deployed an image of people celebrating on top of the now defunct barrier for an ad in the Frankfurt-based journal Wolkenkratzer. In subsequent years, artists whose countries of origin were dispersed across the former Iron Curtain, from Finland and the Baltic to Berlin and further via Romania, the Ukraine and Turkey, became an integral part of the gallery’s program.
Today, 25 years later, the reappearance of the images of the wall’s collapse serves as an occasion for a reappraisal of the events, both in their political context, and in terms of the personal stance taken, then and now. For some of the participating artists, those who lived in the United States for example, the effects of these changes were distant and heavily mediated. Departing from the intuitive use of the wall’s iconic image, 1989 questions the subjective meaning of these eventful times, during which the fall of the Berlin Wall was only a single piece within a larger process of fundamental transition. The results of this change is now obvious, but could it have ever been different?
The omission of an – at least potentially – balancing, socialist ideology brought about a new urge for utopian alternatives amongst a younger generation, while for those who witnessed the changes from a more distanced perspective the rifts and faults of the now all-encompassing new world-order became all the more present. 1989 gathers together a variety of voices, memories and observations of the time, alongside comments and reflections that look back on this era and its end.