• We 13.09, 18:00h
  • Th 14.09
  • Fr 15.09
  • Sa 16.09
  • Su 17.09

© Alfredo Jaar

Exhibition, Opening
Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.)

14 SEP 2017—AUG 2018
Opening 13 SEP, 6pm

Alfredo Jaar. Rosa, Karl, Bertolt, Herbert and the others

Every year Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) invites contemporary artists to realize an external project on the façade of its building on Chausseestrasse, and thus change the view on the urban space. Working in public space is deeply rooted in the practice of Alfredo Jaar, who since the beginning of his career creates political works that attract attention. His series of graphical diagrams conceived for the n.b.k., entitled Rosa, Karl, Bertolt, Herbert and the others (2017), is an homage to Harun Farocki, his intellectual role models, and the critical view on social conditions common to all of them, while at the same time it addresses the varied history of Chausseestrasse. As one of the oldest streets in Berlin, it has been a major center of production and business since the 19th century, being the home to a variety of industries throughout history—from engineering to advertising. From 1961 to 1990, the street was divided by the Berlin Wall and marked by a tightly controlled and continually refined checkpoint at its north-western end. Eight years before the building of the Wall, the Chausseestrasse border crossing was one of the hot spots of the uprising of 17 June 1953, when about 10,000 striking steel workers were on the march there.

Alfredo Jaar picks up outstanding historical moments such as this and refers to them in his work Rosa, Karl, Bertolt, Herbert and the others (2017), which at the same time names four of the many intellectuals whose thinking deeply influenced Harun Farocki’s work (Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, Bertolt Brecht, Herbert Marcuse). Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht’s radically pacifist and socialist program, in 1916, led to the founding of the Spartacus League at Chausseestrasse 121, the premises of Liebknecht’s law firm until his and Rosa Luxemburg’s assassination in 1919. Only a few meters away, directly adjacent to Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, lies the Brecht-Haus, where, from 1953 on, the married couple Bertolt Brecht and Helene Weigel lived and worked. Today, it serves as a memorial site for the work of both personalities and their exploration of questions of power politics. At the same time it is the oldest surviving building on Chausseestrasse.

Fascinated by how many of Harun Farocki’s topics—working worlds and their transformation, domination techniques, the power of the visual and possibilities of opposition—coalesce in the history of Chausseestrasse, Alfredo Jaar has designed a kind of pictorial puzzle that invites viewers to decipher and reflect it.

Alfredo Jaar (b. 1956 in Santiago de Chile) lives and works in New York. His works have been shown in numerous exhibitions and major projects worldwide, incl. Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2016); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2015); Times Square, New York (2014); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2014); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013). In 2012, three Berlin institutions (Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlinische Galerie, and Alte Nationalgalerie) presented a retrospective of Jaar’s oeuvre. His works have been repeatedly shown at the biennials in Venice (2013; 2009; 2007; 1986) and São Paulo (2010; 1989; 1987). Furthermore, Jaar is a two-time participant of documenta (1987; 2002).