Unwanted Heritage/Moderne Heimat Leipzig - 1Unwanted Heritage/Moderne Heimat Leipzig - 2

Unwanted Heritage/Moderne Heimat Leipzig

[ Views of architectural modernism in Gdańsk, Sopot and Leipzig, Exhibition project ]
Unwanted Heritage
Gdańsk’s architectural history of the twentieth century has so far been insufficiently researched. The few documents that survived the Second World War are unsorted and, for political as well as historical reasons, have been poorly examined. Yet noted German and Polish architects such as Fritz Höger, Paul Möbes, and Lech Kadłubowski have certainly left their marks on Gdańsk and the nearby seaside resort of Sopot. The curators locate one reason for neglecting the heritage of modern architecture in the official image of Gdańsk as an old Hanseatic city, an image that is embodied in the rebuilt historical city centre. “Unwanted Heritage” will explore the history of modernist architecture in Gdańsk from its very beginnings, document it in words, pictures and film, and analyse the present condition of the buildings. Many residents of Gdańsk find it difficult to conceive of modern architecture as being part of the local tradition. Their subjective attitudes towards this chapter of Gdańsk’s building history will be captured on audio and video recordings. A symposium will complement the exhibition.

Moderne Heimat Leipzig
Since such a reflection on modernism is not a local, but an international phenomenon, Büro Kopernikus encouraged cooperation between “Unwanted Heritage” and the project “Heimal_Moderne” in Leipzig.
“Heimat_Moderne” is a cross-disciplinary cultural project that also addresses questions of urban development. Why do people feel at home in the city they live in? Why do they relate to one architectural period more than to another? Leipzig’s “classical” modernism of the interwar years is generally acknowledged to be of significant architectural merit. However, the examples of socialist post-war modernism are only gradually being reappraised.

The Augustusplatz in Leipzig
The exhibition portrays Leipzig’s modern urban development from the beginning of the 19th century. This development is marked by diverse impulses and several discontinuities, and – with the destructions of the Second World War – by a striking break. Reconstruction and the reality of life in the GDR reflect the cultural identities of Leipzig as well as the state-socialist version of a social idea of modernity.

At Augustusplatz, which was called Karl-Marx-Platz between August 1945 and October 1990, these processes are concentrated as in a burning glass. Hence the constructional development of the square is examined in the context of the transformation of Leipzig’s downtown area from a capitalist city to a socialist city centre. The square with its cultural institutions is also where the city’s society keeps acting out disputes between tradition and innovation: “Heimat und Moderne”. Discussions with contemporary witnesses, musicians, visual artists, and scholars complement an up-to-date visual exploration of Augustusplatz.

The show also presents a small selection of the exhibition “Unwanted Heritage”, which is simultaneously on view at Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art in Gdańsk. The “unloved heritage” of modernity is almost completely suppressed from the official face and image of Gdańsk – which gives rise to questions similar to those in Leipzig. By incorporating elements from the exhibition in Gdańsk, the Leipzig exhibition thus asks in an international context: Can these modern buildings contribute to a complex, diverse, and pluralistic face of a city?

The exhibition in Gdańsk will also show a small section of the Leipzig project.

The project is co-financed by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute from funds provided by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in connection with the German-Polish Year 2005/2006.
Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdańsk
Oper Leipzig
Gdańsk:15 April - 29 May 2005
Leipzig: 6 May - 9 July 2005
Participating Institutions
Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdańsk
Experimentale e.V., Leipzig

Dream Cities and Ghost Towns
projects on the topic:
The Futurism of Industrial Cities – 100 Years of Wolfsburg/Nowa Huta
[ Exhibition project ]
The Mousetrap
[ An international conference on dealing with institutions in contemporary curatorial practice ]
Ewa Partum: The Legality of Space
[ Works 1965–2005 ]

Jacek Friedrich, Wojciech Szymański, Agnieszka Wołodźko (Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdańsk) Martha Doehler-Behzadi, Lena Prents (Experimentale e.V., Leipzig)