The virtual exhibition and the Arts in Exile network
Arts in Exile is an exhibition in a virtual space which looks at the arts under the conditions of exile. The aim of the exhibition is to show the life of artists in exile in its complexity and provide it with a fixed place within the contemporary culture of remembrance in Germany.
The theme of exile occupies a special position in Germany, because exile has referred to very different experiences here at different times and in different circumstances. While thousands of artists were forced to flee into exile between 1933 and 1945 during the Nazi regime, after 1945 both the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic became receiving countries in which persecuted artists sought refuge – in some cases even emigrating from one Germany to the other. The Federal Republic of Germany remains a country of refuge for persecuted artists today.
Arts in Exile is dedicated to arts and artists in exile, bearing in mind these multifaceted background factors. The exhibition is not conceptually structured on the basis of a division into different epochs, but rather seeks to examine and present the common features and the differences in exile as a phenomenon. It is the unexpected connecting lines between historically specific exile situations in particular that make the subject of exile such an interesting field of study. As part of this approach, the exhibition also looks at contemporary positions in exile research and examines anew the question of what exile is and, following that, what ‘exile art’ might be.
At the request of the then Federal Government Officer for Culture and the Media, Bernd Neumann, the German Exile Archive 1933-1945 of the German National Library assumed responsibility in the year 2012 for managing and coordinating the virtual exhibition. The first stage of the project is being funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media with 745.000 Euros. The concept for the contents and technical aspects of the virtual exhibition was developed in collaboration with the agencies Iglhaut + von Grote and ]Init[ AG. The German Literature Archive in Marbach has also been involved in developing the concept for the exhibition content from the beginning, and designed the educational features of the virtual exhibition.
The exhibition sees itself explicitly as a network project. Contents and the working results of research institutes, archives, exhibition organisers and initiatives from Germany and abroad flow into the virtual exhibition. The partner institutions involved in the Arts in Exile network meet at regular intervals to discuss the most recent research positions and to exchange information and ideas about the conceptual alignment of the virtual exhibition.
The project Arts in Exile also has the support of an advisory board to which Dr. Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel, Prof. Doerte Bischoff, Prof. Dan Diner, Prof. Burcu Dogramaci, Abbas Khider, Dr. Ursula Langkau-Alex, Prof. Michaela Melián and Volker Weidermann belong.
In addition, the network partners provide objects from their own archive inventories as well as content-related articles and ideas. The exhibition will be expanded by the ongoing provision of objects and articles over the coming years so that the Arts in Exile project remains a lively and constantly growing exhibition.
Why a virtual exhibition?
The exhibition concept exploits the technical opportunities provided by the Internet and links curated gallery objects with one another, which originate from very different sources and are allocated to different areas of art, as well as different material and media types.
This affords the visitors to the exhibition a special significance: they are not guided along a pre-defined pathway through the exhibition, rather each and every user creates his or her own click path through the exhibits meaning that the user thus generates a very personal reception of Arts in Exile which evolves in a highly individual manner from one click to another.