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Berlin, a city that creates artists

Practical function and symbolic function of
a territory in contemporary art creation


The city of Berlin would represent the paradox, difficult to explain from a liberal perspective, of being an important city of art while it is placed on the fringes of the art market. This research on the visual arts in Berlin since the reunification questions this paradox starting from the artistic dynamics, taken in their context, to determine how they confirm, contradict or give new directions to debates and theories on the global social evolution of the Western world since the collapse of the communist system.

The project also seeks to establish in what extent the artistic work has been conditioned by the global movements of reunified German society and, conversely, what specificities have determined the evolution of the art world. It tries as well to check whether and how the art development differs from other economic and intellectual activities.

Indeed, art in Berlin after the reunification had to assimilate two conflicting plastic traditions: on the one hand a tradition governed (but not monopolized) by the market and the oppositions that the market generates and, on the other hand, a tradition that considers art as a collective ideological tool under the global (but not total) control of the state and, in turn, the oppositions against this orientation. This research attempts to define the artistic forms that this confrontation generated and to understand how and why these artistic forms imposed themselves to the detriment of other possible plastic responses. In this way, this work helps to better grasp the divergences and convergences between these evolutions and the pre-existing traditions, as well as to establish which tendencies have disappeared and which have continued to survive in an underlying way.

The richness of the project requires a transdisciplinary and comparative methodology, as well as a thorough knowledge of the realities of contemporary art and its "organization". The first part of this survey analysed the topographical aspects and the evolutions that art and artists have provoked in reunified Berlin. The second and last part of this research should focus on the artistic events that have taken place in Berlin since the reunification. It will also analyse the works presented in these events, their evolutions, as well as the conditions of presentation, the participants and the organizers of these different activities during the last 30 years, by taking some reference dates inside this period.