The exhibition “Common History and Its Private Stories. Geschichte und Geschichten” is an attempt to honour the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall not so much as the main event of recent European history but as an event with massive implications; an event, which triggered a succession of political events with global impacts that are defining our lives in the last 20 years.
The exhibition was conceived on the basis of the collection of MUSA Museum Start Gallery Artothek in Vienna. It pays special attention to the typical for this institution ability to keep close track of the artistic production in Vienna. The defining principles of the museum collection form the basis of the exhibition – it is a composition of personal reactions on the changes; of individual political and social engagement with the process; of witness accounts, reflections, and self-analysis of
artists from various generations and background.
Due to the strong increase in dialogue and cooperation in the world of politics, business, art and culture, it has become necessary to readjust and fine-tune our attitude towards everything that is different. National and international aspects have been increasingly intermingled, public entities have been privatised – all these aspects have shaped the recent common history in Europe and beyond.
Common history tends to generalise matters, create myths and stereotypes. It needs a greater distance to finally calm down and be analysed. However, none of us who have witnessed and/or participated in the process have such a distance.
“We lack objectivity … but we still remember … we remember the rush of freedom, the fraternisation with former enemies, the experience of terrorist acts and violence. We are the ones who have both won and lost by the transformation from a society that was permanently confronted with shortcomings to a consumer society. Ours are the pains of the slow realisation – the realisation that freedom is not a habitual drug but a social contract with shared responsibilities. We are the ones who have travelled the way from a bipolar model of the world to a political world order to ... well, to what?”
The exhibition deals with the common history all generations have experienced in the past 20 years. Each of these generations have their own traumas and have made their own experiences, observations and conclusions based on the constant daily comparison of “before” and “after” as well as “here” and “here”. The most obvious comparisons can be made between the Europe that was separated by the Iron Curtain and the European Union and its enlarged “family” of candidate
countries that are united by common political and economic interests.
The artists who present their works in the exhibition come from different countries and different cultural backgrounds, but they are all witnesses of the change, the transition, and the unification.
Roland Fink, curator of “Common History and Its Private Stories. Geschichte und Geschichten”: “Due to their experiences with the transition process the artists broach the issue how society deals with romanticised non-remembering and the reflexion on the phenomenon. Childhood memories, (outlived) traditions, desires, maintained legends and myths, and a search for orientation become instruments in the exhibition as well as objects of artistic analysis.”
The exhibition unites different approaches and ways of dealing with these transformation processes. “Common History and Its Private Stories. Geschichte und Geschichten” presents works of 30 artists.
A catalogue about the exhibition is available in Bulgarian, English and German.