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03 Nov 2009

Iconoclash! - Political Imagery from the Berlin Wall to German Unification

© Wende Museum, Culver City, CA

Iconoclash! - Political Imagery from the Berlin Wall to German Unification


November 4, 2009 - January 8, 2010

M-Th 9-5; F 9-3
Closed December 19 - January 3

001 202 289 1200
001 202 289 3535

812 Seventh St. NW
Washington, DC 20001

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In Fall 1989, the Wall dividing East and West Germany fell, bringing about transformations that permanently altered the trajectory of politics and society. Using examples from material culture, the exhibition Iconoclash! – Political Imagery from the Berlin Wall to German Unification, premiering at the Goethe-Institut Washington November 4, 2009 – January 8, 2010, captures the sentiments during the decades of change from the 1980s to the present.

Political iconography is established with meaning and purpose. Tampering with an icon reflects that the original value system has been altered, compromised, or simply fallen away, creating new meanings in the process. This array of objects reflects the abrupt transformations during the last twenty years. They also represent the legacy of the people who produced, consumed and used the material culture of the Eastern Bloc as a canvas for political expression, commemoration, humor, or even entrepreneurial opportunity.

The objects range from flags, portraits of political leaders, political posters, and t-shirts to chunks of the Berlin Wall. Some of the exhibited items have seen a spectacular trajectory—from a venerated icon, to an object of mockery, to a popular commodity. Some have remained as they were twenty years ago; others have become desired collectors' items.

This exhibition of political and cultural artifacts and their changed meaning commemorates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall. Objects on loan from the Wende Museum, a musuem and archive of the Cold War in Culver City, California. Support for Iconoclash! is provided by Friends of the Goethe-Institut. An exhibition catalog, made possible by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, accompanies the exhibition.

Opening discussion and reception:

Wednesday, November 4, 6:30 - 9 pm

6:30 pm: Discussion with Panelists
Markus Meckel, Minister of Foreign Affairs, GDR (1990); Member of the German Bundestag (1990-2009)
Richard Barkley, United States Ambassador to the German Democratic Republic (1988-1990)
Moderated by Pia Bungarten, Friedrich Ebert Foundation DC

8 pm: Tour and reception
With explanatory remarks by Marion Deshmukh, co-curator, George Mason University.
RSVP to 202-289-1200 ext. 169 or
Organized in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation

Gallery hours: Monday to Thursday 9 to 5; Friday 9 to 3.

The Goethe-Institut's FotoGalerie displays a revolving selection of art, with a particular focus on contemporary German photography. Upcoming group and solo photography exhibitions at the FotoGalerie in 2010 include the January 'Roads and Paths' show by photographer Bernhard Fuchs; the annual German graduate photography competition winners, 'gute aussichten: young german photographers'; and a Fall exhibition of award-winning documentary photography assembled by the Wüstenrot Foundation, a German-based organization that supports science and research, education, art and culture, and historic preservation.

About the Goethe-Institut:

Mutual understanding among nations by promoting international cultural dialogue: this is the ambitious mission of the Goethe-Institut. On behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany, cultural institutes around the world provide cultural programs, language courses, support to educators, and up-to-date information on Germany in the context of Europe.

Founded in 1990, Goethe-Institut Washington, DC is a center for German culture and language, and for the coordination of media projects for all of North America. From its location in the newly revitalized Downtown, the Goethe-Institut Washington reaches out to both individuals and organizations in the community, bridging the past, present, and future with a variety of high-quality events.

812 Seventh St. NW
Washington, DC 20001
Metro: Gallery Place/Chinatown