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Thursday 23.05.2019


Credit: Katrīna Neiburga

Katrīna Neiburga, Andris Eglītis and Jānis Noviks
Ruine der Franziskaner Klosterkirche, Berlin


Curators: Dr. Ute Müller-Tischler & Solvej Helweg Ovesen Opening: 24th May, 15:00 - 20:00 Exhibition duration: 25.05. – 31.10.2019 Opening Hours: Monday - Sunday, 10:00 - 18:00

Ioli Tzanetaki, Assistant curator

Ruine der Franziskaner Klosterkirche
Klosterstraße 73a
10179 Berlin

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In the 16th century, the Klosterruine was anything but dead. Following the closure of the Franciscan monastery due to the reformation, the royal court doctor, astrologist and alchemist Leonhard Thurneysser took over the monastery and established next to Berlin's first printing press, a botanical garden. There he cultivated medical and tropical plants and held 'exotic' animals.

The world-wide acknowledged artists Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis (Latvian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale 2015, Riga Biennial 2018) present their take on that unique site in the heart of Berlin: 'Our idea is to create a 'Playground-Laboratory' in which everyone can bear their mortality, leave their fears of death and the anxiety about immortality outside the Gray Monastery gate, and enjoy a variety of relaxing and life-assuring experiences: reach the state of fulfilment and mindfulness by enjoying the rain in custom-made beauty-sleep pods, experience acupuncture of pranamat carpet between silently whispering reeds. Through the flax maze, get into the rope's amusement park or enjoy the light game through the colourful stained-glass windows and contemplate the slow decay of sculptures made of turf; or to get a slow ride on a carousel, looking at the surrounding landscape as the scenery of passing time.' - K.N. and A.E.

The artist duo Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis, together with Jānis Noviks, have created an alchemist garden and sculptural playground for people of all ages to enjoy the summer. With PLAYGROUND they continue their interest in hybrid outdoor installations, where ruins, sculptures, bodies, stages and urban landscape merge. PLAYGROUND offers visitors an opportunity to playfully confront with their own presence and liveliness, but also mortality. As a reaction to the contemporary strive for 'immortality' and eternal youth through the beauty industry, fitness and sport-mania as well as futurology or even the religious - e.g. Christian promise of immortality - the artists with this installation suggest a new modern setting inviting new rituals for enacting one's own mortality.

Everything that makes a person feel alive - body, plants, sensuality, mobility, sociability, and music - are key elements in the installation, and simultaneously there are elements that appeal to the idea of the body as a still, frozen, dwelling, or transitory object. With minimal and analogue designs and a garden tableaux, the artists create several different stations, stages, and uses of what is left of the former Franciscan church. They activate the space and address the viewing body in a fragmented yet holistic way: from above, the side, the front, within, without, and below. What used to be the 'house of God,' tentatively sheltering the promise of immortality, today is a playground for accepting mortality.

'In the Middle Ages alchemists when not busy with gold cooking experiments, sought out recipes for an elixir of youth. Hence the influential Swiss-German alchemist Leonhard Thurneysser is a central figure for our art project – he settled in the Gray Monastery in the 16th century, built his own printing press, set up the laboratory, tended an exotic garden and kept a collection of exotic animals. He was one of the most prominent alchemists of his time. The Gray Monastery is a very special place – just the ruins or leftovers of the yesteryear, tightly enclosed between the construction sites, in the very center of Berlin. It's a strange shortcut into the well-preserved history that has survived incredibly over time and even the World War II bombings. It's a small romantic and 'shady' oasis.' - K.N. and A.E.

Text: Solvej Helweg Ovesen