Transformations: Wende Museum

Ken Gonzales-Day, Monumental Vision: Labor/Lenin, 2020, Pigment print on vinyl. All items referenced in this work are from the collection of the Wende Museum

The series of (mostly) peaceful revolutions that took down the Berlin Wall effectively ended state socialism in Eastern Europe, and brought not just a political but also a material transformation. Countless people who lived through socialism discarded the household and consumer items they had lived with and loved or hated for many years, as they finally had access to higher-standard goods. Huge chunks of socialist material culture ended up in dumping grounds or flea markets. The Wende Museum was founded with the mission of safeguarding these materials from oblivion. But with historical distance and more critical feelings toward the realities of post-socialist society, historical memory took a new turn and people started to develop feelings of nostalgia. As a consequence, flea market items rose in price and prestige while the Wende Museum continued to collect them. This exhibition presents the metamorphosis of household and consumer goods from objects of everyday life to items in a museum collection, by way of flea markets, and invites contemporary artists to position them in the here and now.

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