Theme year 2009


Logo theme year 2009The year 2009 was framed in the historical context of the 1989 Peaceful Revolution, which led to the reunification of the two German States. For this reason, the Kulturlandjahr selected this topic and made “Democracy and Democratization Movements” the focal point of projects and events.

Twenty years after the events of 1989/90, we now see democracy as a naturally given basis of social life. However, the way to achieving democratic structures successfully has often been a difficult path. Today, it is often difficult for us to shape the democracy that we have struggled to achieve. Only democracy allows for the all-encompassing diversity of social life—accordingly, it presents a constant challenge

This means that democracy is an interactive process: it does not come into being from people shaking their head and looking away but rather from their active participation and selfless dedication. Tolerance for those who are different and for being different always serves as a basic principle of this interaction. The famous quote of the author and philosopher Voltaire is the golden rule in the shared democratic process: “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.”

The Program’s Focal Points

Approximately forty projects from the year 2009 dealt with the topic in several different ways. Many partners focused on the democratic movement in the ormer GDR and the anniversary of the radical social change in 1989/90.

In this vein, guests at the Marienkirche (“St. Mary’s Church”) in Frankfurt (Oder) could walk through the “labyrinth of theWende”; a wooden construction with improvised materials. It reminded visitors of a historical period of massive change with an open ending. No one knew what would happen the next day—just as the visitor to the exhibit never knew what was waiting around the next corner or at the end of the labyrinth.

At Babelsberg Palace, the Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten (“Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg”) was represented at an exhibit of artistic photographs by Peter Rohn. He took them in the palace gardens of Babelsberg, Glienicke, and the Neuer Garten in November 1989.

Many projects were a commentary on not only what had been achieved in twenty years but also the goals that still have to be met. The Musikakademie Rheinsberg presented three chamber suites from France, Germany, and Poland with the theme Wir sind das Volk (“We Are the People”).

And Trollwerk e.V.—together with artists—organized an exhibit on the transformation of the Potsdam Schiffbauergasse(“Shipbuilder’s Lane”) from an industrial wasteland to a cultural site with a significant social function. Various art forms such as painting, performance, installation, photography, film, and experimental video art exemplified the social and cultural upheavals for the people in this region.

In the working group Städte mit historischem Stadtkernen (“Cities with Historical Centers”), seven municipalities collaborated on the joint project WendePunkte (Turning Points; [Wende, “turn,” referring to the Fall of the Wall and the developments that followed]). The project shed light on the function of the cities’ architectural cultural heritage for the development of cultural and social identities from 1989 onwards.

Kulturland Brandenburg did not limit its focus to the GDR-era and the time immediately following the Wende. Numerous projects examined democratic developments in times long past. In an exhibit on Karl August von Hardenberg, theThemenjahr unearthed the roots of democracy at the end of the eighteenth century and at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Einstein’s ideal of democracy and the drakest chapter of Germany’s and Brandenburg’s history—shaped by the National Socialist regime’s repression of all aspirations for freedom and democratic, constitutional principles—received equal focus.