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>> "From a German Perspective": Interview with the curators
>> The Press on "From a German Perspective" and John Baldessari

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Ariane Grigoteit in front of
Neo Rauch: "Das geht alles von ihrer Zeit ab", 2001 and
the ink drawing 'Untitled', 1995 by Cornelia Schleime

Your collaboration with Russian institutions is a long-established fact. What would you say has changed in the nature of the cooperation and the cultural climate with Russia since the cultural exchange first began?

BF: There’s a much larger base there now than ever before. Cultural work experiences a different kind of feedback and reception. This becomes clear in the extensive press coverage prior to the exhibition, which reveals a high degree of curiosity and interest. There’s also a much wider spectrum of galleries in Russia today, such as Stella Kay or Aidan Solokhova, and a young, open-minded public that seeks out critical investigation. Something fundamental has changed there. The situation was still very different in 1997. With art, as Dr. Grigoteit always puts it so nicely, an alternative currency was introduced at the bank. I think there’s a great need for other, alternative values, especially in Russia, where an enormous social and economic upheaval is currently taking place. This also explains the interest in the exhibition well ahead of time, in which two factors played an important role. On the one hand, the fact that a significant part of a German corporate collection – a form of corporate cultural commitment that doesn’t exist in Russia – is being shown, and on the other the fact that it’s being presented in a highly respected museum. Only two years ago, hardly anyone could have imagined a cooperation of this kind.

Guests at the Vernissage

At the same time as the exhibition opening, the symposium DEMOCRACY, INTERNATIONAL GOVERNANCE AND THE WORLD ORDER, co-organized by the Alfred Herrhausen Society, took place in Moscow, in which leading figures in politics and finance such as Dr. Tessen von Heydebreck and Andrei Illarionov, advisor to the Russian president, took part. The exhibition opening of From a German Perspective was one of the program’s features. How did you personally experience this encounter between art and the financial world?

AG: The fact that Andrei Illarionov, advisor to the Russian president, also came was a great compliment for us in that Russian ministers don’t normally appear to openings of this kind. So it’s a very special form of recognition. It was great that we were able not only to bring both areas – the activities of the Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft and Deutsche Bank’s commitment to art – together with the collaboration, but were able to fortify them, too. We got to know members of the financial community we’d never otherwise have come into contact with. The businessmen and politicians were fascinated – and there’s a whole group of wealthy art lovers among them who are seeking to invest a part of their fortune in art – it was completely enriching for both sides. A new platform was created. Whether it was the manager of a known German dairy company in Moscow, for instance, or a member of the exclusive Club of Three: almost all the guests expressed a great affinity to the other field. Numerous agreements and new points of contact arose, which brought about a really vital atmosphere of change and mutual interest.

Dinner Night at the Pushkin Museum

Does Deutsche Bank have any plans for further cultural activities in Russia?

AG: The exhibition Robert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition, recently on show at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, will be presented this coming year first in St. Petersburg’s Hermitage and then in the House of Photography in Moscow. There will also be a whole series of conferences following the Moscow symposium. The next one will certainly take place in Vienna together with the Russian participants, and a meeting in Mexico is planned as a next station. The goal of the German-Russian Cultural Encounter 2003/2004 was to cross borders and deepen trust. In this respect, From a German Perspective surpassed our expectations and showed what an important role art plays in terms of understanding and generating new common ideas.

Interview: Oliver Koerner von Gustorf
Translation: Andrea Scrima

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