The Forgotten Pioneers

September 28, 2014

This November, Berlin will celebrate 25 years of the fall of the Berlin wall. Like every year, numerous events and performances across the city will follow this anniversary. Themes will include the division of the city, the Cold War and the events leading up to peaceful reunification in 1989-1990. All the visitors will get the chance to get to know the history of Berlin as a divided city and the significance of the Wall for its residents. For month an a half starting October 2nd, Berlin based art institution District will be presenting the event entitled “The Forgotten Pioneers Movement” that will feature performances, exhibitions, public seminars and a guide book. Project The Forgotten Pioneers Movement explores the experiences of the last, transitional European pioneer generation between socialism and post-socialism. Main focus of the event is the societal perspective of an artists’ generation that grew up in the “post-Western” Europe of the 1990s. Through various performances at a number of different locations in Berlin, this project activates the process of bearing witness to these “last pioneers” who experienced the perestroika and the collapse of former socialist states as children and adolescents.

The Forgotten Pioneers
The Berlin wall



Starting October 2, the opening day is split into three parts – SET #A presents PERFORMANCES, starting with bankleer - an art collective from Germany famous for their performances, docu-fictional videos and the usage of the techniques of Expanded Cinema creating installations on the subject of labor and economic critic. They frequently change contexts, switching between public space and artistic institutions, interweaving political initiatives with artistic actions, but also use activities and performances in order to transform current discourse into practice and to create an active interaction with their audience. They will kick off The Forgotten Pioneer Movement with the performance “Sleepy Hollows” at Spreetreppen behind the Bundestag, starting at 2pm.

The Forgotten Pioneers
Bankleer - Sleepy Hollows, Photo: Louis Haugh

Sleepy Hollows

The group of sculptures “Sleepy Hollows” (2013), followed by the (anti-) propaganda vehicle TohuBassBuuh (2014) navigated by Frauke Hehl are part of the series “Munition from giants for dwarves”. The agents of bankleer's performances are fragmented pieces of the monumentalized bodies of political and economic leaders, as well as of a revolutionary. Locating the body at the centre of the problem of understanding the destructive force of financial markets today, they move among the representational buildings of German democracy, bouncing into each other and the audience.

Next Page: The Guidebook 

The Forgotten Pioneers

The Guidebook

Second part of “The Forgotten Pioneers Movement”, SET #B - EXHIBITIONS starts at 6pm with the launch of the “The Forgotten Pioneer Movement – Guidebook” to the project published by Textem in Hamburg. The Guidebook includes an introduction, images and texts for the presented artistic contributions, as well as two essays by art historians Ieva Astahovska and Ana Bogdanović. Using installation, sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, video and reference material, the participating artists engage with the afterlife of the socialist past(s) and signs and symbols of the present.

The publication explores strategies and discourses from visual as well as performative arts in order to approach the “future behind us” described by art historian Edit András as a pan-European experience independent of geopolitical classifications. 120 pages of theoretical and artistic contributions will create new connections between that remote future and the present. Location of the event is at District, Bessemerstraße 2-14.

The Forgotten Pioneers
Marina Naprushkina, 'We are Belarus', 2007


An hour later, at 7pm also at District, visitors will have the chance to enjoy the performance while the artist group SKILLS lends their bodies and voices to a manifestation of the pioneer spirit. To the rhythm of clattering porcelain, they will try to reinterpret former young pioneers, aviation pioneers, cosmonauts and explorers of outer space, pioneers of art and science, pioneering plants in inhospitable areas, pioneers of gentrification, business punks and neo-liberal pioneering companies, “at work”. As the audience that already saw their work knows, bodies and movement plays a crucial role in their performances and uses it as starting points for the production of electronic live music and soundscapes. Within an installation-like stage setting in the abandoned Kesselhaus opposite District at Malzfabrik, physicality and action are amplified by various technical devices to acquire almost sculptural character.

The Forgotten Pioneers
Eglė Ambrasaitė, Imagining the Absence, video still, 2014, ©Museum Aikas Zado Live

Set #C is reserved for PUBLIC SEMINAR

After the opening on October 2, all over Berlin there will be performances, together with an exhibition and seminars that are part of The Forgotten Pioneer Movement. From 3rd October all the way through 29th November, District will explore the phenomenon of the last generation of pioneers in the transitional phase between socialism and post-socialism. Be sure not to miss this amazing event!

The Forgotten Pioneers
Alexandra Pirici, 'Delicate Instruments Handled With Care', 2014, enactment of emoticons

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