As a reaction to the accelerating growth of the global arms industry and the controversial changes to restrictions in German weapons exports, this year’s edition of the competition Art in the Underground takes place under the title Up in Arms (“protesting vigorously against something”). It seeks to focus on and make the structures of arms trade in Berlin transparent through the means of art.
Berlin here is taken as a case study for the global arms industry. A city normally connected with culture, broad-mindedness and history, yet at the same time, Berlin is a center of political power playing an important, but often-overlooked or plainly ignored role in the German as well as the global weapons industry. The project will highlight this by mapping spots, historical as well as present day, related to the system of arms trade with artistic interventions. Art will thereby be given room to fulfill its potential for being up in arms.
The political role of art has been central to the competition since the first edition in 1958. The original motivation and topic for the first edition – open for graphic artists from the DDR – was the political tensions surrounding rearmament and the fear of a new war. The competition was in 1982 for similar reasons taken up again: the arms race was reaching new highs and thus with it the need for artistic reactions or protests. This year’s edition of Art in the Underground can therefore be seen as a reminiscence of the link to peace-project which brought the competition into life. Since the terror attacks of 9/11 global arms trade has grown by more than fifty percent 1, marking a new chapter in the issue of weapons and disarmament. In such a moment, the need for artistic intervention, engagement and resistance re-emerges with pressing relevance.
This year’s edition of Art in the Underground, with the title Up in Arms, aims to do this by dedicating itself to a critical examination of the arms industry. The art works will mark important spots for the arms industry, both historical and present-day, and thereby make the economic and political structures of the trade visible. The artistic interventions will be accompanied by guided city tours focusing on the arms industry’s intense lobby-ism and by an online city map with information and research on those main actors who are situated in Berlin. The interplay of the different parts of the art project seeks to cast a light for the public on the dimensions and consequences of the industry.
More Informationen to the Art in the Underground OPEN CALL here:
OPEN CALL Deadline: 06.05.2019
Time and Place of Art in the Underground:
September – November 2019, Stadtmitte Berlin
nGbK Project Group:
Ayse Güngor, Cassandra Mehlhorn, Gabriela Seith, Amalie Sølling-Jørgensen, Johanna Werner
Project Coordination: Naomi Hennig
Art in the Underground is a project realized by:
Senate Department for Culture and Europe – Art in Urban Space
Left Image: Former Airport Tempelhof - Platz der Luftbrücke 5, 12101 Berlin: A place for military parades in the 18th and 19th century as well as a production place for armament in the time of National Socialism