The Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) uses the project Utopia Kulturforum as an opportunity to situate its building, designed by Rolf Gutbrod, in the context of architectural and urban ideas envisioned during the 1960s and 1970s. Upon entering the museum visitors are immediately greeted by video-mapping projections that transform the prominent open staircase into multiple projection surfaces.
The Berlin Kulturforum’s current design has been shaped by utopias, resulting in a place where the effectiveness and ambivalence of those visions can be experienced through both their successes and failures. The institutions located at the Kulturforum – the Stiftung St. Matthäus, Neue Nationalgalerie, Kunstbibliothek (Art Library), Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts), Philharmonie and Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (SBB, Berlin State Library) – have joined together to present the project Utopie Kulturforum (The Kulturforum as Utopia). Decentralised exhibitions, local discussions and art activities highlight the history of these utopian aspirations that have guided the site’s planning.
Stuttgart architect Rolf Gutbrod envisioned what has become today’s Kulturforum as a new West Berlin Museum Island. It was to be “a lively cultural centre, where people strolled throughout the day”, with apartments on the museum rooftops, restaurants, and pedestrian bridges connecting to Tiergarten park and across the Landwehr Canal. His first design, submitted in 1966, was described as an “exploded grenade” and had to be revised.
The essence of Gutbrod’s proposal was an upwardly sloping square, enclosed by a horseshoe with connections to the various museums. The Kunstgewerbemuseum (KGM) was the only venue constructed and did not open until 1985. It originated as a utopia associated with the large-scale structures of the 1960s, yet the political process leading to the actual building diminished the utopian aspirations of the original design over the years.
The Berlin artist duo prjktr (David Roth and Florian Machner) used this first draft as the starting point for their intervention in the KGM’s prominent stairway, contextualising the building in the charged environment of 1960s architectural and urban utopias. In their video-mapping projections, they transform elements of Brutalist architecture into thematic collages of rolling cities, desert-like superstructures, post-futuristic walk-throughs and Anthropocene abysses. In parallel they position the Kunstgewerbemuseum in the cosmos of buildings realised by architect Rolf Gotbrod, who received the Pour le Mérite for Sciences and Arts (order of merit) in 1971 for his “museums project at Kemperplatz in Berlin that stems from a truly modern idea of museum design.” The press response to the opening in 1985, however, stigmatised the KGM as “a world collection in exposed concrete”, laying the foundation for “one of Berlin’s most unjust architectural legends.”
Prjktr (David Roth and Florian Machner) have been working since 2011 on staging built space by situating in the arena between art and architecture, stage and production, projection and light.
KGM:landed!, an intervention by prjktr, is curated by Claudia Banz, curator of design at the Kunstgewerbemuseum.
A special exhibition of the Kunstgewerbemuseum – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Address / Getting there
U-Bahn: Potsdamer Platz
S-Bahn: Potsdamer Platz
Bus: Potsdamer Brücke, Potsdamer Platz Bhf / Voßstraße, Kulturforum, Philharmonie
Sun 11:00 - 18:00
Tue 10:00 - 18:00
Wed 10:00 - 18:00
Thu 10:00 - 18:00
Fri 10:00 - 18:00
Sat 11:00 - 18:00
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