Building Memory – four films about architecture, monuments and community

29. May 2010 - 15. August 2010 Dortmunder U, Level 2

The exhibition Building Memory considers the architecture(s) of memory. In a series of specially commissioned films, the internationally renowned video artists Yael Bartana (Israel/Netherlands), Miroslaw Balka (Poland), Deimantas Narkevicius (Lithuania) and Marcel Odenbach (Germany) address the architecture of memorials and monuments, while investigating the role of media as places of memory and history. The works in this exhibition, which were produced in the context of post-Socialist Central and Eastern European countries, thus contemplate various aspects of the traumatic European experience of the 20th century, from Poland to the former GDR and the conflict arising from the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

Three of these films focus on the memory of the Holocaust: Miroslaw Balka’s video recounts the visit paid to the Auschwitz memorial by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now pope Benedikt XVI; Marcel Odenbach turns his attention to a memorial, built in the sixties, to commemorate the Majdanek concentration camp, reflecting on its architectural language and implications on the history of architecture; and Yael Bartana imagines a re-colonisation of Poland by young Israeli settlers, an essentially impossible project that takes as its point of departure the construction of a kibbutz on the site of the former Warsaw ghetto. Deimantas Narkevičius re-imagines and re-poeticises the everyday of the German Democratic Republic in the seventies and eighties by means of documentary footage from the DEFA archives. All the works in this exhibition revolve around quintessential ‘lieux de mémoire’ – places of memory which, according to the French historian Pierre Nora, can denote geographical locations, but also mythical figures, events, institutions, concepts or artworks, and in which the collective memory of a social community condenses.

The international video art project Building Memory was initiated in 2007 by the Goethe Institute in Warsaw together with the German artist Marcel Odenbach, who produced the film Im Kreise drehen [Going Round in Circles] (2009). Yael Bartana’s Wall and Tower (2009) was supported by the Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej (MSN) and the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, both Warsaw. Into the Unknown (2009), by Deimantas Narkevičius, was commissioned by the British Film Institute (BFI), London, and the Hartware MedienKunstVerein (HKMV), Dortmund, with the support of the Kunststiftung NRW.

Building Memory is a cooperation between the HKMV, Dortmund (DE), the Goethe Institute Warsaw (PL), the Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius (LT), the Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz (PL), and the Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv (IL).

The Building Memory curatorium is made-up of: Inke Arns, Dortmund; Elisabetta Fabrizi, London; Maria Morzuch, Łodz; Marcel Odenbach, Cologne; Simon Rees, Vilnius; Diana Shoef, Tel Aviv and Martin Wälde, Warsaw.

The exhibition will travel to the partner institutions throughout 2010 and will be accompanied by a scholarly publication to be published in 2010.

Building memory - four films about architecture, monuments, and community
May 29 – August 15, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010, 22:00
Greeting: Dr. Barbara Könches (Kunststiftung NRW)
Welcome: Dr. Martin Wälde (Goethe-Institut Warschau)
On the exhibition: Dr. Inke Arns (curator, artistic director of HMKV Dortmund)

HMKV at the Dortmunder U (2nd floor)
Center for  Art and Creativity
44137 Dortmund, Germany

Opening hours
Thu — Fri, 14:00 — 20:00,
Sat — Sun, 10:00 — 20:00,
closed on Mon — Wed

5 € / 3 € (reduced)

Funders and Partners

Funded by

Kunststiftung NRW
Der Ministerpräsident des Landes NRW
Kulturbüro der Stadt Dortmund
Generalkonsulat des Königreichs der Niederlande

Supported by
Polnisches Institut Düsseldorf

Media partner


You will find press material on this program item in our press area.