How is history told? Who tells "the story"? Shaking the plinths.

The surroundings of Berlin's Museum Island are full of male figurative sculptures. They represent Germany's cultural heritage: military leaders, academics and aristocrats. The decorative figures are female, allegories or goddesses, which in turn represent the virtues of the male, patriarchal state architecture.

During a series of workshops, women from the "Aufbruch Neukölln e.V“ association and guests deconstructed some of these sculptures with the artist Birgit Auf der Lauer and me. We developed designs to catapult the old sculptures into the multicultural present of Berlin.

Another sculpture stands in the middle of Neukölln, that of the German nationalist Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778-1852), also known as the father of gymnastics. He is less well known for his racist and misogynist texts. The bronze sculpture of Jahn from 1872 was placed on a large monument in Hasenheide Park by the Nazis in 1936 and still stands there today.

A group of neighbourhood mothers in Neukölln, Birgit and I explored some of the stories that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers told. Stories in which they held their families together in times of fascism, war, displacement and dispossession, thus providing a backbone for society. In this six-month project, a large quilt was created, which we presented together in various situations and even put over the father of gymnastics on one day in the summer of 2018.

Photos: Daniela del Pomar und Paul Holdsworth

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