Revolutions are dynamic. Revolutions take place on the street. Revolutions occur when people get involved. These principles shaped the collaborative project “100 Years of Revolution – Berlin 1918-19”, which commemorated the birth of the first German democracy between November 2018 to March 2019. 250,000 visitors took up our invitation to explore this tumultuous period and its political legacy.
Spanning over 250 exhibitions and events across Berlin, the project highlighted the formative events of 1918-19 and considered their lasting impacts from a variety of perspectives. Six of Berlin’s regional museums, Stadtmuseum Berlin, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin Museum of Photography, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Friedhof der Märzgefallenen, history associations, local initiatives, and research institutes as well as leading federal institutions contributed to this commemorative season of events. Artists, galleries, theatres, memorial and educational institutions, public associations, foundations and a variety of cultural institutions also took part, staging a host of events, open-air projects, exhibitions and other programmes. Over 70 partner organizations contributed to the success of the commemorative season.
Kulturprojekte Berlin was responsible for the development and realization of the overarching campaign. As well as coordinating cooperation among the partner organizations, Kulturprojekte Berlin developed a comprehensive programme for indoors and outdoors that took to the streets with a vintage freight wagon, art actions, and informative displays. A series of events at the Podewil Centre – rebranded for the duration of this season as the “Revolutionary Centre” – traced the impacts of the German Revolution up to the present day. A special exhibition was created for Berlin’s House of Representatives, formerly the seat of the representative assembly of the Kingdom of Prussia, reflecting on the events of the revolution. And finally, Kulturprojekte Berlin published a detailed topography of the revolution – “Es lebe das Neue! Berlin in der Revolution 1918/19” (Long live the new! Berlin and the Revolution of 1918–19) – which has been praised by critics as “the new standard work on the revolution in Berlin”.
100 Locations – 100 Stories
Berlin was the decisive theatre of the 1918-19 revolution. But where exactly did events unfold? 100 key locations were highlighted with eye-catching red posters applied to surfaces across Berlin, transforming the city into a walkable history book. These informative exhibits drew attention to particular events, individuals or important dates across all of the city’s districts, bringing the past into the present at historic sites. All 100 stories are available on the project website: www.100jahrerevolution.berlin
Revolution on the Road
A 100-year-old freight wagon, similar to those used to build barricades during the revolutionary period, served as a mobile exhibition space for original artistic projects and an educational programme, with stations at Alexanderplatz, Breitscheidplatz, Potsdamer Platz and other historic sites of the German Revolution. The art collective Plastique Fantastique used a transparent pneumatic structure to transform the freight wagon into an inviting space for debate and dialogue. In February and March, the structure hosted a work by renowned Japanese installation and performance artist Chiharu Shiota – formed from a dense network of red threads, “Lifelines” created a space for encounters between art and revolution.
Podewil Revolutionary Centre
The offices of Kulturprojekte Berlin were rebranded for the duration of the commemorative season as the “Podewil Revolutionary Centre”, where a series of events took place in cooperation with partners from the arts, politics and civil society. Spanning a range of formats – talk shows, concerts, lectures, conferences, theatre performances, poetry slams and walking tours – these events engaged with current debates around issues such as freedom of assembly, political participation, work and equal rights. The events at the Podewil Revolutionary Centre brought prominent experts and commentators together with researchers, historians, and members of the public.