From the point of view of urban theory history consists of those facets of the environment – buildings, sculptures, infra-structural objects etc. – which originated in previous periods. According to this definition history is not an abstraction but a layer of concrete facts. However, a lot of these architectural facts are mixed with individual and collective myths forming an alloy that is not necessarily based on numbers but nonetheless real.
Palpably, interesting architecture has managed to create a sense of identity and to supported collective memory at all times. In her new installation Keine Atempause, Geschichte wird gemacht Berlin based artist Andrea Pichl investigates the rules and mechanisms that define this process. As 20th implementation of the ongoing series of wallworks at L40 the artist chose to create an isometric projection of the Palace of the Soviets based on a design Hans Poelzig submitted to the architectural contest initiated by Stalin personally in 1931. Although neither Poelzig’s draft nor those of his vanguard competitors Le Corbusier, Gropius or Mendelsohn, were realized it nonetheless appears as an ideal starting point for Pichl’s artistic analysis. References include the destroyed and recently resurrected Cathedral of Christ the Saviour as well as the artist’s personal memories of a giant public pool in the ruins of the aborted winning design by Russian Boris Jofan. Associations are made to the headquarter of the former German communist party close by and to realized and unrealized buildings by Hans Poelzig – as well as some which were destroyed in WWII – that defined the neighbourhood.
To avoid misunderstandings: Although derived from a specific building the artwork is not intended to explain it’s individual history. Instead the genesis of the Palace of the Soviets is used as an essay on the impact of historical and sociological coordinates that effect the urban landscape. Pichl’s installation provides the background for a larger discussion focused on ideational constructs some of which have influenced the immediate neighbourhood of the Kunstverein deeply, which is located at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, once named after Horst Wessel and originally established as Bülowplatz.