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Arwed Messmer
Anonymous Heart
March 6 - April 10, 2010

Friday, March 5, 7-10pm

Breite Strasse©2007 Arwed Messmer, Breite Strasse 1-11, Chancellery Wing of the Staatsrat Building with the Bridging of Neumannsgasse to the former Ministry of Civil Engineering of East Germany, 85 x 440cm

Messmer's work focuses primarily on investigating the topography of modern cities. A recurring subject has been the transformation of Berlin, where he has lived since 1992. Influenced by the documentary style, his focus has been not only on the visible metamorphoses of architecture, but also on the historical dimension of these places, which like a filter colors our perception of current reality.

Arwed Messmer’s Anonymous Heart is the nucleus in Berlin’s historic center, out of which today’s metropolis has developed. The first photographs from this extensive series, which have recently been published as a book, were already taken in the beginning of the 1990s. Messmer views himself in a documentary tradition, which he takes up and changes at the same time. He combines his own images with historic images that he appropriates from archives, thus transferring them to a new context of meaning, while blurring the borders of authorship.

The exhibition Anonymous Heart juxtaposes 2 panorama images from the series, each 4,40 meter in length. Both images show buildings shortly before their destruction, a historic image of the legendary city castle and a contemporary image of the former Staatsrat Building along with the former Ministery of Civil Engineering of East Germany, which is scheduled for demolition in 2010.

Schloss©1949/2009 Arwed Messmer/Fritz Tiedemann/LDA Berlin, Section Shots of the Southside of the City Castle Ruin, 85 x 440cm

The juxtaposition of the two works exemplifies a project of somewhat larger scope. Dilapidation and destruction are already immanent to every building structure. Here, however, something more decisive should be considered. Berlin’s historic center is a representative space, a place for aspirations, projections and myths. What is done here, sets the tone for the rest of the republic, so to speak.

Viewing history in longer periods of time, as Arwed Messmer does, patterns begin to emerge that facilitate a broader perspective. At this point in time, the historic center of Berlin is noticeably empty and anonymous. While buildings from former East Germany increasingly disappear, an attempt is made to reconnect to a feudal past by rebuilding the city castle. And so Messmer photographs existing structures in the knowledge that they won't last but also conscious of the fact, that history cannot be repressed.

Petra Karadimas


A postcard edition of the Berlin TV Tower will be published in conjunction with the exhibition. Available through the gallery are also a poster of the TV Tower, 100 x 140cm, and signed copies of the book Arwed Messer (Ed.) Anonymous Heart Berlin.