The Museum of European Cultures: A Must-Visit for New MA Euroculture students

The Museum of European Cultures emerged in 1999 from the Museum of Folklore and the European section of the Museum of Ethnology. The collection counts around 250,000 objects. Its small exhibition can be seen as an introduction to European cultures for new MA Euroculture students or as a revision for “Euroculturalists”.

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Bianca Rubino│biancarubino@gmail.com

Does European identity exist? The question has come up thousands of times during the MA Euroculture Program, but maybe only a few people know that there is a museum dedicated to it. I am not talking about the Parlamentarium, the Visitors’ Centre of the European Parliament inaugurated in Brussels which presents different exhibitions on two topics, EU institutions and EU integration, but about the Museum of European Cultures in Berlin. The latter is an ethnographic museum, which is part of the Dahlem Museums, and thus of the National Museums in Berlin. The Museum of European Cultures emerged in 1999 from the Museum of Folklore and the European section of the Museum of Ethnology. The collection counts around 250,000 objects. Its small exhibition can be seen as an introduction to European cultures for new MA Euroculture students or as a revision for “Euroculturalists”.

The itinerary of the permanent collection “Culture Contacts. Living in Europe” indeed explores the cultural contactsand cultural diversity from the nineteenth century until today. A Venetian gondola from 1910 symbolically leads the way. It represents trade, migration, travel, and cultural identity. The exhibition begins with the theme of “migration”. The Earth is described with the words of the German historian Karl Schlögel as a “planet of nomads”. A big plastic Doner Kebab, dish introduced in the 1970s by a former Turkish “Guestworker”, is taken as symbol of cultural contacts through food. Borders: What do they stand for? What is their meaning?

“The Earth is described as a planet of nomads and a big plastic Doner Kebab is taken as symbol of cultural contacts through food…”

Another section is dedicated to cultural localisation and folklore. Typical textiles from Spain, Czech Republic and Greece are exhibited. But also music such as the traditional songs from Sardinia can be heard. Besides the “Gondola” another means of transportation – the beautiful hand decorated “Carretto Siciliano” – a Sicilian cart, stands there. Furthermore, funny cartoons show the stereotypes of all the different nationalities in Europe. The exhibition also warns about the phenomena of populism and conflicts.

On the wall the photographs of the German artist Sabine Von Bassewitz, part of her collection “Unisono”, show the gatherings of different kinds of people with the same passion, standpoint or affiliation, thus exploring the meaning of community. Communities are in fact the kernel for cultural production and cultural interaction. A similar exhibition on communities could be found at the Museum of Cultures of Basel, Switzerland. Another artist, the Berlin fashion designer Stephan Hann, investigates the issue of transnationalism. He presents a particular dress named “Europakleid”, which is made of pictures, maps, textiles, and items of different origins in Europe.

“Communities are in fact the kernel for cultural production and cultural interaction…”

The Museum of European Cultures also dedicates a section to religion, in particular focusing on Christianity and Islam. It exhibits Nativity scenes from Poland, France, Italy, and Germany along with votive paintings, but also Ramadan calendars. The interactions between Muslims and Christians are highlighted. The last room is dedicated to the huge mechanical Nativity scene from the Erzgebirge.

Through a scientific lens the permanent exhibition presents different items and topics, and prepares the table for discussion. On 2nd August was the inauguration of the temporary exhibition “I’m not Afraid of Anything”, which comprises ofone hundred portraits of European youths from Portugal, Moldova, Romania, Italy, Iceland, Germany and the United Kingdom, accompanied by interviews that were realised by Edgar Zippel. What are their dreams? What are their fears? Are they the same as yours?

“You might find inspiration for your IP paper, Master’s Thesis or a topic for an interesting talk with friends…”

If you are a Euroculturalist, you probably won’t remain astonished by the exhibition but it is still worth it. Do as I did: go there with another MA Euroculture colleague or maybe a friend outside of the Euroculture-bubble;maybe you will find inspiration for your IP paper, Master Thesis or just for an interesting talk that you could lead with a friend who does not know anything about it. The museum poses questions. So what is your opinion about European identity?

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Museum of European Cultures

Student price 4 Euro

U-Bahn U3 (Dahlem-Dorf), Berlin

BiancaBianca RubinoExhibition Editor

Bianca is Italian with Swiss roots. She studied BA Humanities for the study of Culture in Modena, Italy, and went on Erasmus to Malmö, Sweden. She studied in the University of Groningen and the University of Strasbourg as part of her MA Euroculture Programme. She did an internship at Interarts, based in Barcelona, Spain, in the field of cultural project management and cultural policy. Currently, she is participating in European Voluntary Service (EVS) Programme in Romania. Her interests are anthropology, sociology, artistic and cultural life and institutions, cultural management and policy, and many more. She has the smallest feet a girl ever had.

Marseille-Provence 2013: A dive into the Mediterranean

Marseille, a lively multicultural city and ancient Greek port, still continues to live from the sea. Walking from the Gare St. Charles, you can already feel it: the sound of people out in the streets and the view and smell of the sea… Marseille-Provence 2013 has extensively worked on this dimension to make its programme’s Arianna’s red string the Mediterranean indeed.

Bianca Rubino│biancarubino@gmail.com

Culture is not the first word that comes to mind when thinking about Marseille: the second largest city in France, notoriously unsafe and dangerous, especially according to the French media who have recently reported several incidents of gun shootings. This is why the title of European Capital of Culture provides Marseille and the surrounding area of Provence, including the towns of Aix, Arles and Aubagne, with a significant opportunity to change its image.

3Marseille, a lively multicultural city and ancient Greek port, still continues to live from the sea. Walking from the Gare St. Charles, you can already feel it: the sound of people out in the streets and the view and smell of the sea… Marseille-Provence 2013 has extensively worked on this dimension to make its programme’s Arianna’s red string the Mediterranean indeed. And so it was, on 12-13 January 2013, that a full year of performances, exhibitions and cultural events and exchanges saw its start.

The first step to plunge into Marseille-Provence 2013 is to visit the Pavillon M (Pavillon de Marseille): this centre is open for the entire year and in it you can discover Marseille and Provence through videos, maps and interactive devices. In the building, it is also possible to collect information about the programme of Marseille-Provence 2013 and, when needed, buy tickets. Pavillon M is situated in the area of the Vieux-Port, a small harbour overlooked by Notre-Dame De la Garde from one of Marseille’s hill tops. The Vieux-Port, characterised by numerous touristic restaurants, can be pleasant for a walk, for shopping at the fish and flower markets, and for enjoying the view of the boats anchored there. For the occasion of Marseille-Provence 2013, an interesting mirror canopy has been built and animal-shaped sculptures have been collocated in the main quay.

2The city harbour has been central to the immense urban renovation of the city. From 1995, renewal started with the private and public initiative of Euromed (Euro-Mediterranean project). In fact, Marseille-Provence 2013 counts upon several new cultural infrastructures built or remodelled by prominent architects. Some worthy of mentioning are the Mucem (Museum of Civilisations from Europe and the Mediterranean) by Rudy Ricciotti, the Villa Méditerranée by Stefano Boeri, the Frac by Kengo Kuma, and the J1 Hangar by Catherine Bonte which will offer a new shape to the harbour. Unfortunately at the moment, this vision is slightly hindered by the on-going construction sites, still there even three months after the launch of the Capital of Culture.

The above-mentioned J1 Hangar, from where it is possible to enjoy a beautiful view of the Cathédral Notre-Dame de la Major, is already accessible and utilises a space of 6000 m2 for exhibitions and other events such as performances. Until 18 May, it will host the exhibition “Mediterraneans. From yesterday’s cities to today’s men”, an itinerary narrating the history of the Mediterranean through the histories and descriptions of eleven port cities (Troy, Tyre, Athens, Alexandria, Rome, Al-Andalus, Venice, Genoa, Istanbul, Algiers and, of course, Marseille). The exhibition combines historical objects and recent video-interviews reporting on different topics, and revolves around history and current societies trying to understand what it means to be Mediterranean today. Bravely someone has already offered her answer, writing in the guest-book: «I feel fully Mediterranean, thank you for this new identity. Julie».

4aWalking from the centre to the periphery of the city, another very interesting cultural infrastructure is La Friche Belle de Mai, which has also benefited from the Euro-Mediterranean project. Situated in its namesake neighbourhood Belle de Mai, this former tobacco factory was turned into a cultural centre in 1992 and, after two years of further renovation, it has reopened. It’s an impressive multi-purpose space open for exhibitions, ateliers, theatre, shows, cultural activities and cultural organisations’ offices. Here you can also meet friends for a glass of wine or dinner, teenagers can skateboard, and parents can bring along their children to play in the outdoor spaces which include small gardens.

La Friche Belle de Mai hosted until 31 March “Ici, ailleurs” (“Here, Elsewhere”), an exhibition which brought together thirty-nine artists from the Mediterranean area, showing sculptures, paintings and photography. Two of those artists have taken part in the project “Les Ateliers de l’EuroMéditerranée”, which consists of residences of artists in unusual places outside the cultural field, aiming to support contemporary creation, shape a new artistic production model, and involve new audiences.

Marseille-Provence 2013 offers around six hundred events throughout the year. In the coming months, interesting events such as the exhibition “Le grand atelier du midi”, the “Transhumance” performances, and the festival “This is (not) music” are waiting to be experienced. The investment undertaken for Marseille-Provence 2013 is surely visible through the new buildings, or new uses of old ones. The biggest challenge will be to insure the long-term effects of cultural and social directives which refer to the city and to the Mediterranean as a whole: will Marseille-Provence 2013 be a turning point for Euro-Mediterranean cooperation?

marseille feature

Bianca Rubino, Exhibition Editor

Bianca is Italian with Swiss roots. She studied BA Humanities for the study of Culture in Modena, Italy, and went on Erasmus to Malmö, Sweden. She is now enrolled in MA Euroculture , which she studied in the University of Groningen and the University of Strasbourg. She did an internship at Interarts, based in Barcelona, Spain, in the field of cultural project management and cultural policy and is now back in Strasbourg to finish her MA thesis. Her interests are anthropology, sociology, artistic and cultural life and institutions, cultural management and policy, and many more. She has the smallest feet a girl ever had.

Franco-German Interferences on Exhibition at MAMCS

                        Interférences/Interferenzen Architecture: Germany and France 1800-2000               

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Herbert Bayer, Le Werkbund allemand à l’Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs. Salle 5. Vues d’architectures modernes en Allemagne, avec des maquettes du Bauhaus de Dessau (Walter Gropius) et de la banque régionale de Stuttgart (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe), Paris (1930), tirage argentique, 12,6 x 21,6 cm. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn

Bianca Rubino│biancarubino@gmail.com

Inspirational meeting with the renowned architectural historians Jean-Louis Cohen, Professor at New York University, and Hartmut Frank, Professor at the Hafen-City University of Hambourg, also curators of the exhibition “Interférences/Interferenzen Architecture: Germany and France 1800-2000” which delivers an exceptional approach to discover the architectural and urban interferences between Germany and France, exploring the architectural space of Europe.

The city of Strasbourg seems to embody the best scenario to frame and host the exhibition named “Interférences/Interferenzen Architecture: Germany and France 1800-2000”, as inaugurated on 28 March 2013 and which will run until 21 July 2013 at the MAMCS (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Strasbourg).

28 March - 21 July 2013 at MAMCS, Strasbourg
28 March – 21 July 2013
at MAMCS, Strasbourg

This is a truly Franco-German project, conceived and realised by the Franco-German architectural historian pair of Jean-Louis Cohen and Hartmut Frank, which clearly sees the result of life-long passionate careers and research. Both men have always been interested in interpreting certain architectural phenomena through a common perspective, not necessarily a national point of view that could hinder the complexity of architecture. Already twenty-five years ago the first ideas of the project exhibited today emerged, but it was only about four years ago, after a long series of separate and joint professional ventures, that an extended project began to see its realisation thanks to the positive response of the city of Strasbourg. At this time, the city was also working on the project of the extension of their UNESCO World Heritage site. The “Grande-Île” (“Big Island”) had already been inscribed as such since 1988, and now work was being done to extend the World Heritage area to the Neustadt (“New City” but also known as the “German Quarter”), an urban area realised at the end of the XIX century after Alsace and part of Lorraine became part of the German Empire.

Explaining the choice of the term “Interferences”, or better Interférences/Interferenzen, as key words for the exhibition, Jean-Louis Cohen and Hartmut Frank like to stress the reasoning behind it. Concepts such as Cultural Transfers, Interactions, Histoires Croisées, Contaminations, or Influences could have been used, but they decided to borrow a concept of physics which refers to electro-magnetic fields. In fact, Interférences/Interferenzen best express the idea of the effect that each national French and German cultural field has on the other.

The exhibition embodies a new approach in the field of architecture, not separating countries, in this case France and Germany, but working on the totality with the aim to show their many levels of observation and mutual exchange.

5.Leger
Fernand Léger, Les Constructeurs, 1950, huile sur toile, 126 x 143 cm, Henie Onstad Art Centre, Høvikodden, Norvège. Photo: Øystein Thorvaldsen © ADAGP Paris 2013

With around 600-700 m2 of space and more than 400 pieces from 60-100 different sources, rarely or never yet exhibited, from the spheres of architecture, art and history, Interférences/Interferenzen is an extraordinary exhibition. Its itinerary chronologically leads the visitor from the aftermath of the French Revolution and Empire until today, guiding from Napoleon to Angela Merkel, from Schinkel to Nouvel. The exhibition path follows nine sections, each of them developing further themes. You begin with gothic and classic crossed passions and art from Schinkel and Hugo, then move to the dawn of the industrial age and new issues of workers’ accommodation, and later to the phenomenon of nationalism and new urbanities with Haussmann in Paris and James Hobrecht in Berlin. In the XX century, you find monumental rhetoric, the use of concrete, and arrive to the First World War. Continuing, you discover the occupations and reconstructions of 1939-1949 and then modernisation, the dialogue between France and the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, and end with a united Europe and the mobility of professors, architects and students (referring also to the Erasmus Programme, of course!).

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Otto Warth. Campus und Gebäude der Universität Straßburg (Palais universitaire), 1878-84, épreuve historique d’après photo n&b, 48×64 cm. Südwestdeutsches Archiv für Architektur und Ingenieurbau (saai) Karlsruhe

Strasbourg is present in almost all of the sections. In particular, it is referred to in the context of the Franco-Prussian war in the late XIX century and the subsequent construction of new areas in the city, as well as the cité-jardin by Edouard Schimpf constructed in the area of Stockfeld and the bridge in the Jardin des deux rives which, built in 2004 by the French architect Marc Mimram, connects Strasbourg to the closest German city of Kehl. The exhibition ends with a stand of the city of Strasbourg presenting the project of the extension of the perimeters of the safeguarded sector, the extension of the UNESCO World Heritage site to include the Neustadt, and the inventory of the Neustadt. The inventory of the Neustadt is being carried out by the Region and Sophie Eberhardt, who is working on the UNESCO application at the Culture Department of the City of Strasbourg, considers the exhibition to be a great opportunity to question the idea of frontiers and how to overpass them. She also considers it to be a great opportunity to raise awareness among Strasbourg’s population and its visitors, and foster exchanges between experts about architecture which is neither unequivocally German nor French. Hartmut Frank also believes that the re-evaluation of a part of the city that is historically not appreciated (even the colossal Palais du Rhin’s existence was questioned in the late 1950s) is demonstrative of a radical change in line with a European dimension and which indicates awareness of the fact that Strasbourg’s three wars represent the legacy of the city, which is in fact a Franco-German history. He also points out that the Neustadt was realised by 80% of local architects that had studied in Paris or Karlsruhe, thus being urban planning as a result of interferences of city planning from Paris and Berlin.

The exhibition required a lot of dedication because, as Frank reminds: “Architecture is not easy to communicate, the only true exhibition of the architecture is the city, the exhibition in a museum is always a translation”. In this, they have been helped by an architect agency for the display, Frenak & Jullien Architectes, and Volker Ziegler, lecturer at the École nationale supérieure d’architecture of Strasbourg, is the associate curator.

When asked to send a message to the MA Euroculture students, Jean-Louis Cohen says: “Go to school but do not limit yourself. Go outside, observe the landscape, meet people and you will learn as much as you can do at university”.

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MAMCS, Crédit photo : Mathieu Bertola

* Practical information:

Tickets cost 7 Euro, reduced price 3,5 Euro. Free entry with Carte Culture or on the first Sunday of every month.

There is a book-catalogue of the exhibition available. The texts of the exhibition, which has been jointly organised with the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt, are bilingual, in French and German. The next destination for the exhibition will be Frankfurt, from 28 September 2013 to 13 January 2014.

Bianca Rubino, Exhibition Editor

Bianca is Italian with Swiss roots. She studied BA Humanities for the study of Culture in Modena, Italy, and went on Erasmus to Malmö, Sweden. She is now enrolled in MA Euroculture , which she studied in the University of Groningen and the University of Strasbourg. She did an internship at Interarts, based in Barcelona, Spain, in the field of cultural project management and cultural policy and is now back in Strasbourg to finish her MA thesis. Her interests are anthropology, sociology, artistic and cultural life and institutions, cultural management and policy, and many more. She has the smallest feet a girl ever had.

Strasbourg: Pas Seulement Capitale Européenne!

Bianca Rubino | biancarubino@gmail.com

The European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, the city of tartes flambées and of storks. These are the most popular visions associated with the city of Strasbourg. But actually the city, whose Pont de l’Europe connects France and Germany, besides being a “European Capital” due to the many European institutions and NGOs located there, enjoys a vibrant cultural life.

This can be easily guessed thanks to the Boutique de la culture which stands in front of the impressive Cathédrale Notre-Dame and sells all the possible tickets of cultural events in town. At closer look, if we talk about music, there are several venues, from small spots to bigger concert halls, which stage good live music performances.

François & The Atlas Mountains performing at La Laiterie on the 24th March 2012

Firstly, La Laiterie is a cultural institution. Situated in the city’s former milk factory district, it now offers a great variety of concerts all year long. Here, in the last saison, bands such as M83 and Django Django performed: the first, French guys concluding their European tour creating an intense atmosphere; the latter, British boys putting the room on fire with their electronic beats. Frànçois and the Atlas Mountains are also worthy of attention. They play indie-pop/indie-folk and, if you check them out, you’ll probably not get the romantic tune “Les plus beaux” out of your head.

Secondly, Stimultania’s principal vocation is photography. Last February it hosted an exhibition-conference of and about the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and his photo-reportage, “Images d’Algérie”, about Algeria in the years 1958 to 1961. This exhibition-conference coincided with the 40th anniversary of the end of the bloody Algerian war and successive Algerian independence. Stimultania also organises des apéros-concerts and, after having presented artists of such calibre as American dark-rock group Xiu Xiu, the next few months will see some concerts within the framework of the Festival Jazzdor (8-23 November 2012).

Likewise, Apollonia – European Art Exchanges is a cultural institution which occasionally offers special musical events, as happened, for example, with the photo-concert of the duo Grand March and Stéphane Louis (which you will be able to see again on 16 November at La Laiterie).

Actually, there are many more cultural venues, such as Molodoi – Centre Autonome Jeunes (a self-managed space), l’Artichaut (Thursday jam sessions), Mudd (a small venue for underground rock, punk, psychobilly, and jazz bands) and Zénith (a big concert hall)… So for the coming semester, if you are there working, studying, as a stagiaire, or if you are simply passing through Strasbourg, do try to discover its musical rhythm as well.

Here are some suggestions for the next season in La Laiterie (October and November 2012): Wave Machines (electronic, 17 October), Johnny Winter (king of rock-blues, 31 October), Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (great electronic beats, 2 November), Animal Collective (whose new album was released this summer – rock, 3 November), Blood Red Shoes (rock duo, 8 November), Eiffel (French pop-rock, 10 November), and Grand March (rock duo, 16 November).

Student tip: don’t miss la carte culture which gives you great discounts, and be sure to take advantage of the cultural ticket office inside the university campus.

If liked Bianca’s article, also read Eurosonic Festival: starting the year with the right beat!

Bianca Rubino, Exhibition Editor

Bianca is Italian with Swiss roots. She studied BA Humanities for the study of Culture in Modena, Italy, and went on Erasmus to Malmö, Sweden. She is now enrolled in MA Euroculture , which she studied in the University of Groningen and the University of Strasbourg. She is currently doing an internship at Interarts, based in Barcelona, Spain, in the field of cultural project management and cultural policy. Her interests are anthropology, sociology, artistic and cultural life and institutions, cultural management and policy, and many more. She has the smallest feet a girl ever had.