November 9 was the date, 30 years ago, that the Berlin Wall was taken down by the Peaceful Revolution. It was the date, this past weekend, that the Wende Museum pulled out all the stops for a trifecta – celebrating the unification of Berlin, launching a new exhibit, and premiering Executive Director Justin Jampol’s new television show, “Lost Secrets.”
The event was attended by dignitaries both local and international; Jampol thanked the crowd for attending and recognizing the historic import of the date, and Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells spoke from the podium, saying, “I applaud the extraordinary work of Justinian, of Joes and the entire Wende team to engage the community in exploring our past, and creating an insightful dialogue between the Cold War and our crazy, crazy… crazy present day.”
The remarkable new exhibit, The Medea Insurrection: Radical Women Artists Behind the Iron Curtain, makes excellent use of every space in the Wende. The delightful and astonishing show was created by Altmann for the Albertinum, a modern art museum in Dresden, Germany. The show was adapted for Culver City by Joes Segal, Anna Rose Canzano, and Dany Naierman.
Displaying dozens of artists who were marginalized because of their sex, from the end of WWII right up to the late 80’s and early 90’s, the art is both historic and prescient. The many works that are fiber, cloth, costume or clothing, speak to the stereotypes of ‘women’s work’ as laundry or sewing. They also give a sly smile to the fact that, as the East German government only saw ‘art’ as being paint and canvas, many other forms of creativity did not suffer the same heavy handed regulation. All of the films, photographs, sculptures and artifacts open windows to the world behind the Iron Curtain, and the challenges women face as artists.
Three Los Angeles based artists are also on display; Chelle Barbour’s collages are made of images of items in the Wende’s standing collection, and the paintings of Lezley Saar comment on expectations and costume. The art of Sichong Xie combines performance art, photography and commentary about cultural expectation. They serve as a poignant punctuation how our own culture categorizes women.
The evening also included a screening of Episode #3 of “Lost Secrets,” Jampol’s new series hosted by the Travel Channel. Viewers were given another insight into Cold War brinksmanship and the artifacts left behind. Researching a medal that had been minted but never awarded, Jampol took cameras into abandoned military sites in Germany. By interviewing men who had served in the military during the conflict, answers were gleaned from the evidence. (No spoilers here – tune in to find out.)
The many layers of the event- anniversary, broadcast, exhibit – gave all in attendance reasons to celebrate. The Wende has further cemented their reputation as an expansive and inclusive cultural force in Culver City.