Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
We all have ready-made ideas about West and East German design. We are used to think of it in antipodes: two different political systems, two different design philosophies, two different artistic expressions.
Yet, the exhibition “German Design 1949 – 1989: Two Countries, One History” shows: many of the stereotypes we have don’t withstand a closer investigation.
The exhibition compels us to look behind the surface. It wants us to question supposed certainties. It makes us put our own perception into perspective.
For me, this is one of the most important things art and culture can do: making us see the world with someone else’s eyes; making us comprehend and understand others, beyond social or geographical borders.
This is what we want to support with our international cultural policy. We want to enable people to get to know each other, work together beyond borders and gain a mutual understanding for one another. We want to open up spaces and platforms for international cooperation.
One such platform are museums. They are much more than just storages for objects. They can and should be hubs for international dialogue and cooperation – on matters ranging from cultural identity to climate change.
Therefore, we have recently launched a strategy to enhance international museum cooperation. I am glad the Vitra Design Museum will be joining the network. Thanks to the cooperation the present exhibition will also be presented outside Germany.
This will provide great opportunity to reflect the role of design in our societies. Because one thing is for sure: design is much more than just a matter of esthetics. It reflects, but it also shapes social realities.
I wish the exhibition great success. I would like to thank all contributors for their important work. And I wish all the visitors a good and stimulating visit!
The video of my speech can be watched here: