From November 28, 2019 to October 18, 2020 the Munich Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism showed the exhibitionencompassing contemporary works of art by forty-six international artists. The works focused on the interpretation of the past and how it connects with the present. The artists, who spanned different generations, addressed many different topics in their works, including the resurgence of nationalism, racism, and antisemitism; the violent exploitation of human beings and the natural environment; the cultural and political repercussions of war, repression, and trauma; and the portrayal of national myths. In collaboration with artists and scientists the exhibition set out to create new spaces for discourses of memory and in which to discuss the relevance of memory for the future.
The eponymous book publication, edited by the artistic director of the exhibition, Nicolaus Schafhausen, and the director of the Munich Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism, Mirjam Zadoff, takes these discourses and open questions as its starting point. The approach is interdisciplinary with contributions from authors spanning the fields of history, art, philosophy, journalism, poetry, gender, and urban studies. All of them examine the connection between past and future and ask to what extent knowledge or ignorance of the past influences our view of the present and our future narratives? The approach and topics chosen by the authors range from biographical experiences to intergenerational exchanges, and a discussion of current social phenomena.
They address the complex realities of life in the past and present and draw our attention to shifts in political hegemonies that lead to ostracization, denigration, and destruction. The book explicitly adopts an international perspective to show how universal the forms taken by the phenomena of social polarization and radicalization are in our globally connected world. The book also includes a documentation of the exhibition at the Munich Documentation Center and associated venues.