past statements


15 Aug 22 — 25 Mar 24

Urban space Munich

View from the side at the bottom of the Siegestor, the sun flashes out from behind the Bavaria at the top of the Siegestor. The oversized pigeon spikes can be seen against the blue sky.

View of the "Victory Spikes" by Steinbrener / Dempf & Huber on the Siegestor © Foto: Tobias Hase

A project to deal with monuments that have become questionable because of their sometimes violence-glorifying and excluding visual language.

Monuments carry messages that are still relevant today, or they sometimes convey content that has long been outdated or is deliberately rejected: They glorify war and violence, celebrate heroes of bygone times, convey prejudices and exclude people. They have become questionable.

With the series “past statements. Denkmäler in der Diskussion” (past statements. Debate on monuments), Munich is picking up on the international and local discussion about monuments worth discussing and stimulating critical, polyphonic and creative debates on the forms and content of remembrance in a diverse and democratic urban society. The program is a cooperation between Public Art München and Public History München.

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The single projects

Michele Bernardi

Ein Ort für ein Wort. Ein Wort für einen Ort (Ein Zeitzeichen)

A place for a word. A Word for a Place (A Time Sign)

Orange lettering Ein Ort für ein Wort. Ein Wort für einen Ort, 2022 © Photo: Michele Bernardi

15 Aug 22 — 31 May 23

Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wirtschaft, Landesentwicklung und Energie, Prinzregentenstraße 28, 80538 München (Map ➚)

The artist Michele Bernardi, who lives in Munich and South Tyrol, deals with three swastikas that can be seen in the windows of the historic building on Oettingenstrasse, which is now the seat of the Bavarian State Ministry for Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy. In an artistic installation, he provides these relics with the words “yesterday”, “today” and “tomorrow”. A subtle examination of the propagandistic legacy of the Third Reich and how it was processed in the post-war period, the present and the future.

Michaela Melián

Maria Luiko, Trauernde, 1938

Maria Luiko, Mourner, 1938

Maria Luiko, Trauernde / 1938, 2022 © Photo: Tobias Hase

19 Sep 22 — 25 Mar 24

Alter Botanischer Garten, Elisenstraße, 80333 München (Map ➚)

The artist is working on the covering of the Neptune Fountain in the Old Botanical Garden that was built during the Nazi era.

The Neptune Fountain was built in 1937 in order to create a place shaped by National Socialist ideology with a connection to the Nazi party district. The sculptor Joseph Wackerle and the architect Oswald Bieber, who were commissioned to design the Neptune Fountain, are on Adolf Hitler’s list of “God-gifted” artists.

Michaela Melián will cover the questionable Neptune figure temporarily with a mesh tarpaulin. The material of the foil is known from construction sites – but this one is printed with an image of a work by the artist Maria Luiko from 1938 entitled “Mourning”. The Munich artist was deported by the SS to Kaunas in November 1941 along with almost 1,000 other people who were persecuted as Jews, and murdered there five days later. The covering with the motif of an anonymous mourning woman is a meaningful counter-response to the ruler pose of the powerful male Neptune body.


Steinbrener / Dempf & Huber

Victory Spikes

Victory Spikes, 2022 © Photo: Steinbrener / Dempf & Huber

21 Sep — 19 Nov 22

Siegestor, 80539 München (Map ➚)

Everyone is familiar with pigeon spikes, a bird repellent device that can be found on a number of listed buildings. The installation by the Viennese artist collective Steinbrener / Dempf & Huber provides the upper plateau of the Siegestor with this device. However, the spikes of the usual 10 centimeters here measure 3.5 metres.

At least since Pablo Picasso’s design for the World Peace Congress in 1949, the dove has become the ultimate symbol of peace. With the oversized dove spikes, the associated dove becomes a gigantic creature for the viewer.

The ambiguous memorial – originally a war memorial, then admonishing peace – is intended to be updated here in the face of war.

Steinbrener / Dempf & Huber deliberately leave it open whether the imaginary defense of an oversized pigeon is intended to address the peace movement or general rearmament in Europe.


Department for public appearances

past monument: Herabsetzung als Kunst – eine Analyse

past monument: disparagement as art – an analysis

An underpass, on the walls various posters, the poster in the middle shows an equestrian statue, but horse and rider are to the left and right of the pedestalpast monument: Herabsetzung als Kunst – eine Analyse, 2022 © Photo: Department for public appearances

9 Sep — 10 Nov 22

Billboards in urban space (Map ➚)

The Munich artist collective Department for public appearances modifies the equestrian statue of Otto I von Wittelsbach in front of the Bavarian State Chancellery. It sets the man from his horse and the horse from its pedestal.

Using Otto I. von Wittelsbach as an example, the department has broken down a traditional form of monument and created a collage that can be seen on posters in the city.

Due to its exemplary character, this intervention opens up a discussion process, offers starting points for communication and discussion and questions the effectiveness of exaltation as a cult strategy of appreciation and worship.


XRE (Extended Reality Ensemble, New York) and denkFEmale (München)

#MakeUsVisible x denkFEmale

AR Monument “Ada Lovelace The Thinker” by Jo Ngo at TU Munich, 2022 © Photo: Anne Wichmann

30 Sep — 31 Oct 22

Urban space Munich (Map ➚)

More than 90% of the statues in Munich portray men. However, a good half of the people in our society do not identify as male. Why is gender diversity still missing in our public space?

The #MakeUsVisible x denkFEmale event uses Augmented Reality (AR) to juxtapose digital monuments of women and non-binary people with the physical male sculptures of the city.

From October 1, 2022, visitors to the free exhibition can make 31 AR monuments visible with their smartphones via a web browser and thus create a new balance in the sculpture landscape themselves. Viewers can find the pairings of sculptures or AR Monument locations online on an interactive map of Munich and via signs with QR codes next to the physical statues.

Forum and accompanying program

Past Statements – Present Futures

7 — 9 Okt 22

Haus der Kunst, Prinzregentenstraße 1, 80538 München (Map ➚)

On 7 and 8 October 2022 Haus der Kunst, in collaboration with the City Department of Arts and Culture of the City of Munich and Freispiel Kulturagentur, will host a multi-day forum entitled „Past Statements – Present Futures“. The panels are convened by Cana Bilir-Meier & Saboura Naqshband, Romi Crawford and Nadja Ofuatey-Alazard as well as Emma Enderby, Damian Lentini and Andrea Lissoni (Haus der Kunst).

Open discussion forum

Der Pasinger Bismarck-Brunnen in der Diskussion

The Pasing Bismarck Fountain under discussion

24 Jun 22

Hall of the Pasing town hall (Map ➚)

Since 1914 there has been a Bismarck fountain in the Pasing district of Munich on what is now Wensauerplatz. The first Reich Chancellor of the German Reich, Otto von Bismarck, who was controversial during his lifetime, was elevated to a nationalistic role model after his death in 1898 with monuments, commemorative plaques and towers throughout the entire Reich. The Pasing fountain shows Bismarck as a hero staged with breastplate, helmet and sword on a rearing horse. The figure is unusually small at 60 cm and is based on a model that the artist made for a Bismarck monument in Nuremberg.

Today, Otto von Bismarck is the subject of public criticism for his repressive policies as Reich Chancellor, his anti-Semitic statements and his role in colonialism. Monuments erected in his honor are the subject of intense debate in many cities. A debate has also already arisen in Pasing: How do we, as a democratic urban society, want to deal with the memorial fountain?

The cultural department of the City of Munich and the District Committee 21 Pasing-Obermenzing cordially invited all those interested to an open discussion forum.


View documentation (in German)

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