October 2 until November 29, 2015
Commemorating the 25th anniversary of Germany's reunification, the Museum THE KENNEDYS displays the special exhibition »Daniel Biskup · Budapest – Berlin · My path to German Unity« starting on
October 2. The exhibition presents 70 selected, partly unpublished photographs, which are also featured in the accompanying photobook bearing the same title. The images retrace Daniel Biskup's
personal path to German reunification, by reflecting the emotions that the fall of the Berlin Wall triggered not only in the 26-year-old photographer, but which continue to move people in
Berlin, Germany, and throughout the world to this day.
Daniel Biskup was born in 1962 in Bonn, where he grew up. At an early age he developed a passion for photography. At the age of 15 he founded a trade union newspaper and began to photograph contemporary events in Bonn. Peace demonstrations and houses occupied by squatters were the motives of his first photographs. Later Biskup moved to Augsburg, where he studied history, politics, and ethnology. In 1989, Daniel Biskup experienced his break-through as a photographer. In the summer of 1989, the political situation in Eastern Europe reached a peak. On the spur of the moment, he traveled to Budapest and accompanied GDR refugees on their way to the West. The magical attraction of the upheaval in the GDR influenced him greatly. He felt that these events would go down in history.
July 17 – September 20, 2015
The Vietnam War, which claimed the lives of more than 3 million people, was the tragic climax of the Cold War. Carried out by the United States with utmost brutality and ruthlessness, the
conflict sparked worldwide protests and expressions of solidarity with the people of Vietnam, which culminated in the Vietnam War Protests of 1968. It is mainly thanks to the brave war
photographers of the time that such fierce opposition to the war was able to form. The photographers documented the agony of the people and thus gave a face and a tangible component to the
conflict, evoking sympathy among people all over the world.
Chemnitz-born Thomas Billhardt was one of these war photographers. On behalf of several East German print media, the H&R television studios, as well as upon invitation by the Vietnamese government and the GDR's Department of Culture, Billhardt traveled to Vietnam twelve times between 1967 and 1975, and thereby shaped the anti-war attitude of an entire generation: »I wanted people everywhere to take an interest in the fate of the Vietnamese people.« Indeed, almost everyone knew his pictures, which were published and exhibited both in the GDR and in the West. Some could even be found in large format on the exterior of buildings.
Billhardt’s popularity abroad benefited the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, which he had joined in 1968, in the wake of the Vietnam war. The SUP’s interest in publishing pictures documenting the misery in Vietnam was caused by the party’s hope to capitalize on the conflict politically. Hereby, Billhardt’s photographs became part of a war of pictures against the ideological opponent, the United States of America. The pictures were supposed to give the SUP the interpretational sovereignty with regard to the conflict, and depict the socialist society in a positive light. To a war photographer like Thomas Billhardt, this meant that his realistic photo reportages were utilized as a political message.
On a state-to-state level, treaties of amity and assistance between the GDR and »brother nations,« such as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, served as an affirmation of power against the West. As a result, the GDR initiated financial, economic, and military support for Vietnam immediately after establishing diplomatic relations in 1950. Furthermore, educational opportunities for people from Vietnam in the GDR were established as an additional pillar of support for the »socialist brother state.«
In the end, Thomas Billhardt’s photographs should not only be seen in the context of the East-West conflict. The pictures show a young nation on the move. Among many of his pictures from Vietnam, Billhardt captured numerous beautiful, intimate, and even hopeful moments.
January 9 – June 7, 2015
Right on time for the beginning of the BERLIN FASHION WEEK, the Museum THE KENNEDYS presents the special exhibition »THE KENNEDYS – Timeless Fashion Icons« in cooperation with the Department Store of the West–the famous KaDeWe.
At the museum and in the atrium of the KaDeWe, visitors will receive the unique opportunity to view more than 100 impressive vintage photographs by photo artists such as Phil Stern, Orlando Suero, and Steve Schapiro–who have, among others, also done photoshoots with Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Al Pacino. Moreover, the exhibition at the museum will feature rare newspaper editions from the 1960s to today, and video footage, as well as original clothing.
The fascination that the Kennedys earned during their lifetime remains unbroken today, 50 years after John F. Kennedy’s term as president. Unforgettable are the images of the First Lady in monochromatic A-line dresses, accentuated by pearl necklaces and characteristic pillbox hats, which quickly turned her into one of the most influential and distinguished fashion icons. Today her sense of style still serves as a source of inspiration to many.
Jackie Kennedy was not the only one who set new standards for the realm of fashion–the president, too, came to witness the influence his style had on the outer world. It does not come as a surprise that the 1960s hat industry was hardly enthusiastic about the fact that the new president appeared almost exclusively bareheaded in public. Hat-propagandists faced an ever-worsening sales crisis, and even the advertisement slogan »If you want to get ahead, get a hat« proved increasingly unsuccessful.
It is impossible to imagine what fashion as we know it today would be without the influence of the Kennedys. Through their predominantly self-coined, classic, and timeless style, the unfading appeal they convey in photographs creates the impression that the images are but a few years old.