Leipzig, an iconic East German city, is preparing to host an exceptional art exhibition entitled “Re-Connect Art and Conflict in Brotherland“. From May 18 to September 10, 2023, the Museum of Fine Arts Leipzig (MdbK) will present a three-part group exhibition, highlighting the history of immigration to the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and its repercussions. At the heart of the exhibition is contemporary African art, which traces the journeys and conflicts experienced by artists from the socialist sister countries.
The first part of the exhibition offers a unique insight into the influence of international cultural diplomacy at the time. Many African artists were able to study at renowned art schools in Leipzig, Dresden, East Berlin or Halle, thanks to the ties forged between the sister countries. Others fled their homelands to seek refuge in the GDR. This part of the exhibition, comprising 80 paintings, works on paper and videos, aims to broaden the spectrum of Leipzig art and enrich the transnational history of art and culture. Names such as César Olhagaray, Getachew Yossef Hagoss, Michael Touma, Mona Ragy Enayat, Rimer Cardillo, Solomon Wija, Teresa Casanueva and Semir Alschausky will resonate through the rooms, testifying to the diversity and importance of African art in East Germany.
The second part of the exhibition “Re-Connect Art and Conflict in Brotherland” is dedicated to the promotion of young artists. The MdbK offers a platform to young artists with (post-)GDR biographical references. Talents such as Philipp Farra, Minh Duc Pham, Alina Simmelbauer, Sarnt Utamachote and Phuong Phan will present their works, exploring in particular their own family histories and the theme of migration. This part of the exhibition offers a fresh, contemporary perspective, giving a voice to the new generation of African artists who have emerged in the land of the brothers.
The third and final part of the exhibition “Re-Connect Art and Conflict in Brotherland” tackles a delicate but crucial subject: the taboo of racism in the GDR and the living conditions of contract workers, foreign students and their descendants. The striking photographs by Leipzig-based photographer Mahmoud Dabdoub provide a poignant insight into this reality. The exhibition archive also collects current testimonies from Leipzig’s (post-)migrants, who share their perspectives on life in the GDR and their experience of growing up as BIPOCs (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) in the province of Saxony.
“Re-Connect Art and Conflict in Brotherland” is much more than an exhibition of contemporary African art. It is a journey through the complex history of immigration to the GDR, and an invitation to reflect on the conflicts and struggles faced by African artists. This group show highlights their creativity, resilience and ability to overcome cultural and political barriers.