RMIT Gallery’s special connection with Germany

A special meeting: (left to right) Mr Volkmar Klein, Chairman of the German-Australian-New Zealand Parliamentary Group, Member of German Parliament; Dr Frithjof Schmidt, Member of German Parliament and Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs; Ms Suzanne Davies, Director and Chief Curator RMIT Gallery; Professor Dr Norbert Lammert, President of the German Bundestag.

A special meeting: (left to right) Mr Volkmar Klein, Chairman of the German-Australian-New Zealand Parliamentary Group, Member of German Parliament; Dr Frithjof Schmidt, Member of German Parliament and Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs; Ms Suzanne Davies, Director and Chief Curator RMIT Gallery; Professor Dr Norbert Lammert, President of the German Bundestag.

RMIT Gallery Director and Chief Curator Suzanne Davies joined Prof. Dr. Norbert Lammert, President of the German Parliament, and his delegation for dinner on Friday 31 October at Circa Restaurant in St Kilda.

Dr Lammert is President of the German Bundestag (Parliament) and has held this position for the past nine years. He ranks second only to the President of the Federal Republic. As President of the Bundestag Professor Lammert ensures that Parliament’s rules are upheld and represents Parliament in the public sphere.

Dr Arpad A. Sölter,  Director of the Goethe-Institut Australien, said the special get-together allowed an exchange of thoughts with the German MPs.

(left to right) Dr Arpad A. Sölter,  Director of the Goethe-Institut Australien and Ms Josephine Ridge, Artistic Director of the Melbourne Festival.

(left to right) Dr Arpad A. Sölter, Director of the Goethe-Institut Australien and Ms Josephine Ridge, Artistic Director of the Melbourne Festival.

RMIT and the Goethe-Institut have celebrated more than 35 years of successful collaboration. Ms Davies said that the beginnings of this partnership can even be traced to the early 1970’s, when most educational institutions in Australia were hungry for information and cultural exchanges with countries other than the UK. Since then RMIT Gallery and the Goethe-Institut Melbourne, which was founded in 1972, have created an impressive visual presence of Germany in the heart of Melbourne.

“A key aspect of the early relationship between RMIT and the Goethe-Institut was
the combination of teaching design and fine arts with street front public access for exhibitions at Storey Hall, RMIT Gallery, particularly following its refurbishment in 1996,” she said.

Ms Davies said the partnership between RMIT Gallery and the Goethe-Institut, and Ifa was finely matched and mutually rewarding.

“RMIT Gallery has introduced many leading European artists to Melbourne and facilitated workshops and skill exchange with photographers, designers, architects, town planners, musicians and gold and silversmiths over the past 30 years.” 

Recent collaborations include the successful exhibitions Ulm School of Design (2014); New Olds: Design Between Tradition and Innovation (2012-2013) and Somewhat Different: Contemporary Design and the Power of Convention (2010).

Ms Davies said that next year RMIT Gallery would be the first venue for the new German touring exhibition Geniale Dilletanten (November 2015 – February 2016), which explores the short era of the West German artistic emergence from 1979 to 1989, an age of new ways and new expressions for all artists involved.

Characteristic for this was a broad approach to genres: musicians shot Super 8 mm films; painters played in bands or established clubs, which became incubators for the exploding Geniale Dilletanten [= Ingenious amateurs] scene – not only in Berlin, but also in Dusseldorf, Munich, Bonn, Rosenheim and Erlangen. The exhibition will include the work of Die Einstürzenden Neubauten featuring musician Blixa Bargeld, who produced unheard-of brute noise on their home-made instruments. 

Professor Dr Norbert Lammert, President of the German Bundestag.

Professor Dr Norbert Lammert, President of the German Bundestag.

On Friday 31 October Professor Lammert gave a talk at RMIT in the Kaleide Theatre about Europe, 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, hosted by the EU Centre at RMIT in conjunction with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Australian Institute of International Affairs Victoria, the Goethe-Institut, Monash University and the University of Melbourne EU Centre on Shared Complex Challenges.

Ms Davies said that Professor Lammert’s talk was really riveting and acutely insightful and praised the enlightened vision of the German government in relation to its support of the arts and culture as vital components of public diplomacy and the maintenance of a civil society.

Warlayirti: The Art of Balgo exhibition tour: (left to right) Ms Suzanne Davies, Director and Chief Curator RMIT Gallery shows around Professor Dr Norbert Lammert, President of the German Bundestag and Dr Frithjof Schmidt, Member of German Parliament and Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Warlayirti: The Art of Balgo exhibition tour: (left to right) Ms Suzanne Davies, Director and Chief Curator RMIT Gallery shows around Professor Dr Norbert Lammert, President of the German Bundestag and Dr Frithjof Schmidt, Member of German Parliament and Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

After the talk, Ms Davies hosted the Professor Lammert and his delegation at RMIT Gallery and gave them a tour of the current exhibitions Garnkiny: Constellations of Meaning and Warlayirti: The Art of Balgo and spoke to them about the vitality and contemporary resonance of Aboriginal art and culture.

 

 

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