Exclusive Interview with Gilbert Brüning | 7 years Art from Berlin “BrückenKunst 2019”

"BrückenKunst“ is an association of unknown artists who organizes painting exhibition every year in Berlin, Demmin and in the Museum Park in Rüdersdorf. An extraordinary cultural landscape very close to Berlin.

1 – Firstly, congratulations on this achievement. We see how one of the central axes is culture and the gathering of citizens around art. How has the pandemic affected you and the community, taking into account that this material is from the event that took place in Berlin in 2019?

‘Yes, I also think that culture is one of the most important pivot points of any society. Art is integral to human life. What people in a society value or value less as art is largely influenced by culture.

If people are enthusiastic (or dislike) a certain artwork, even reject it and persecute it, then this sometimes is the result of different cultural perspectives and cultural differences. That is one crucial difference between culture and art. Art is mostly a subjective expression of the experiences of a single person within  the culture in a society.

An artwork also values (or disparages) a society, explains cultural norms that are a part of the dominant (or oppressive) forces in a society.

Yes, the events that are shown in my film show the work of the artists in Brückenkunst from the year 2019. All of the pictures shown here were shot by me for documentary purposes in 2019. In my opinion, the work of the artist group was only slightly affected by the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. For example, all of the group’s exhibitions and events in Berlin, Demmin, and Rüdersdorf were able to take place despite the restrictions during this period.’

2- The cinematographic style of the piece is similar and evokes great experimental and documented works from the history of cinema, such as Robert Kramer’s short film Berlin 10/90. Was this a deliberate use of the resource and if so, how was it intended?

‘I personally don’t see where you recognize similarities between my film and Robert Kramer’s film Berlin 10/90. Plus, I am not too familiar with Kramer’s film because I have not been able to get a hold of the film yet and view it. Up until now I have read some critiques of Kramer’s film online.

Therefore, his film is still not a direct-resource for me. However, from what I have been able to read online so far about Kramer’s film it was shot in about an hour or so; on the other hand, my film took me a whole year to shoot. That is already a huge contrast between our two films.

As far as I understand, Kramer’s film deals with the probable future-unification of Germany and what problems he thinks may lie ahead for Germany and the German people. All of this is expressed through his viewpoint as the director and from the lens of the movie camera. Meanwhile my short deals mainly with a small ensemble of (for the moment) unknown painters who are based in Berlin (Brückenkunst) and who struggle together for ten years to gain artistic recognition in the Berlin-Brandenburg area.

From what I have seen up until now, I believe that perhaps some of the difficulties which Kramer predicted in his film Berlin 10/90, and, which he thought would result from the unfair and hasty unification of East and West Germany (especially in terms of the extreme financial superiority of West Germany in comparison to the former East Germany) are exactly the economic-factors that we (the so-far-unknown-painters from Brückenkunst) are facing now in Berlin & Brandenburg in the year 2021.’

3- How do you think this community, which you show from your perspective as a film artist, has evolved from the beginning of its birth until now?

‘Although our artist group (Brückenkunst) have been organising art exhibitions since 2011, it seems that nobody from the Berlin-Brandenburg artworld has noticed or supported us since the very beginning. This has been going on for ten years already. I personally feel like we are a group of artist who are just riding in a carrousel that goes around and around and nothing ever changes …

When it comes down to it the Berlin-Brandenburg artworld is something like an immoveable stone without compassion. Unfortunately, I see that so far none of the artists in Brückenkunst are able to make a living from his (or her) artworks. Even I have to say that our group of artists simply do not exist for the artworld of the Berlin-Brandenburg area.’

4- How do you think the experiences of the beginning of the post-pandemic may affect the world of art? How does it affect you as an artist?

‘The supposed pandemic itself has had little effect on my personal work as an artist. For one example only, I am painting as usual at home. But, it has been a disaster for the artists (musicians, actors, singers and so on) who depend upon the theaters, opera houses and concert halls of the Berlin-Brandenburg area. Their doors have been closed to the public at large and so the artists involved have had little to no income for almost two years! That´s a long time.

No one can say for sure what kinds of financial and artistic impact such restrictions on the performing artists’ workplaces will have in the future. But, I for one hope that everything will return to a more balanced approach to life. I hope that everything will be the same as before very soon!

5- How do you think the artistic exchange in the communities can be strengthened in these coming times?

‘When society is more open and free, trust flourishes. But if a society is over-regulated, full of fear, and restricted to function only for the advantage of a small minority of individuals naturally this affects the artworld. To put it simply, in such a stifling atmosphere the free-flow of unconventional and creative ideas stops.

Culture itself then comes to a halt. When an individual’s freedom is strengthened, this openness and trust automatically improves the atmosphere for an artist and for the Gestalt of the entire cultural life of his (or her) society. All of the other negative impulses like mistrust, envy, gossip, and even intrigue is not good for a society and it becomes automatically secondary when there is more openess in a society. But of course my personal viewpoint must not be part of the dominant narrative.’

6- What news can you tell us about the current status of the community?

‘Certainly society as a whole has been hit negatively by the recent restrictions related to the supposed pandemic. But this situation of the control over everyone else seems to have been going on for a long time already despite a growing globalization (before we had more provincialism) and an explosion of social networking due to the internet, for one example only.

I also have the impression that we have every day more and more people who think that we live in a “tyranny“. We now have an unprecedented intensity of communication between normal people from all around the world which had been unthinkinkable in other historical time periods.

Still (as I see it) trust and openness in all of the different societies has been in decline for many years. I am not sure of the exact reason for this, but it seems that it has to do with the political classes and that something has gone wrong. As a result of this its seems to me that both a deep skepticism and a a very slow step-by-step reducing of the individual into a state of a slave-like servitude with less and less rights for ordinary people whatsoever has been underway in all social, cultural, and artistic areas within our society for decades.’

7- Do you have more audiovisual projects in mind for the future?

‘Yes, I would very much like to shoot a film about the work of an artist from Sri Lanka, Mr. Anurapala Wiijayaweera. He has been living in Berlin for many years. He is an actor who performs shadow theater pieces for hard-of-hearing children. Unfortunately, at the moment due to the Corona restrictions in Germany his plays cannot be performed. For this reason, I am now waiting for the stringent regulations on the performing arts to be lifted in order to be able to film his work live.’

8- Having already spent the whole year 2020 of the pandemic, what thoughts does that year leave you from the vision as an artist?

‘The Corona Laws had a negative effect on me (and my artist friends) in that we could not carry through our planned readings of contemporary literature as planned. We wanted to read modern texts related to the reunification of Germany in retirement homes. As I mentioned above, I also planned to make a film about the shadow theater pieces of the artist – Anurapala Wijayaweera (the above mentioned artist from Sri Lanka). None of these plans have been possible to realize due to the restrictions in Germany that have been brought down upon the shoulders of many of the artists who are involved in the theater world at the moment.

Despite all of this, I hope that the situation will soon improve and that we will be able to follow through with all of our planned artistic events and ongoing projects soon. My sincere hope for the future is this: I wish that the entire world will re-enter the phase of trust and openness which has been underway for so long, and, I wish that mankind as a whole will again come to understand (and even imagine) that hopefullness for a better future with a mutual respect for different kinds of beauty and freedom is possible for everyone on this earth.

English Translation by Amadea Leonore – JJ

Original Text by Gilbert Brüning

Photographs taken by Amadea Leonore – JJ.

7 years Art from Berlin "BrückenKunst 2019"
Short Film Documentary
Year completed: November 1, 2019 Runtime: 20 minutes Country: Germany Director: Gilbert Brüning

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