Symposium “Memory and politics – new currents in memorials today”

  Nordische Botschaften Berlin
Summit 2018: event

19/06/2018, 10:00 – 16:00

Koeniglich Daenische Botschaft

Nordische Botschaften Berlin
Rauchstraße 1
10787 Berlin

The Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces and the Royal Danish Embassy kindly invites to a symposium on memorials and the culture of remembrance in Europe.

Through presentations of current perspectives on and examples of memorials, monuments and other sites of remembrance in mainly Denmark and Germany, the symposium will explore the meaning and relevance of memorials and monuments today. Experts and artists will investigate the development in the course of time reflecting the use of as well as the various layers of memory represented in memorials and monuments from historical, art historical, artistic, urban planning and political angles.

What constitutes a memorial and what defines memory? What is the relevance of memorials today? And how can memorials be revitalized and reinterpreted in a contemporary context? To discuss these topics, we have invited researchers, museum-directors and artists.

The symposium is part of a new danish focus on Germany within cultural exchange and is opened by the Danish Minister for Culture, Mette Bock.

Speakers among others: Dr. Uwe Koch, Head of office for the German National Comittee for the protection of monuments (DE), Carsten Porskrog Rasmussen, Director Schloss Sønderborg (DK), Katharina Hochmuth, Projectcoordinator „Aufarbeitung des Kommunismus“ at the Federal Foundation for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in East Germany (DE), Ulrikke Neergaard, Director KØS Museum of Art in Public Spaces (DK), Dr. Manfred Wichmann, Curator Collections at the Berlin Wall Foundation (DE), Markus Meckel, Foreign Minister a.D. & Chairman of the Board at the Federal Foundation for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in East Germany  (DE), Jens Haaning, Artist (DK).

The language of the symposium is English.

Registration and Programme

Please register via this link where you will also find the programme (regularly updated) for the symposium.

Participation in the symposium is free.

You can also find the full programme underneath!

For further questions:

Please contact:

Cultural Attaché Birgitte Tovborg Jensen, Royal Danish Embassy Berlin,

Senior Advisor Museums Krestina Skirl, Danish Arts Council,


The symposium is arranged in collaboration with  KØS – museum of art in public spaces and Bundesstiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED-Diktatur .



Memory and politics – new currents in memorials today


9.30 – 10.00:    Coffee and registration

10.00 – 10.30:  Welcome

10.00-10.15: Minister for Culture Mette Bock.

10.15- 10.30: Dr Uwe Koch, Head of office at the German National Committee for the protection of monuments at the Federal Commissioner of Culture and the Media.


10.30-12.00:    Memory and memorials:

10.30-10.55       Monuments as contested heritage

Monuments are symbolic in their nature, which can become problematic when fundamental political changes occur. This is highly visible in the Danish-German borderland. The integration of the whole duchy of Schleswig into Prussia 1864/67, the 1920-referendum resulting in an integration of the northern half into Denmark and the sentiments after 1945 all meant removals or destructions of monuments on one hand and strong efforts to represent new, ruling views on the other. The speaker will address all these themes as well as more recent discussions about what to do with monuments of former times. One monument, the Isted Lion, is a symbol of these discussions and will function as a prominent example.

Speaker: Director Carsten Porskrog Rasmussen, Sønderborg Castle.

10.55-11.20 Difficult legacies, different memories – Memorials after the regime change in Germany

The presentation reflects on the memory debates in Germany after the reunification in 1990. Based on the new standards of coming to terms with the Nazi past, the critical reappraisal (Aufarbeitung) of the communist dictatorship in East Germany became an important issue and a major challenge. Focusing on the debates about the memorials of Marx, Lenin, and Thälmann, the presentation discusses the practices to deal with the legacies of the communist regime in the public space and the difficulties to erect a new memorial for unity and freedom in Berlin and Leipzig.

Speaker: Project Coordinator Katharina Hochmuth, Federal Foundation for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in East Germany.

11.20-11.45 Soft Power: Contemporary artistic reinterpretations of the classical memorial

In recent years contemporary art has reclaimed and reinterpreted the artistic genre of the classical memorial in both critical and playful ways. Focusing on ground-breaking works of art from the last two decades the presentation will discuss how contemporary art today revitalizes and reconciliates representations of the national state, memory and public engagement.

Speaker: Director Ulrikke Neergaard, KØS Museum of Art in Public Spaces, Denmark.

11.45-12.00 Questions for the 3 presentations


12.00-13.00:    Lunch


13.00-14.45:    Significant issues within memorials today:

 13.00-13.30 Interpretations of the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall was never intended to be a memorial, but became one with the collapse of the communist regime. Since 1989 the views and interpretations of the Berlin Wall and the remains have differed and changed both in Berlin and internationally. The speaker will address how preserving the authentic remnants might have been done differently today.

Speaker: Curator of Collections Dr Manfred Wichmann, The Berlin Wall Foundation.

13.30-14.00 An interview about art in public spaces as political manifestations

On account of Sharing Heritage – European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, the Danish visual artist Jens Haaning has been invited to draw up an artistic contribution for Siegessäule. At the symposium, he will present his vision on this contribution, which is a “Proposal for Recontextualisation of Siegessäule”, and discuss how the rethinking of the context of a war monument at the same time can be a rethinking of the discursive context of our shared history. The specific proposal for Siegessäule, which has yet to be realised, is put into perspective by former artworks and projects from the international career of Jens Haaning. Artworks and projects which revolve around political and social mechanisms and stage strong symbols that respond to our national self-consciousness.

The presenter interviews the artist Jens Haaning.

14.00-14.30 Programming remembrance: Towards a national memorial at Utøya
In May this year, a team was selected to lead the design process for a national memorial to the 22 July 2011 terror attack, which will be localised near Utøya. The speaker will address some of the challenges for the first project and the selected proposal ‘Memory Wound’ by artist Jonas Dahlberg – a proposal that was not realised. Against that background, the speaker will reflect over the form of the call for the second project, for which a team rather than a memorial proposal has been selected, and discuss what such a setup could mean for a memorial design process.

Speaker: Mattias Ekman, University of Oslo and member of team to design 22 July memorial at Utøya.

14.30-14.45 Questions for the 3 presentations


14.45-15.05:    Coffee break


15.05 – 16.00: Panel debate


16.00               Goodbye

16.10               Reception hosted by the Danish Embassy


Presenter during the day: Clemens Bomsdorf, journalist and author