ART is always inspired

The culture in a state of emergency : Art is struggling to survive - and we are hungry for inspiration

An exhibition - now that nobody can see it? Inspiration from another world that mirrors our own - now that we have completely different worries? A special edition for culture - now that it has to take a break. Yes, right now. Because Berlin needs culture like the air you breathe - as a supply of freshness for your own freedom.

And the city needs its artists, regardless of whether they play on a stage, sing on the street or paint on a canvas. They all now have a break in the pandemic and cannot show their art live and in person in front of an audience. They inspire us online - and they remind us how much that is missing: crying in the cinema, laughing in the theater, dancing in a concert, strolling through an exhibition. Travel in your head to another world to discover new sides of ourselves. Seeing yourself differently through others.

One who looks far beyond boundaries and limitations is the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The 92-year-old is considered a pioneer of contemporary art, which is transforming the world and herself with her pictures and performances. A large retrospective has now opened in Berlin's Gropius Bau, tracing Kusama's development from early paintings and sculptures to immersive spaces of experience.

In times of the pandemic, the entire work can initially only be experienced digitally. We exhibit special works by the humorous feminist, ingenious self-marketer and global artist on Tagesspiegel.de and tell stories from inside the world, from which art is made and is constantly being made anew.

Culture as a whole is a risk in which nothing is certain about tomorrow. And this great Kusama show also came about with a daredevil. In months of correspondence between her studio in Japan, European curators and the Berlin hosts, the exhibition was designed and the opening prepared, then everything was postponed, readjusted and converted because of the pandemic. After more than a crippling year, however, art is all about survival. And for all people new moments of hope. This can give art. It can do that to us, that it should show us today.

The mind needs fresh material to dream

Yes, health is the most important thing. And that's why our lives need a distance from one another. But the soul needs closeness, looks for new acquaintances. And the mind needs fresh material to think about, to dream, to reassure itself. That is why it is so important that art and culture survive even in the pandemic. That self-employed singers and painters can do without their artistic income. That the trades in cinemas and theaters can also get by without their stages.

[Keep track of the corona development in your Berlin neighborhood. In our Tagesspiegel district newsletters we report on the crisis and the effects on your neighborhood. Free and compact: people.tagesspiegel.de.]

Because all of these are people who make Berlin what it is - who are inspired by this city, fortunately never finished, built on sand and a pile of history, and from here they inspire the whole world. With the spirit that something new always arises from and on top of the old. If you allow it and have the courage to take risks.

Sure, the public is missing. Most of the summer festivals have already been canceled, and the Fete de la musique will once again only be streamed into spring and not performed on the street. The Berlinale, 14 months ago the last major event before the lockdown, is still worried and fighting for a few remaining performances in June in the open air.

Culture as a foil for a society in a state of emergency

But as long as not even students are taught outdoors, this longing will probably remain unfulfilled. Culture has to wait - and thus becomes a foil for a society in a persistent state of emergency. Just like the whole world waits and continues to turn (brutally pandemic). The freedom of art also stands for the fact that this life in abnormality does not gradually become normal. And it can point out ways to new, more sustainable normalities and an ever possible different life in this, our world.

What value do we attach to our life, how does it become worth living and how does it stay special? This question arises again with greater urgency for each and every one of us in the pandemic. Yayoi Kusama has found a universal answer to this simply difficult question: For her, every person is a point in the universe. That is why points run through her art, whether on her pictures, her clothes, in public spaces, everywhere.

Each point may be inconspicuous in the infinity that spans us, but each point has a value that makes everyone's life more worth living. Just as culture does with each and every one of its contributions. "I hope that the power of art can make the world a more peaceful place," is how Yayoi Kusama describes her life motto in her moving cinema biopic "Infinity". She vouches for it right into old age.

An exhibition that gives us inspiration from another world and gives us hope for our own worlds - yes, right now is the right time for it. Horizons are there to look over them from time to time. And discover new things behind it. For example something that you miss with pain and look forward to with all your heart: art and culture in the middle of Berlin.

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