INTERMUSEUM’13 – “Museum version of History” podium discussion June,3.

Dieter Bogner’s speech:

I am here to present a project, which is very important not only for Belarus but also for all other countries of Europe. This project is just starting and I am working with a group of experts from Belarus, Russia, and other countries aiming to develop a huge-huge area.

First, to present myself, I will only show some images of what I am doing. I’m developing museological concepts and especially master plans for huge areas, like Museumsquartier in Vienna, a very successful cultural area of sixty five thousand square meters, or the master plan for the museum of landscape in Kassel in Germany which ranks as Germany’s fourth largest museum site with outstanding collections. The Kasern district of Saltsburg city is ongoing project, which should be finished, by the next year. I’m on the board of the new museum which is a contemporary art museum in New York. This is the museum where I get many approaches to contemporary art. And this approach to contemporary art is very important to reflect history. Other project, which we did in Graz “The Blue Bubble” project or a Natural History Museum in Graz was just finished.

Now, Brest Fortress 2019 means one thousand years of the Brest city’s existence. On the very border of Belarus and Poland is an area of about four hundred hectares of a fortress build in the XIX century which is characterized by a long-long history. You’ll find there archeological findings from very early period of the city, i.e. from the XIV century with incredible visualization of the buildings of the XIV century. There you have the city of the medieval time, which in the XIX century was completely erased, completely destroyed in order to build the fortress. This is the fortress from the period before World War II. These four hundred hectares, which are still active in the fortress, were heavily damaged and destroyed in World War II. This was the beginning of German invasion of the Soviet Union, namely of Brest and this is the symbol of it, the heroic monument in the center of this huge fortress. So, it’s a long history…

This point on the border of Poland and Belarus has been a very significant historical point for many centuries. In this huge area of four hundred hectares you have the history of this place through thousands of years. There are archeological findings from the XIV century, i.e. wooden houses in incredibly good condition excavated years ago. You see the baroque image of the city of Brest, which in the XIX century has been completely erased; all buildings have been destroyed in order to build a huge-huge fortress, what is shown here in the image from the period before World War II. In 1941 the Germans entered the Soviet territory in Brest. It was one of these heroic fights against German army that took place in this fortress, which has been heavily destroyed and damaged. The monument in the centre of this fortress has been built by the Soviets to commemorate this resistance against the German army. It is a huge symbolic monument from the 70’s.

An ongoing process is a very wide reflection and research. It is an urban research, historical research and the question is how to deal with this area in the future. You see the red circle is between the city of Brest and the fortress, i.e. huge vast area that is not developed. There is a master plan already, which aims to connect the city with the fortress. Another team is researching on the fortress history, on all the buildings and there are hundreds of buildings in this area of about fifty thousand square meters. This team, like we all here, is researching building by building to get basic information on what is the history of a building, what are the surfaces, what can we do. You see some images of these fortifications. There are about four hundred hectares and only about 40 % has been developed. So 60 % of this area is not used. People can go there but partly it is quite dangerous because these are ruins. The process is ongoing. We, i.e. the expert team, we are organizing seminars, meetings and workshops. The idea is to create wide field of information from the basis, i.e. from residents, from students, from experts. This will be the process, which will take several months. One month ago one of the seminars took place with participation of municipal people representatives, residents, architects, but also students of architecture department, who are working there. I must say, that these students were the best historians, e.g. they went to the streets of Brest interviewing people, asking them: “what’s your idea about the Brest fortress?”, “how do you want to live with this?”, “what’s your idea about the history of it?” It is valuable information, which is one of our basis. Then the students of architecture department, but also young architects developed ideas on how to use this fortification site. This is shown in the images from the presentation. No history – it is present life. They want the space for the purpose of creating cultural industry, leisure, and for their own life. They didn’t talk about history. They used all beautiful halls, which have not been restored. It was terribly cold, they were working for week. This was a situation, which from the historian’s side was the most creative and most unconventional, but the results are quite usable. On the extreme end of the possibilities you see a model of the XIV century fortress of Brest. And according to the field interviews a lot of people said “let’s reconstruct old Brest”. There is the idea that something was lost and will to get this loss off the ground. Some people ask for archeologists, but on the side of the memorial, nobody is allowed to do some diggings. Another idea is to reconstruct it. So, on one hand we have very young initiatives of the students and on the other hand ideas of more traditional nature, e.g. “ let’s go back to the past”, “let’s have old Brest reconstructed”. There is a wide field of interpretation. This last image shows you that we have a multilayered question on a four hundred hectare large area. How to deal with it? There are two ways; one way is to put the discourse with very different groups into the centre of the development process. Around the discourse, there is a need of reflection, conception, research, conception and construction to be done together with different groups. Moreover, the output will be not only exhibition, but also the whole area for living, for commemorating, for leisure, for many other things, but organized in the different areas. At the moment the process shows that if anybody talks it results in chaos; we have hundreds of ideas on the project. Everybody wants to sit in a different area. Therefore, the next step will be to organize these ideas and possibilities together with the scientific research into a structure, which allows future visitors to experience this wide field of possibilities. It is not only the content, but also the infrastructure that you have to create. So this is not the museum which exists, it is the area with the museological approach together with the approach of the urban living areas that need infrastructure organization which all has to be build up. One of the possibilities at the new museum is a small museum with forty people who organize urban ideas. For example a festival of Bauri, which was organized by the museum, however there was hundreds of groups, young and old ones, showing the ideas of urbanism. It was quite democratic selection among hundreds of ideas made by jury panel.

The last point we are now at is a sketch where we try to put all the ideas to order. It will take another eight months till we come up with the first result and, perhaps, next year at the Interforum the expert group will show you the results. Thank you very much. “Image

                                                     

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