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Sophie von Hellermann, Schloss Freienwalde 

Remembering Walther Rathenau, 100 Years After His Assassination

In 1909 the Weimar statesman and aesthete Walther Rathenau acquired and restored the Prussian royal palace at Bad Freienwalde outside of Berlin. Rathenau’s assassination by far-right extremists in 1922 renders him a martyred icon of German democracy. At the time of his murder he had been Foreign Minister for only three months. Today, the Schloss at Freienwalde is a museum dedicated to the life of Rathenau. To mark 100 years since Rathenau's assassination, urKultur together with Oxford University’s Jewish Country Houses Project has commissioned a new site-specific artwork in the Schloss by the painter, Sophie von Hellermann. Using her characteristic loose and lively brush strokes, von Hellermann is painting both on canvases, as well as directly onto the walls bringing some of the lost spirit back to the Schloss. Contemporary photographs give a strong sense of the Schloss interior during Rathenau's lifetime. Starting from these images, von Hellermann’s work hints towards both the life once lived there and a possible future. This project is supported by TORCH and Oxford In Berlin

Client: Schloss Freienwalde / Jewish Country Houses

Role: Curator (Ruth Ur)

Date: July 2022 (Permanent installation)

Press: Neue Zürcher Zeitung


        Jewish Chronicle


Historic photographs: Courtesy of the Walther-Rathenau-Stift gGmbH Bad Freienwalde

Photographs: Courtesy the artist and Wentrup, Berlin. Photo: Matthias Kolb.

© Christian Jungeblodt & Jörg Gläscher

Ali Fitzgerald, Humboldthain

S-Bahnhof Humboldthain, Berlin

urKultur was commissioned to develop a concept for the upgrading of S-Bahnhof Humboldthain in the centre of Berlin. The overground station, built in 1935, is located beside the highly popular Volkspark Humboldthain. We asked Ali Fitzgerald to work with us on this unique commission. Ali has brought her hallmark wit and elegance to this commission, which celebrates the area known as Humboldthain as experienced through the four seasons. According to Ali, "I loved sprinkling the murals with little details—because they’re so accessible to people, I wanted subway riders to be able to spend some time looking at and enjoying them. I drew a lot of animal scenes at child height, so that kids could inspect and discover them. It’s so nice to hear a child shout, `Eichhörnchen!´ and get excited while looking at a painting. I also shifted things a bit as I went. So many older Wedding residents told me that they loved the murals, so I added extra scenes of elders enjoying activities like water aerobics or playing cards."

Client: DB Station&Service

Role: Curator (Ruth Ur & Julia Kaschlinski)

Date: 2022 (Permanent installation)

Press: Tagesspiegel

© Herzog & de Meuron
Rethinking the Library
National Library of Israel, Jerusalem

In 2023 the National Library of Israel will move into its state-of-the-art new premises in Jerusalem, designed by internationally renowned architects Herzog & de Meuron. The new building marks the end of a 130 year period in the Library's history and the start of a new period in which the Library promises to be much more than a library. New interactive and exhibition spaces are planned to engage not only scholars, but also a wider public including tourists and school children. urKultur has been commissioned to develop a campaign to involve audiences around the world in the relaunch. For this we're asking a special group of people to talk about their favourite books, to reveal how they organise their bookshelves and tell us about their favourite libraries.

Client: National Library of Israel

Role: Curator (Ruth Ur & Yigal Schleifer)

Date: Ongoing

© Jörg Gläscher
Sol Calero, Friedrichstraße, 2021
S-Bahnhof Friedrichstraße, Berlin

For the second edition of Exit Friedrichstraße, urKultur and DB Station&Service invited Berlin-based artist Sol Calero was invited to create a new commission for Exit Friedrichstraße. Sol's installation presents two views of the same scene: the view through a window looking out to the mountains and the sun; and a view from the outside of the house looking inwards. The view is inspired by the artist’s visits to Los Roques, an archipelago north of Caracas, Venezuela where Calero grew up. The archipelago bears the legacies of colonialism, and the picturesque houses – such as the one depicted here – present a combination of European, indigenous South American, and Afro-Caribbean influences. Calero uses the hybrid architecture and its luscious setting to create a vision of paradise in the middle of Berlin; a vision that in the context of Covid-related travel restrictions became even more tantalising and unreachable. At the same time, the fragmented image, with its vivid and alluring colours and hints of recognisable forms, is destined to remain a puzzle, challenging us to decipher what we see and desire. This edition of Exit Friedrichstraße was realised in cooperation with Villeroy & Boch and Weltkunst magazine.

Client: DB Station&Service AG

Role: Curator & Commissioner

Date: 2021 (Temporary installation, still on view)

Press: Monopol

Financial Times