Strolling through the streets and galleries of Berlin: Field Trip of MLitt: Art: Politics: Transgression: 20th Century Avant-Gardes

Earlier this spring, students from our History of Art PGT programme ‘Art, Politics, Transgression’ took a study trip to Berlin. Students Jana Jankuliaková and Peter Tuka tell us about their trip.


Richard Pollock's 5050 Stacked Paintings

In February this year we APT-ers, as we are colloquially called, took a field trip to Berlin as a part of our course Dada in Switzerland and Germany in order to explore its cultural heritage sites and to broaden our knowledge of German avant-garde art. No less importantly, we had an opportunity to see artworks that we studied during our classes in person and to spend a great time together as a team!

Ai Weiwei
Berlin welcomed us with a cold, but sunny weather, which did not discourage us from strolling around the city with the aim of visiting its architectural sites, monuments, museums and galleries. As Berlin is literally imbued with them, we walked a good number of kilometres everyday. However, it was definitely worth it as during the strolls around the city we came across some contemporary art such as the controversial Ai Weiwei’s installation on Berlin’s Konzerthaus addressing the issues of migrant crisis, and we got lost among thousands of colourful canvases in Richard Jackson’s 5050 Stacked Paintings. We gave rest to our feet and stretched our brains instead in the Berlinische Galerie and Hamburger Bahnhof that have a rich collection of German avant-garde art, and thus we had a chance to put theory acquired in classes into practice by taking part in little interpretation activities.


The last day was an adventurous day, as we had an individual program and our only task was to visit an interesting and inspirational place or exhibition. Our small group of three spontaneously popped into the Berlin Museum of Medical History that nicely surprised us with the exhibition Mirror Images in Art and Medicine full of interactive, curious objects and installations that challenged our senses and perception of selves. Rather unexpectedly, we also found there our “old friend” Vito Acconci and his hypnotic but slightly weird video recording. Afterwards, we decided to take it easy, take a walk in a sunny park and see Helmut Newton’s fashion photographs. In the evening, we all reunited and finished our trip with a dinner, where we shared and discussed our experiences in a relaxed atmosphere.


To conclude, even though we did not mange to spot Peter Bürger, whose Theory of the Avant-Garde was one of our ultimate must-read coursebooks in his favourite café and despite the fact that the majority of us brought from Berlin an unwelcome souvenir – a flu virus, we all had an amazing time filled with art, adventure and fun! Thus, on behalf of the whole class, we would like to thank the university and Dr Debbie Lewer who kindly organised and accompanied us on the trip.

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