Zipp – German-Czech Cultural Projects /


Life-worlds /

Utopia of Modernity: Zlín /

Kafka /

1968|1989 /

An Initiative of the
Kulturstiftung des Bundes

Zipp: this was the name given to German-Czech cultural projects based on the idea of a zip merge. Just as with a zipper – or a zip as it is also called in Czech – artists, cultural protagonists and academics were intermeshed. They linked up in a series of collaborative projects which were realized under the umbrella of Zipp between 2008 and 2010. Theatre, film and radio, architecture, fine arts and contemporary history – so diverse were the formats in which the participants articulated their concerns and ideas. The resulting works have one thing in common though: they all focus upon topical social issues.
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Under the heading “Life-Worlds” three Zipp projects reflected and contrasted the reality of both countries in varying artistic formats. For “rádio d-cz” for example, stations in Germany and the Czech Republic produced radio works by authors, radio dramatists, and composers, who captured individual and collective experien in the neighbouring country and transformed them experimentally into soundscapes. Featuring experts from Dresden and Prague, the theatre project “Vùng biên giới” was developed by Rimini Protocol (Helgard Haug / Daniel Wetzel), a collective acclaimed for its work with amateurs. Under the title “Breathless”, five documentary films looked into the upheavals in Germany and the Czech Republic over the past few decades.
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Utopia of Modernity: Zlín

The Moravian city of Zlín is a model city of Modernity. Built in the 1920s and 1930s, its planners drew their inspiration from Le Corbusier’s “functional city”, Howard’s garden city and Garnier’s “cité industrielle”. Its urban-utopian aspiration made it into a unique example of urban planning in the history of European industry – inseparably connected to the Zlín firm of Bat´a, one of the first shoe manufacturers to operate globally. The success story of the company’s founder Tomáš Bat’a and Zlín’s architectural history have both been exhaustively examined; what is missing is an extensive cultural analysis of Zlín as a “utopian project”, one which examines urbanity from the perspective of a comparative critique of ideology on the one hand, while also striving to (re-) vitalize the discussion of the relationship between Modernity and the city. A symposium held in Zlín and Prague from 19 – 23 May 2009 and an exhibition in the autumn of 2009 analyzed for the first time the interrelationships between economic and social, biographical and architectural factors in this utopian urban planning project. Both the symposium and exhibition thus also represented an important contribution to the current European discussion on urbanity.
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The Kafka conference held at Liblice Castle in 1963 is generally regarded as one of the intellectual precursors to the political upheaval and sense of new departure that gripped Czechoslovakia and culminated in the “Prague Spring” of 1968. To mark the 125th anniversary of Franz Kafka’s birth, the crucial years between these two dates were re-explored. At a conference in Liblice entitled “Kafka and Power. 1963-1968-2008” held in October 2008, the different perspectives of literary scholars, contemporary witnesses, historians, and philosophers on the events and their context were interrelated. In addition, for a period of 20 months Zipp supported work on the projected 30 volumes of the historical-critical edition of Kafka’s works (FKA) by the German scholars Roland Reuß and Peter Staengle. It is the goal of the FKA to facsimile Kafka’s complete works, making them accessible to the public in an authentic form.
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1968/1989 – these dates are not to be thought of as isolated events; rather, the mirroring game between the dates first becomes interesting when the interplay between the two is followed by a third element and 2008 is also considered. The anniversary years of 2008 and 2009 generated enormous interest in ‘68 and ‘89. At the same time, the comparison between East and West proved to be thoroughly irritating. As Rudi Dutschke found out in Prague: although the revolts took place simultaneously, they were based on fundamentally different ideological assumptions. What has become of them after the fall of the Iron Curtain, which dreams were realized and which betrayed, was explored collaboratively by historians, dramaturges and artists in the Zipp project “68/89 – Art.Contemporary.History”. The result was a diverse array of artistic and scholarly formats: five theme nights in Berlin, Hamburg, Prague, Žilina and Brno, six theatre productions, a conference and four journals. The latter have recently been released by Metropol Verlag in a single publication entitled “Transit 68/89”.
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Background texts

Reissverschluss am Trainingsanzug der Geschichte

Über zwei Jahre wird Zipp – deutsch-tschechische Kulturprojekte mit sieben gezielt initiierten Projekten den deutsch-tschechischen Kulturaustausch bereichern. Künstler, Kulturschaffende und Wissenschaftler aus beiden Ländern kooperieren in verschiedenen Konstellationen, um die Herausforderungen europäischer Gegenwart gemeinsam und kreativ zu verhandeln. In Ausstellungen, Theaterstücken, im Radio und auf Konferenzen. In welchem Kontext aber geschieht das? Wie komplex ist das deutsch-tschechische Verhältnis, wie mächtig die Vergangenheit, wo liegen die Grenzen gut gemeinter Diplomatie, welche Chancen bietet Zipp? Katrin Klingan, Leiterin von Zipp, Tomáš Kafka, Diplomat im tschechischen Außenministerium, und Tobias Weger vom Bundesinstitut für Kultur und Geschichte der Deutschen im östlichen Europa im Gespräch, Moderation: Christiane Kühl.


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