In the series "Open Archives" the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
invites artists to work with its collection. The series takes its starting points from the works and areas of the collection held in the archives of the museum usually closed to the public and from a discussion of the archive itself as a place of conservation and categorisation. "Open Archives" shows what has never been shown, what is rarely or not currently exhibited. From contemporary artistic and curatorial perspectives it activates the contents of the extensive collection and archives of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
The artists Anja Kirschner (b. 1977) and David Panos (b. 1971) from London are presenting their "Open Archives" selection in correspondence with their new film "The Empty Plan" which was produced with support from the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. The protagonist of the film premiered in Germany within this framework is the German author, dramatist and director Bertolt Brecht. With a focus on his Hollywood period (1941-47), the film explores Brecht's theoretical and practical theatre work and its changing historical conditions during the late years of the Weimar Republic and the period of exile in California, after his return to Germany and in the later German Democratic Republic. A collage of contrasting stage improvisations, imaginary dialogues in film studio settings and documentary reconstructions, "The Empty Plan" raises fundamental questions concerning ideological content in various forms of artistic presentation, as well as the relationship between art and politics aspects still relevant to current aesthetic-political debates.
In their selection of works primarily from the archives of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart's Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, Kirschner and Panos likewise explore the complex and ever-changing relationship between artistic forms and political movements in the critical period leading up to World War II. They base their deliberations on Brecht's criticism of the naturalistic and nationalist constructions of realism which gained popularity during the period in question and were also present in the exhibition programme of the Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs. In his theoretical and practical work alike, Brecht defined realism on the contrary as a critical attitude towards the prevailing circumstances with regard to possibilities for collective change. The choice of works from the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart was carried out in dialogue with the art historian Kerstin Stakemeier, one of whose research fields is Realism.