Lars Ramberg shows the first sketch
of one of his future projects; a huge
monument for Doubt in the City of Berlin. Questioning whether it is possible
to change or replace the history manually from one day to the other.
Germany has a history of ideological
and cultural revolutions. The doubt has
never served the cause of the accused, and the yearning for new truths has
expelled both a democratic, pluralistic balance as well as historical
One of the central topics in the political
debate in Germany since the fall
of the Berlin wall has been about the value of communist icons, buildings,
and public spaces. The discussions have been rather emotional, heated up, and
much dominated by one-sided rhetoric. Symbols from former DDR has been marked
and most parts of the modernist architecture that was built between 1961 and
1989 has already been torn down.
The debate regarding the future of Palast
der Republik is perhaps one of the
best examples of the political dilemma. The building was erected on the very
spot where Kaiser Friedriech's Stadtpalatz stood. His palace was severely
damaged by the bombs of the allied during World War II. DDR decided to
demolish the remains and build their own palace - Palast der Republik. The
new building was multi-functional. It did not only house politicians, but
also served almost as a community building where public rituals and social
events such as balls, weddings, and concerts, were important symbols for a
modern communist society.
Since 1989 the newly renovated Reichstag
has once more become the central
arena of political power in Germany, and Palast der Republic has been
abandoned. The building holds asbest and has been closed off hermetically for
everybody except masked engineers. The building is contaminated and poisonous
and has been labelled dangerous both physically and politically.
A huge public opinion with roots into
the Reichstag, wants to demolish Palast
der Republik and restore Kaiser Friedriech's town palace at the Museum Insel.
The argument is to recapture German history, but the discussion arouses doubt
because history is defined as everything prior to World War II and east
The project that Ramberg propose is
to define Palast der Republik as a mon
ument and a museum for that very doubt. At Sparwasser HQ the first draught of
Rambergs art piece will be presented.
Lars Ø. Ramberg
born 14. 01. 1964 in Oslo, Norway
1988 - 92 The National Academy of Fine Art - Statens Kunstakademi SKA
1987 - 88 Oslo Tegne & Maleskole, Preparatory Art school
1985 - 86 Sagene Teachers School, Aesthetics Department
1983 - 85 Oslo University of Engineering, OIH
2002 TV Dinner, Performance in Fernsehturm Berlin, with Camilla Eeg
2002 Solo Show, Rogaland Art Museum, Stavanger Norway
2001 OFFENBAR, Performance Project Oslo Kunsthall, with Goethe institute and
Norwegian Art Council, Produced by C.Eeg and Jon Tombre.
2001 9 1/2 Castles, Eslöv, Sweden
2001 a Scandinavian Sonnenwende Extravaganza, Cafe Bürger, Berlin Germany
2001 Tierleben /Menschleben, Site specific art project Brandenburg, Germany
2001 Gallery Sparwasser, Berlin
2000 Kunstbrief 2000,Galerie am Parkhaus, Berlin Germany
2000 BERLIN OSTBAHNHOF; Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin Germany
2000 Glück & Casino, Kunsthalle Dresden, Dresden Germany
1999 Glück und Casino, Galerie Kunstamt Treptow, Berlin Germany
1999 Nordishe Klang, Sloß Griebenow, Greifswald Germany
1999 I-D, Norwegian National Exhibitions Tour ; Hoeggen primary school,
Nardo primary school ,Lilleby high school , Utleira primary school, Trondheim, Norway
1998 Concepts for Sami Parliament, Samisk kunstnersenter, Karasjok Norway
1998 Momentum, Moss Norway
1998 i- D, Norwegian National Exhibitions Tour; Oslo Norway
UKS biannual: Henie-Onstad Artcenter Oslo, Rogaland Art museum, Trondheim Art museum, Tromsø Art Forum.
1998 Millennium, performance, Åpne Teater , Oslo (arranged by Norwegian Art Council)
1997 Norske Profiler Kunsthalle Rostock, Rostock
1997 Oslo Band Stand, Rockstage John Dee, arranged by Gallery Struts, Oslo Norway
1997 Norske Profiler Museum Folkwang, Essen Germany
1997 Ich und Du / Performance festival Galleri G.U.N, Oslo Norway
1996 Borealis 8 -"The Scream" / Arken, Mus.of modern art, Copenhagen curated by Kim Levine
1996 Memorex / Quartair Gallery, Den Haag Netherlands
1996 Kjølen / Folkets Park, Stockholm Sweden
1996 " i " BANE / Henie Onstad Art Center, Oslo Norway
1995 Spekulativ / Galleri G.U.N. Oslo Norway
1995 Høstutstillingen / Statens kunstutstilling, Oslo Norway
1995 Experimental environment / Kuopio Finland
1994-1995 Konsten och Verkligheten / Swedish National Exhibition- Tour;
Folkets hus Norra Latin, Stockholm Folkets Hus Sundsvall- Folkets Hus Piteå- Folkets Hus Iggesung, Sweden
1994 Take Away / Gallery F-15 , Jeløy Moss Norway
1993 Light Buoys / Gallery F-15, Jeløy Moss Norway
1992 Etant Donné / Oslo Kunstforening & UKS, Oslo Norway
1991 The Last Border / Gallery Enkehuset, Stockholm, Sweden /
Gallery Pellin Helsinki, Finland, /Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo
1991 Picture of Orality/ Gallery Mevlana Oslo Norway
1990 The True Picture/ Statens kunstakademi, Oslo Norway
1989 Overganger / Oslo Kunstforening Oslo Norway
1999 Changing the System, artists & curators talks, gallery Witte de Witt, Rotterdam
1999 Ängel, Project Manager of Site specific project with students from Malm Academy of fine Art. The Swedish Church, St.Johannes church Malmø, Maria Church Båstad.
1998 Out of Site, Symposium, Malm, Sweden
VISIT Art in public spaces. Project Manager of multimedia project for
Malmö Art Academy, Sweden
1998 Daddy always wanted me to grow a pair of wings, scenography to Francesco Scavettas choreography Black Box Theater, Oslo, Olavshallen Trondheim, Norway
1997 Anlagd, project manager on multimedia project for Malm academy of Fine Art, located in Pildammsparken, Malm, Sweden.
1997 Scenography to dance performance Øyne by Lise Eger, Black Box Theater , Oslo
1994 Darshan / Grave monument for Yngve Aanerud , Vestre Gravlund , Oslo
1994 Scenography to theater play HUN. Based on poems of Erling Kittelsen. Director Michaela Granit, Producer ; Theater Joker, Black Box, Oslo
1994 Spillet om Ildfisken / Collaboration with Per Maning, Hillmar Fredriksen, Erling Kittelsen, Kristin Lotherington andThorvald Steen Gallery F-15 Moss
1993 Concept and scenography for outdoor performance BC 49981 -Blueline ,
director; Anna Lisa DalPra ITALY,Torshovparken Oslo.
1989 Scenography to dance performance Men jorden drømmer. Choreography by Lise Eger , music by Nils Peter Molvær, Black Box Theater, Oslo.
2001 Billedkunstnernes Vederlagsfond, Norway
2000 Billedkunstnernes Vederlagsfond, Norway
1998 Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Studio program, Berlin Germany
1997 National 3-years grant for visual artists, Norway
1996 Billedkunstnernes Vederlagsfond, Norway
1995 Statens Lånekassen Etterutdanningsstipend
1995 Billedkunstnernes Vederlagsfond, Norway
1994 Billedkunstnernes Vederlagsfond, Norway
1994 Tycho Jægers Legat, Norway
1993 Billedkunstnernes Vederlagsfond, Norway
2001 Nordic Artists Writings, NIFCA. Editor Simon Sheik, Copenhagen Denmark
2001 BMA : Kunst aus Berlin, Art Magazine, Germany
2001 BE -Magazine, Published by Künstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin, Germany
2001 Fasserstoff, Beispiel für neuen Denkmal, Berlin Germany
2000 iHOP, Lunds Kunsthall
2000 Verden idag, en bruksanvisning, Gyldendal Forlag, Oslo Norway
2000 Vagant, Art and Literature magazine; front cover and inserts, Norway
Glück &Casino, catalogue for Kunsthaus Dresden
2000 Billedkunst, Norwegian Art review
2000 På Grensen, Lunds Konsthall, Sweden
1999 Changing the System, Witte de Witt, Rotterdam / Nifca, Helsinki Finland
/Rijksakademi Amsterdam Netherlands. Editor Åsa Nacking
1998 SIKSI Nordic art review
1998 UKS biannual, UKS forum Text by Per Boym, dir. of Contemporary Art Museum Oslo
1997 Norske Profiler, Essen / Rostock Germany
1996 The Scream, catalogue for Arken Art museum, Copenhagen Denmark
1995 Billedkuntneren, front cover
1995 Taide, Finnish art magazine, front cover and inserts, Finland
1994 SIKSI, Nordic art review; front cover and article
Member of Unge Kunstneres Samfund (UKS)
©Gertrud Sandqvist on Lars Ramberg
Be Magazin 2001, Berlin 2001
Names give a place its identity. Memories and expectations are connected to the identity. A name allows us to recognize something. For this reason, namings and renamings are ideologically charged-so strongly, in fact, that regime after regime sets out to change the names of central locations upon seizing power. Here, it is not a matter of cosmetic, but rather of real changes-through the change of the name, one history can be extinguished and replaced by another.
New settlers and imperialists know this. One need only read the names on a map, from the Roman Empire to the Wild West! The name is the foundation of language, and the language that is being spoken is not the mother tongue, but the language of the victors.
The Norwegian artist Lars Ramberg took a neon sign he accidentally happened upon, "BERLIN OSTBAHNHOF", as a point of departure for tracing Berlin's history. (1) When the name was last changed in 1998 from "Haupt-" to "Ostbahnhof", only the letters "HAUP" had been replaced with "OS". The subtle changes in regards to the chromatic warmth and luminosity of the neon gas with which the two new letters stood out from the rest became a sign for Ramberg-not for the new order, but rather for the way in which the changeover in power had been carried out. When the neon sign was dismantled from the train station, he was able to purchase it for a symbolic price, and he dreamed up a nomadic life for it: a homeless name, wandering back and forth between the railroad junction points of Europe as a stowaway on a normal passenger train.
The German railroad network was responsible for a smooth transportation throughout the 20th century, both of camp prisoners as well as of travelers on the Interrail. To send one of the most heavily charged station names on a trip throughout Europe attributes a new identity both to Germany as one of the countries in Europe with the strongest multicultural character and to Berlin as the city with the largest Turkish colony in Europe. In the meantime, Berlin stands out less as a central power than it does in regards to migration. And trains are the means of transportation used by the new great migrations.
The renaming of "Hauptbahnhof" into "Ostbahnhof" stands, of course, for the fall of the Wall, not only in Germany, but of the wall in the rest Europe, as well. If the twenty or twenty-five years after 1989 have also been characterized by a laborious process of reunification accompanied by considerable economic and cultural difficulties, then the next step for Europe has to be to comprehend its radically changed role in the world community. It's time now to repair the colonialism of the 19th and 20th centuries, a far worse catastrophe than the conflicts between European states.
Euro-centricity, the national state, the patriarchy-the founding pillars of bourgeois culture are eroding away. Yet an indignation in the face of the Other, the foreign, hasn't diminished-in the worst of cases, it's recast into new positive concepts. One of these is called "regionalism".
Lars Ramberg's artistic strategy defines itself against this background through referring to basically insignificant, apparently straightforward situations and then revealing their true potential as meaning-laden, symbolically charged contexts of objects and actions.
Thus, in several projects in the mid-nineties, he enacted interventions within communication and information contexts. One of these picked up on the typical Swedish custom of meeting together for a cup of coffee at every workplace and every clubhouse room to exchange information on various levels. In Peoples Palaces all over Sweden, he replaced the usual standard coffee cups with personally accumulated Norwegian collector cups, thereby rerouting the discussions during the coffee breaks onto unforeseen paths. With another project, which was shown in 1998 in Høvikodden outside Oslo, he turned himself into an information object. He had a well-known advertising agency, which was also responsible for the museum's press campaigns, work up a "profile" of the artist Lars Ramberg and then exhibited the result in the directorial room of the museum. For someone with some understanding of contemporary art, it was strange to take note of the result in its combination between uncomprehension and business acumen. If Lars Ramberg had followed the well-meaning advice of the advertising strategists as an artist, his artistic career would have soon been over.
The greatest misunderstanding during the agency's compilation of the profile involved the concept "communication". Whereas the artist equates communication with dialogue, including all its open ends and questions, the agency thought of information or manipulation. When one speaks in advertising of "communicating" something, one really means a one-way street along which the receiver forms a connecting link between the message and its consumption. Occasionally, this distortion of the concept of communication finds its way into politics, as well, not to mention all the PR people of our modern society. Another area in which language is used on the one hand as "communication", but on the other to conceal an existing state of affairs, too, is in political rhetoric. Germany has a long tradition in this area. The demand of totalitarian regimes for "Newspeak" is sufficiently known. The current political formation of will which finds its expression in various kinds of catchwords is more open and innocuous, yet the type of manipulation of the public through positively charged or neutral words standing for a less than tranquil reality is the same. In this respect, the work Berlin Ostbahnhof is a good example for Lars Ramberg's artistic method. The points of departure are the purely visual fascination for the aged neon sign and the observation of the variation in color temperature between "OS" and the original letters. Lars Ramberg adds other associations to this observation-following a concept of Gille Deleuze on the usage of art as an "aggregate" which creates a new quality of meaning and understanding. Through Ramberg's way of forming this aggregate, a certain connection between thoughts and ideas is provoked in the viewer, one which is just as winding as the railway network laid out over Europe and with just as many nomadic junction points as the odyssey of the homeless neon sign. The viewer is called upon to take part in a playful dance of associations. In this respect, it is the viewer who completes the work.
(1) The resulting project 'Berlin Ostbahnhof' was exhibited in Studio I of Künstlerhaus Bethanien March, 2000
Gertrud Sandqvist is a critic, principal of Malmö art academy, Sweden and founder of the Scandinavian Art magazine SIKSI ( later NU).
The text is published in the B-magazine, Berlin june 2001.