MARSTALL
GOETHE- UND SCHILLER-ARCHIV
ALTENBURG

HUBRIS AND HIGH CULTURE

 

2020 is set to be a significant year for Germany, with jubilees and anniversaries that could hardly be more contrasting. The “Year of Music 2020” is celebrating Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Liszt and numerous other composers whose great works could not have been created without the acclaim and support that they enjoyed in Germany.

Also taking place are commemorations of seventy-five years since “Hour Zero” – the absolute defeat that marked the end of the Third Reich. Little else has united the great and the terrible as profoundly and intimately as the twin facets of German history and culture – it is the very embodiment of Germany.

This Faustian ambiguity is sometimes separated by just a few short steps – a fact that is ever-present and tangible in the culturally striking city of Weimar. From the lowest and most sombre point of this year’s festival route, the former ducal stables (Marstall) and its Gestapo cellars, the path heads uphill to the Goethe and Schiller Archives, home to the eternal works of the golden age of Weimar Classicism, and continues to Altenburg, the residence and place of work of the composer Franz Liszt and a true place of pilgrimage for Weimar’s “Silver Age” of creativity, both musical and otherwise.

In 1920, exactly 100 years ago, Thuringia was founded in the wake of a revolution. The federal state’s first capital city was Weimar and the first parliament of Thuringia met in Weimar’s Fürstenhaus – the princely house. Caught up in the optimism of new beginnings, the fledgling Bauhaus made this cultural city their home, while over at the German National Theater, the National Socialists were already convening and ramping up their attacks on the hated modern age.

In a position of government from 1930 onwards, the National Socialists immediately set about creating a regime of injustice and “unculture”. In time, the Gauleiter of Thuringia, Fritz Sauckel, would turn Goethe’s beloved Ettersberg hill into the Buchenwald concentration camp. There, the solitary tree at the centre of the infamous Appellplatz roll call ground was known as the “Goethe Oak” – another contrast that could not be starker.

For a short time in 2020, Thuringia was once again in the spotlight of a somewhat startled international press when a right-wing party helped unseat the state premier. While these troubled waters now appear to have calmed – this time hopefully for good – we will allow the silent witnesses, the old walls, to speak and bring to mind the great and terrible times of the past.

For this year’s edition of the festival, we are expressly encouraging makers of short films, motion graphic artists and video and film artists of all backgrounds and genres to apply for the selected locations through the medium of their disparate visual aesthetics, animation techniques and narrative concepts.