Sunday, November 25, 2018, 1 pm
Antisemitismus als Kontinuität kulturpessimistischer Weltbilder (Anti-Semitism as a Continuation of Culturally Pessimistic Worldviews)

Conference with Tahera Ameer, Fabian Bechtle, Julia Bernstein, Verena Dengler, Sophie Goltz, Anetta Kahane, Leon Kahane, Ismail Küpeli, Marko Martin, Patrice Poutrus

Cultural pessimism is a gloomy and destructive view of how the world is evolving. In particular, its exponents misconstrue the progressive achievements of liberal societies as stepping stones to-ward an impending catastrophic civilizational decline. In response to today’s social and political changes, cultural pessimists invoke the primacy of what they believe to be a people’s “distinctive” and “authentic” nature, even its “ethnic-national essence.” Racist ideas have long been a staple of the worldviews of cultural pessimists, as have diverse variants of anti-Semitism, which is presented as the antithesis of universalism. Antimodern attitudes as well as forms of anti-imperialism and anti-Zionism likewise reflect the fantastical conspiracy theories and delusions of ethnic purity that cultural pessimists espouse.

Organized by the Forum Democratic Culture and Contemporary Art and hosted by the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.), this conference seeks to shed light on the anti-Semitic implica-tions of cultural pessimism as well as the intersectional discrimination that is part and parcel of its political program.

Julia Bernstein’s contribution places visual representations that took hold over centuries despite and because of their anti-Semitic iconography in their historical, political, and cultural contexts. One particular focus of her research is on how Jews perceived and responded to such images—a perspective the scholarship has largely neglected. Tahera Ameer speaks about her work for “Aktion Schutzschild,” a project that strengthens migrants’ and refugees’ efforts to organize them-selves, especially in economically underdeveloped areas, and pushes to make their voices heard in society. Ameer’s talk will examine the sometimes ambivalent and affirmative responses to anti-Semitism among the people she works with.

Verena Dengler’s art turns the spotlight on the protagonists of the New Right and the Identitarian Movement in Austria, whose rejection of modern society is fueled by culturally pessimistic fantasies of apocalypse. Both movements’ followers take refuge in romanticized narratives of the ethnic-national community’s heroism and tragic grandeur. The anti-Semitic trope of German Romanticism is reflected in a marked enemy stereotype: “the Jew” is alien to an allegedly “healthy” and “organic” society. Ismail Küpeli discusses contemporary Turkish nationalism, whose vision of a national “high culture” takes crucial inspiration from German Romanticism.

Patrice Poutrus examines the history of efforts in Germany to deflect guilt and invert the positions of perpetrator and victim. These specific phenomena, he argues, are products not of a German history characterized by profound disruptions but in fact constitute a distinctive form of continuity. Today’s political tendencies, he concludes, cannot be reduced to the challenges of the post-reunification period but are manifestations of a longstanding tradition of self-victimization.

Free admission, no registration required
In German

Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, n.b.k.
Chausseestraße 128/129
10115 Berlin


Sunday, November 25, 2018, 1–7pm

Marius Babias
, director, n.b.k.
Fabian Bechtle and Leon Kahane, Forum Democratic Culture and Contemporary Art

1:15 –1:45pm
The Different Facets of Anti-Semitism and Their Significance for Collective Identity Formation
Prof. Dr. Julia Bernstein, sociologist and artist, Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences

Anti-Semitism as an Integrating Factor
Tahera Ameer, project director, “Aktion Schutzschild,” Amadeu Antonio Foundation, Berlin

New Right Iconographies and Identitarian Strategies of Appropriation in Austria
Verena Dengler
, artist, Vienna

moderated by Marko Martin, writer and journalist, Berlin


Yet Again No Zero Hour—Reflections on Historical Continuities in East German Society
Dr. Patrice Poutrus, contemporary historian and scholar of migration, Berlin

German Romanticism and Ideology in Turkish Nationalism
Ismail Küpeli, political scientist and historian, Bochum

moderated by
Sophie Goltz, curator, Berlin / Singapore

Concluding remarks
Anetta Kahane
, writer, chairwoman of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, Berlin

Participants of the conference “Antisemitismus als Kontinuität kulturpessimistischer Weltbilder (Anti-Semitism as a Continuation of Culturally Pessimistic Worldviews):”

Tahera Ameer
studied literary criticism, philosophy, and Spanish language and literature in Tübingen, Barcelona, and Berlin. She has worked on contemporary and historical anti-Semitism and racism since 2004. After a series of stints at various organizations, she joined the Amadeu Antonio Foundation in 2016 to direct “Aktion Schutzschild,” a project that helps refugees in economically underdeveloped areas organize themselves and educates local governments and service providers on the perspectives of so-called minorities.

Fabian Bechtle is an artist. After studying in Leipzig and Lyon, he taught in the installation and spatial art division at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig from 2014 until 2018. Selected exhibitions: Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade (2012); Galerie Alexander Levy, Berlin (2013); Fabbrica del Vapore, Milan (2014); Trehgornaya Manufaktura, Moscow (2015); Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2016); and Hartware Medienkunstverein, Dortmund (2018). Bechtle currently works for the Forum Democratic Culture and Contemporary Art.

Verena Dengler is an artist. She studied in Vienna and London and taught at the Haute école d’art et de design, Geneva (2015–2017); in 2018, she received the STRABAG Artaward International. Selected solo exhibitions: Kunsthalle Bern (2017); Thomas Duncan Gallery, Los Angeles (2016); and Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna (2013). Dengler is a member of the Hysteria Fraternity, Vienna, and writes for Texte zur Kunst, frieze, Monopol, Jungle World, and other periodicals. She created the scenography for Christina Tscharyiski’s Revolt. She said. Revolt again. / Mar-a-Lago., a production that is currently playing at the Berliner Ensemble.

Prof. Dr. Julia Bernstein is professor of discrimination and inclusion studies at the Frankfurt University of Applied Science. A sociologist and artist by training, she uses biographical research to investigate forms of discrimination and the experience of inequality. She and a team led by the Bielefeld-based conflict researcher Andreas Zick recently completed a study of experiences of anti-Semitism among Jews living in Germany.

Sophie Goltz is an associate curator at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein. In 2017, she was appointed deputy director for research and academic programmes at Nanyang Technological University Singapore’s Centre for Contemporary Art; she teaches in the master’s program in museum studies and curatorial practices at the university’s School of Art, Design and Media. Goltz was artistic director of Stadtkuratorin Hamburg (2013–2016), an initiative of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, and has edited numerous publications, including, most recently, Passagen. Kunst im öffentlichen Raum Hamburg 1981–2016 (to be released by Spector Books in 2019).

Anetta Kahane is a journalist, writer, and campaigner against right-wing extremism, racism, and anti-Semitism. She was the East Berlin city government’s first commissioner on foreigners’ affairs in 1990; after the reunification of Germany, she helped establish the city’s Regional Center for Issues Concerning Foreigners and advocated intercultural education in schools in the former East Germany. She cofounded the Amadeu Antonio Foundation in 1998 and has been its chairwoman since 2003.

Leon Kahane is an artist. He studied in Berlin, Hong Kong, and Tel Aviv. Selected exhibitions: Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2011); Moscow Biennale (2015); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2015; 2017); Gesellschaft für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig (2016); Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (2017); and Belvedere, Vienna (2018). Kahane currently works for the Forum Democratic Culture and Contemporary Art.

Ismail Küpeli is a political scientist and historian. He analyzes conflicts in Turkey, the Middle East, and South Asia. He writes for daily and weekly newspapers (Neues Deutschland, Jungle World) and journals (analyse & kritik), gives interviews (ZDF, WDR, arte, RTL, Deutschlandfunk, etc.), lectures, and chairs panel discussions. He is a doctoral candidate at the Institute for Diaspora Research and Genocide Studies at Ruhr-Universität Bochum and currently writing his dissertation on the Kurdish uprisings in 1920s and 1930s Turkey.

Marko Martin is a writer and journalist. Barred from university studies in East Germany for political reasons, he left for West Germany in May 1989 and studied German language and literature, political science, and history at Freie Universität Berlin. Martin’s essays, reporting, and reviews have been published by Die Welt, NZZ, and Internationale Politik. His most recent books are Nelson Mandela (Reclam, 2018) and Das Haus in Habana (Wehrhahn, 2018). He also writes the monthly column on the road for the Center for Liberal Modernity.

Dr. Patrice Poutrus is a contemporary historian and scholar of migration. He is currently visiting professor of the cultural and social anthropology of late modern societies at Viadrina European University. He completed a doctorate at Viadrina European University in 2001 and then conducted research at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C.; the Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam; the Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, Vienna; the Institute of Contemporary History of the University of Vienna; and other institutions. He is a member of the DFG research network “Foundations of Refugee Research” and currently working on a monographic study of the history of political asylum in postwar Germany.

The conference is part of the discourse program on the occasion of the exhibition A 37 90 89 – The Invention of the Neo-Avant-Garde