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The political changes in Europe after 1990 found their vivid and symbolic expression in the fall of the Berlin Wall and have turned Berlin into an especially attractive city. Visual artists are particularly attracted to the urban and architectural changes characterized by material and sculptural manifestations that emanate fascination. The rising number of applications in the visual arts section prompted a restructuring of the selection procedure in 1992. Since then, a more efficient nomination process has been applied by an international jury of experts. In the past years, this change has enabled the Berliner Künstlerprogramm to invite to Berlin aspiring and important artists whose works have reflected aspects of the current urban situation in diverse and original ways.

For example, the Canadian Stan Douglas found an ideal setting for his interpretation of E.T.A. Hoffmann's "sandman motif" in the garden colonies of Berlin's suburbia → fig. 1 . The British sculptress Rachel Whiteread encountered Berlin's Jewish history; her experiences resulted in a proposal for the construction of a monument for the city of Vienna recalling the persecution of Jews. The English sculptor Richard Wentworth discovered the city through multiple photographic "genre scenes", anonymous sculpted interferences in the cityscape which were later published in book form. Renée Green lectured at the "free class" at the Hochschule der Künste. For Damien Hirst, a most impressive installation evolved at the daadgalerie → fig. 2 . Matt Mullican's flag installation → fig. 3 located in Mies van der Rohe's building of the Neue Nationalgalerie dealt with reflections on art and the public, themes also reflected in the work of Douglas Gordon, Eija-Liisa Ahtila and Ann Veronica Janssens. It was in Berlin that Janet Cardiff conceived her now well-known Canadian contribution to the Venice Biennial of 2000, and it was from Berlin that Ilya Kabakov, an artist of Russian origin, embarked on what was to be an artistic triumph through museums world-wide . And, of course, one must cite Micha Ullman's monument in the center of the city on August-Bebel-Platz, which is a reminder to the burning of books on May 10th, 1933 → fig. 4+5 . Ullman's idea and the way he deals with the urban environment as well as with the posed topic and solution, single out this work as currently one of Europe's most exemplary monuments. As these significant examples demonstrate, Berlin's status as a location for new urban debate has been accepted by visual artists, and the impressive list of guests has itself developed into an indispensable cultural monument on the face of the city → fig. 5+6.

The original conception of the Berliner Künstlerprogramm – to provide a meeting point – has increasingly assumed a model function. Many artists live in Berlin immediately prior to international recognition. They absorb the phenomena of this city, influence local artists and, finally, in the numerous galleries of the city, find a "permanent representation" beyond the duration of their grant. As such, the work of many guests remains present in the cultural life of the capital city.

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