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I’ve Seen the Wall – Louis Armstrong on Tour in the GDR 1965 – DAS MINSK Kunsthaus in Potsdam| 16.09.2023-04.02.2024 

Editors’ Choice

DAS MINSK Kunsthaus in Potsdam will present the exhibition I’ve Seen the Wall in the fall of 2023, focusing on the legendary concert tour that led Louis Armstrong through the GDR in 1965.

Fig. above: Jazzmusiker Louis Armstrong während seines Konzertauftritts im März 1965, Messehalle Leipzig. Foto: Evelyn Richter © SLUB , Deutsche Fotothek , Richter, Evelyn; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023

In the midst of the Cold War, the African American jazz musician performed in East Berlin, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Erfurt, and Schwerin. The tour was very tightly scheduled with 17 concerts in just nine days. The halls, with a capacity of no less than 2,000 to 3,000 seats, were quickly sold out—around 45,000 people experienced Louis Armstrong and his All Stars live in the GDR. 

The exhibition at DAS MINSK takes this historic event as its starting point for an examination of the ambivalence of this official invitation against the backdrop of the civil rights movement in the United States and the Iron Curtain in Europe. One of the central questions in the exhibition is: What does it mean to tour the world, to visit oppressive systems and dictatorships in the name of freedom? What does it mean to repeatedly experience recognition and racism at the same time on the road and to return home to be confronted with racism all over again?

DEEDS NEWS - Romare Bearden, Ellington und Armstrong, ca. 1975. Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, New York © Romare Bearden Foundation
Romare Bearden, Ellington und Armstrong, ca. 1975. Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, New York © Romare Bearden Foundation , VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023 

Armstrong’s performance in the GDR is a sign of freedom, even if only for the duration of the show. It is a sobering observation that has been true for centuries in regard to Black music. Experiencing the love and amazement of the public on the stage contradicts the difficulties that the musicians were, and continue to be, confronted with backstage. Can love and hate, worldwide success and oppression, recognition and racism coexist?

The exhibition I’ve Seen the Wall brings together paintings, photographs, archival material, and installations by Terry Adkins, Louis Armstrong, Pina Bausch, Romare Bearden, Peter Brötzmann, Volkhard Kühl, Norman Lewis, Glenn Ligon, Gordon Parks, Adrian Piper, Evelyn Richter, Lorna Simpson, Willi Sitte, Wadada Leo Smith, Rosemarie Trockel, Andy Warhol, Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt and others. Filmmaker Darol Olu Kae (b. 1984 in Los Angeles) is producing a new film work commissioned by DAS MINSK for the exhibition.

In the fourth installment of the INTERPLAY series, an original trumpet by Louis Armstrong from the holdings of the Louis Armstrong House Museum is juxtaposed with a work by Andy Warhol from the Hasso Plattner Collection.

The exhibition is curated by Paola Malavassi and Jason Moran.

The exhibition is created in close collaboration with the Louis Armstrong House Museum (LAHM) in Corona, Queens, New York. Thanks to the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation. The exhibition is co-curated by jazz pianist, composer, and visual artist Jason Moran, who also curated the permanent exhibition in the LAHM’s new Louis Armstrong Center, which opened in summer 2023.

The exhibition at DAS MINSK is accompanied by a catalog published by Hatje Cantz Verlag with essays by Tina Campt, Paola Malavassi, and Jason Moran.


DAS MINSK Kunsthaus in Potsdam 
Max-Planck-Straße 17
14473 Potsdam


Saturday, 16.09.2023 – Sunday, 04.02.2024


10 Euro, 8 Euro reduced
Combiticket 20 Euro, 12 Euro reduced (the Combiticket is valid for the Museum Barberini and DAS MINSK Kunsthaus in Potsdam)

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