Fluentum is pleased to present the exhibition The Soviet Headquarters by artist and filmmaker Sven Johne as part of Berlin Art Week 2023. At the centre of the exhibition is the titular film produced by Fluentum, which will premiere in September. The exhibition is complemented by an installation of Johne’s earlier video works, some of which come from the Fluentum Collection and continue thematic strands.
Fig. above: Sven Johne, The Soviet Headquarters, 2023, film still. Copyright Sven Johne
In Sven Johne’s works, personal narratives overlay the monolithic cornerstones of official history to retell it along personal evasions and emotional moments of disruption. Johne appropriates the aesthetics of the documentary and feeds fictional elements into it, torpedoing its claims to truth. What emerges is a realism that, beyond authenticity and reflection, yields more than the sum of its parts.
Johne’s new film The Soviet Headquarters (2023) is set on the now derelict site of the former House of Officers in Wünsdorf, Brandenburg. Built in the early 20th century in the neo-baroque style, the palatial estate served as the cultural headquarters of Soviet troops stationed in East Germany until 1994. In Johne’s new work, this headquarters becomes the setting for a conversation between the real estate agent Becker (Marc Zwinz), doomed to success, and the supposedly interested Katharina Baronn (Luise Helm), who initially inspects the premises, lost in thought. As the film progresses, our attention shifts and Katharina Baronn’s inner monologue comes to the fore: she experienced the withdrawal of the Soviet troops here as an 8-year-old child. Since then, a sentimental “children’s Soviet Union” (in Johne’s words) has haunted her memories as a supposed alternative to real existing capitalism. The Soviet Headquarters is about early imprints, the effectiveness of ideologies and the farewell to childhood.
Staged in the former US headquarters where Fluentum now shows exhibitions, Das sowjetische Hauptquartier doubles temporalities, ideologies and the twists and turns of political history in the post-reunification period to enter into a dialogue about the connection between failure and remembering.
A catalogue designed by André Fuchs will be published on the occasion of the exhibition.
Exhibition date: Wednesday, 13 September – Saturday, 16 December 2023
Opening: Tuesday, 12 September 2023, 1