Die leere Mitte
Where borders are torn down, new ones quickly emerge. For decades, Potsdamer Platz lay vacant, the empty centre of Berlin, straddling the borders of the Cold War. This is where, starting in 1990, the headquarters of international corporations were built, in immediate proximity to the political centre of a reunified Germany. Hito Steyerl’s long-term observation of Potsdamer Platz reflects on the urban upheavals from Berlin’s old customs borders, through the “Berlin West Africa Conference” and the Nazi period up to the years following the fall of the Wall. These upheavals reveal the traces of anti-Semitic and racist colonial history as well as historical global restructuring, but also the persistence of social and political boundaries. The history of the square demonstrates how building a powerful centre has always gone hand in hand with exclusion, in particular of immigrants and minorities.
After the screening, urban researcher Noa K. Ha will talk with the artist about how, still 25 years after the film’s release, the observations found in Die leere Mitte (The Empty Centre) retain their unbroken relevance/topicality.
The event “The Empty Centre” is a cooperation between the Akademie der Künste, Berlin and the nGbK as part of the programme accompanying the exhibition POWER SPACE VIOLENCE. Planning and Building under National Socialism and the nGbK Lectures.
Noa K. Ha is scientific director of the German Centre for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM). Previously, she taught and conducted research at the TU Berlin and was a guest lecturer at the Weißensee Academy of Art. The focus of her work is on post-colonial urban research, migrant and diasporic politics of remembrance, critical integration research and racism critique.
Hito Steyerl lives and works as a filmmaker and author in Berlin. She has been a member of the Visual Arts Section of the Akademie der Künste since 2021.