Opening Thursday, October 27th, at 6:30PM
Join us at City Lit Books for a talk by historian Briana J. Smith, discussing her new book ‘Free Berlin: Art, Urban Politics, and Everyday Life’!
In pre- and post-reunification Berlin, socially engaged artists championed collective art making and creativity over individual advancement, transforming urban space and civic life in the process. These artists worked intentionally outside the art market, believing that art should be everywhere, freed from its confinement in museums and galleries. During the Cold War, the city’s state of exception invited artists on both sides of the Wall to detour from artistic tradition; post-Wall, art became a tool of resistance against the orthodoxy of economic growth. In ‘Free Berlin,’ Briana Smith explores the everyday peculiarities, collective joys, and grassroots provocations of experimental artists in late Cold War Berlin and their legacy in today’s city.
With ‘Free Berlin,’ Smith offers an alternative history of art in Berlin, detaching artistic innovation from art world narratives and connecting it instead to Berliners’ historic embrace of care, solidarity, and cooperation.
Briana J. Smith is Assistant Director and Lecturer in the Committee on Degrees in History and Literature at Harvard University and teaches for the Harvard Extension School.