Temporary work of art at the Soviet Memorial in Dresden
To mark the 78th anniversary of the end of World War II and liberation from Nazism, Dresden artist Svea Duwe has developed an artistic intervention for the Soviet Memorial in Dresden.
The temporary artwork, entitled „This structure is fragile,“ draws attention to the monument’s ambivalent history as well as the markedly different current perspectives on the anniversary of May 8, 1945. The background to the artistic intervention and the event is also the upcoming renovation and planned contextualization of the monument in 2024.
The monument was designed by the Dresden sculptor Otto Rost immediately after the end of the war on behalf of the Red Army and inaugurated as a memorial to the fallen soldiers of the 5th Guards Army on November 25, 1945. The memorial was thus the first monument to Soviet soldiers on German soil commissioned by the Red Army after World War II. In 1994, the memorial, originally located on Albertplatz, was moved in front of the Military History Museum on Olbrichtplatz and is still considered a significant testimony to the communal commemoration and remembrance landscape.
Svea Duwe’s art installation takes up a securing brace already attached to the monument in need of renovation by the monument protection authorities and recasts it in red color. The changing of the colour is complemented on three sides of the monument by text fields, each of which reads in red lettering on a white background: „This structure is fragile!“, „Dieses Gebilde ist fragil!“ and „Эта конструкция хрупкая!“. With the temporary re-tensioning of the monument, the artist poses not only the question of the material fragility of the monument, but also that of the fragility of the memory-cultural contexts and a necessary re-evaluation of a monument that was designed in 1945 by an artist who was also a member of the NSDAP.
Just like the militaristic formal language of the monument, the classification of the monument as well as of May 8 as the day of liberation raises questions that are important for a future contextualization, not least on the basis of different spaces of remembrance and against the background of a pluralistic culture of remembrance and a differentiated remembering of the history of violence in East Central and Eastern Europe in the 20th century.