This quote by Ernst Toller sums up the goals of the Society for the Promotion of the Center for Persecuted Arts, Solingen. #Wir_Erinnern_Wir_Gestalten!
The Center for Persecuted Arts does not hesitate. As a place for people whose opportunities for artistic development were blocked, prevented, and destroyed by terror and violence from the dictatorships of the last century to the present day, it takes action and develops a variety of projects based on its collection, the Civic Society for Persecuted Arts – Else Lasker-Schüler Center – Gerhard Schneider Art Collection. It sees itself as a museum of discovery and gives a place to those who, due to forced migration, terror and exile, political persecution and exclusion, have not found or do not find a forum. Beyond the traditional tasks of a museum, the Center is a socio-political institution that responds to current developments and repeatedly emphasizes the fragility of our pluralistic, liberal society.
One thing is certain: Nothing is past. Nothing is over. And the suppression of the free spirit extends relentlessly and worldwide from yesterday into today.
We know: Art and artists have always been, and continue to be, among the first victims of authoritarian regimes. Persecuted artists and their works often have a world-changing power through the incalculable effect they have on people’s minds and hearts. Or, in the words of the philosopher Hannah Arendt, who was exiled by the Nazis: “There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous.”
In its first five years of existence, the Center has earned a national and international reputation for living up to this claim with impressive exhibitions and events, both analog and multimedia.
This has only been possible thanks to the commitment of individuals and institutions who made the founding of the Museum Center for Persecuted Arts possible in the first place and who remain connected to it to this day; and the circle of those who are committed to the museum and feel connected to its philosophy has grown steadily.
In order to make the work of the Center better known—especially in Solingen and the surrounding region—and to network it more strongly and to be able to expand its radius of action, long-time companions and newly won enthusiasts initiated the founding of the Promotional Society. The Center for Persecuted Arts needs an institutionalized place of its own, where people can express their attachment to the museum and support it both ideologically and materially.
The Society for the Promotion of the Center for Persecuted Arts has set itself the task, among other things, of promoting cooperation with institutions with similar goals and concerns in the sense of an (inter)cultural network—from committed schools in the region to international organizations—or of granting persecuted artists shelter for a few months in order to practice their art.
The members of the Society also do all this because they care about the success of our democratic society. The work of the Center—as important as it is and remains—is not “only” about keeping alive the memory of the atrocities of the Nazi era or researching the dictatorship of the former GDR. Remembrance work deliberately focuses on the present and the future. In view of the rise of anti-Semitism, racism, conspiracy myths, group-based misanthropy, nationalism, and populism, we see it as our responsibility to strengthen the work of the Center.