By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
BERLIN, APRIL 23, 2020 — The coronavirus pandemic shutdown has affected every aspect of life here in Germany, from schools to shops, from factories to farms. Social encounters that have always been part of our daily life, in restaurants, bars and cafes, fitness studies, public parks and playgrounds, have undergone a drastic redefinition, distancing has replaced engagement, friendly personal exchange stifles under the protective cloth of the face mask.
And we all agree: it is the right thing to do. So far, the measures taken by the German government have contributed to reducing the spread of the virus and it is deliberating how slowly, step by step, the shutdown can be eased.
Cultural life is suffering the impact. Here in Germany, as elsewhere, theatres are closed, the opera houses are silent, the music festivals, like the annual series of concerts in the Rhine valley, will not take place. Museums are shut; only those with the adequate technical and financial resources have organized virtual tours through the internet. Homes for the elderly which usually enjoy visits by poetry circles and small music ensembles have to endure a ban on visits.
Archi Galentz is an Armenian artist whose atelier and gallery occupy an important place in the cultural life of the capital. On April 12, his new gallery should have celebrated its first anniversary with the vernissage of a new exhibition, but — alas — that was not possible. In a letter addressed to friends of the gallery, Galentz reported on how he and his colleagues — despite everything — are dealing with the current challenge. With his kind permission, we share some of his thoughts with our readers.
Allow me to address you with a personal message. These days many of us are celebrating the holy Easter. Since my childhood, it has been my favorite holiday. And not only because I was named Harutyun, “Resurrection” in Armenian. The older I get, the more I understand the significance of this credo as victory over despair.
This year, the power of hope for rebirth is especially important. My family and relatives are scattered in different countries and it is not clear when we will meet again at the same table. But this is really not a big problem, since I am today with my heart and thoughts with all my friends and relatives who are struggling with uncertainty in the near future or with the disease itself, who are feeling hostage to today’s situation.
I spent Sunday evening in my newly found Berlin home, the Wolf & Galenz gallery garden, in the close circle of our team, that has become a family. We just had to get together on the first anniversary of the opening of our gallery, to look back at the year that passed, to discuss future projects, both emotionally and cordially, though of course, we sat at a correct ‘social distance’ from each other.
The year that began for us on April 12, was both intense and challenging. We organized 7 exhibition projects, each of which was unique in its own way. We presented group exhibitions of classics from our collection and works by contemporary Berlin artists from our circle. We hosted guest artists from Los Angeles and Serbia. And the curator of the Armenian National Pavilion in Venice conducted a multimedia research project on the theme of the dialogue with authority.
We highlighted one important aspect in the creative journey lasting 60 years of a Berlin woman artist, whose legacy is our care. Information about all our exhibitions, photographs of expositions and lists of participants are displayed for you on our website. Our latest exhibition about the medium of woodcut was particularly successful. We await this week a 160-page catalog to be delivered from the printer.
Of course, for this anniversary we planned a special exhibition, bright and inspiring. Unfortunately, we can’t invite guests during the city quarantine and the opening is postponed indefinitely. But of course, I will inform you of the dates of new events and the schedule of the gallery. We are sure that life will return to normal and we will again be able to host you in our gallery spaces to present you with exhibition projects that we prepare with creativity of designers and curiosity of practicing artists.
During these days of the pandemic and general insecurity, one can especially understand the limits of human capabilities and the relativity of daily fussing. We are happy to inform you of substantial support of our gallery by two philanthropists from Germany and Armenia.
And very special thanks to each of you! For attention, for advice, for active participation and especially for trust in us as partners helping you in collecting or introducing you to visual art. Please continue to contact us with any matter in which our gallery can be of assistance.
artist & curator based in Berlin”