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Stan Douglas
Potsdamer Schrebergärten
24.9.2022 – 15.1.2023 
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An allotment garden where vegetables are grown and a large wooden ladder leans against a full apple tree.

How cities change over time and how history leaves its traces in the urban landscape, whether in Detroit or Vancouver or in Potsdam. 

Potsdamer Schrebergärten is the title of Stan Douglas’ photographic series, as well as his exhibition at DAS MINSK Kunsthaus in Potsdam. Created in Potsdam at the beginning of the 90s, the series will be shown together with the film Der Sandmann (1995).

During his one-year residency with the DAAD in Berlin, Stan Douglas captured the city of Potsdam immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall in documentary form: Sacrow, the area around Sanssouci, and the Schlaatz housing estate. This series Potsdamer Schrebergärten (1994/95) captures moments of transition: an abandoned dacha, a former wall fence, gardens that have since disappeared; a “Trabbi” (an East German–produced car) parked before a Kleingarten site. This early series already reveals a theme that Stan Douglas also explores in his later photographs: how cities change over time and how history leaves its traces in the urban landscape, whether in Detroit or Vancouver or in Potsdam. After shooting the photographs in the Schrebergärten, which seem like a typological study, Douglas reconstructed the Schrebergärten in a film studio, so that the garden, even if recreated, becomes a site of artistic production. 

The film Der Sandmann consists of a double projection and deals with a “doubled” garden—a Kleingarten at different points in German history, before and after the fall of the Wall. The protagonist Nathanael, a Black German from the former GDR, explains in a letter how a childhood experience in a Potsdam Schrebergarten catches up with him when he revisits the scene twenty years later, after the reunification. Der Sandmann is a film about identity, between memory and repression, and is a film about Doppelgänger, also in German-German history. 
Douglas’ works are often about “local symptoms for global conditions.” [1] The artist believes that the more specific one is, the more universal something becomes. He is interested in so-called minor histories. In many cases, these form the starting point from which he sketches other courses of history, thereby blurring the line between reality and fiction. His works do not so much provide answers as raise questions about history, with its contradictions and its blind spots.
That Douglas shot his film Der Sandmann in the former DEFA-Studios in Babelsberg, which have their own history of division, unification, and privatization, is only one of the many layers and references that come together in this exhibition. Ironically, the Vancouver artist brings the local reference. Both the film and the photographic series will be presented in Potsdam for the first time, the place where they were created. Douglas delved deeply into local historical research, yet Der Sandmann and Potsdamer Schrebergärten are not only works about Potsdam and German reunification. They are works about unresolved moments in history, whose consequences remain palpable today. 


Stan Douglas, born 1960 in Vancouver, is a visual artist. He is considered one of the most significant representatives of time-based media art. His films and photographs have been included in exhibitions internationally since the early 1980s, including at Documenta IX, X, and XI (1992, 1997, 2002) and in five Venice Biennales 1990, 2001, 2005, 2019, and 2022 representing Canada. He lives and works in Vancouver and Los Angeles.


[1] Stan Douglas, lecture, The Cooper Union: Public Arts Fund Talks, 28.1.2021. Douglas held this talk on the occasion of the unveiling of his installation at Penn Station, New York. 

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WOLFGANG MATTHEUER UND STAN DOUGLAS: AN ENCOUNTER 

The exhibitions by WOLFGANG MATTHEUER AND STAN DOUGLAS in DAS MINSK Kunsthaus in Potsdam, are devoted to the political theme of landscape—a subject that occupies a central role within the Hasso Plattner Collection, from Impressionism to the present day. With the simultaneous exhibitions of two artists from the collection, we investigate this theme through painting from the former GDR as well as photography and film, which reflect a time of upheaval in Potsdam some thirty years ago. It is about vast and confined nature, as well the city and industry in the tension between preservation and renewal. Both artists have repeatedly managed to connect the visible and the invisible, the seen and the thought, reality and fiction. Whether outside or in the studio, whether painted, photographed or filmed: it is the Schrebergarten that becomes a microcosm and a reflection of sociopolitical conditions in the exhibitions—then as now. 

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