The Federal Cultural Foundation and the Cultural Foundation of German States have agreed to cooperate on a regular basis to support projects of mutual interest. Both foundations are currently funding a cultural-historical double exhibition on the history and culture of male and female homosexuality to be shown at the German Historical Museum and the Schwules Museum* in Berlin in 2015.
Even though considerable progress has been made to strengthen the rights of homosexuals in recent years (e.g. gay marriage), homosexuality continues to be fodder for social conflicts and personal discrimination. Many people in the centre of Europe reject or at best only tolerate homosexual lifestyles as we’ve recently seen in Russia, Hungary or in France where people have demonstrated against granting adoption rights to gay couples. Most countries have a long way to go before they can legally guarantee comprehensive equal rights to their gay citizens. In fact, numerous countries around the world regard homosexuality as a crime, and those who openly practice it face persecution and punishment.
Combining social and art history, and incorporating both instructive and aesthetic-artistic approaches, this exhibition project aimed to break down prejudices, overcome taboos, and initiate a discussion on questions concerning normality and abnormality, and in so doing encourage participation by experts, the gay community and the general public. The premise of the curatorial concept was not to treat homosexuality as a minority problem or existing in a niche, but rather to emphasise the integral function of minorities in enlightened societies. Furthermore, the progress achieved by the lesbian movement for the emancipation of homosexuals has yet to receive any fitting show of appreciation. This joint project by both museums aimed to mend this oversight and more strongly emphasise the activities of the lesbian community, as it has often been marginalised in historical depictions of feminism in the past.
Alongside items on international loan, this comprehensive show presented numerous materials from the collection of the Schwules Museum* and the archives of the women's and lesbian movement, as well as from several private collections. Works by artists such as Monica Bonvicini, Louise Bourgeois, Heather Cassils, Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Lotte Laserstein, Lee Lozano, Sturtevant, Jeanne Mammen and Andy Warhol commented on the exhibition's themes in a variety of ways.
The exhibition project was developedped in cooperation with the research team of the German Historical Museum. The curators were Birgit Bosold, member of the board of trustees at the Schwules Museum*, the art historian and experienced exhibition-maker Dorothée Brill and the scenographer, architect and curator Detlef Weitz.