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There are pearls that swine never find: A re-installation of the Siegmar Piske collection

27. August 2009 – 16. November 2009

Upon entering the attic flat it smells like essential rose and traffic noise from outside penetrate the insulated windows. Glass cases with books on powerful politicians and far-off places stand in the dusky entrance hall. In between there: drawings, photographs, sculptures and mountains of paper on the floor. The entrance hall separates the flat into two parts. On the left hand side there are living and bedroom facing the noisy Torstraße, on the right hand side are the kitchen, bathroom and a spare room. Here are the living quarters and there are the workrooms. But the flat is separated into two parts in yet another way. There is the salon that contains various fame of artistic representation and was the pride of the former resident of the flat, and there is the rest of the flat – the private rooms.

In the salon, pictures of naked people – both pornographic and non-pornographic – cover the walls. And here there is an abundance of little, embroidered tablecloths, which the owner collected by the hundreds and which were mostly decorated with moral maxims. The flat’s walls are covered from floor to ceiling with all kinds of pictures as far as the furniture will allow. The room is heavily furnished. An armchair, a dining table from the period of promoterism, couches, coffee tables, side tables, tea tables, sewing tables, night stands.

The resident of the flat, Siegmar Piske (1942-2009), was a chief consistorial counsel (lawyer) of the Lutheran Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Schlesische Oberlausitz and he died after a long severe illness. However, when he still was alive and healthy, he spent a lot of time on excursions and field studies as well as on collecting things; among them are coins, china, small sculptures, newspaper articles and little pictures of models and young men, which he kept in an album, tied behind mirrors, fixed on the fridge with magnets or above the copper pots on the stove. However, something must have happened – was it the death of his lover, problems with coming out, or merely disappointment with the reunification that made an attic department into a place of refuge?

There above, a gay world was created. And this world now appears in the Gay museum as his heritage. The “gay objects” shall be handed over to the museum’s estate, the “non-gay objects” are to be sold at an auction. But who dares to set the border line? In the end, is the collection of KPM vases more gay than the porn collection or the sculptures of nude men, which are arranged by the dozens in every corner?

It seems one thing is obvious. For the generation which yet personally experienced §175, the affection for mocha cups is more characteristic than those for dildos. In Siegmar Piske’s flat the image of a whole generation, which is slowly dying out, becomes clear, the accomplishment of a life dream between aesthetic and desire.

Before this mosaic of personal reminiscences and longings is torn apart, stored, or sold, a part of this flat shall be brought into public awareness as a re-construction in the space of the Gay Museum for a short time.

There are only a few things known about the person of Siegmar Piske, but the collection reveals many things about the collector, about his humour, his preferences and the importance of the objects to him. Diversity and emotional value always are prior to the value of the art’s market. And thus Siegmar Piske’s collection yet is in the tendency of time, as it is stated in the magazine Art and Auction: “Much more is bought universally. One strives for an ensemble which rather follows a philosophy or aesthetic aspects than a demand for completeness or peak value.” Siegmar Piske’s apartment above the Berlin rooms serves as an example of this contemporary idea of a room of art and wonders.

Curator: Boris von Brauchitsch