“I need a change of scenery, said the birch tree,” sang Hildegard Knef (Neff) once, and henceforth started writing her own lyrics. Even in everyday life one speaks about a “change of scenery,” if the situation is to be changed fundamentally. A change of scenery is more than a whitewash, it is a drastic change, nonetheless only giving a new background for the existing inventory. A tool of interpretation, a different view, not only in everyday life, but also in terms of identity, theories and ideologies.
New installments, adapted from the Dandy-exhibition, brought new possibilities. We draped things around, extended them, added innovations. Change of Scenery as a series wants to remain flexible, constantly planning smaller presentations inside an ever-moving exhibition. Additional slots, not necessarily from our own collection, address issues that could not be implemented up to now.
After Rock Hudson and the Aids-Crisis, we are now dealing with the root-text of feminism, Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. In times of regression, the undermining of emancipation, revise old claims, put them up for discussion and firmly encourage the defence of our values. The Simone de Beauvoir project can be read as a personal, biographical exploration of the curator and his generation. We all were existentialists and the great couple Sartre-Beauvoir had an exemplary function for new ways of relationships – not only for heterosexuals. Even now, when re-reading brings to light Simone de Beauvoir’s reservations against “fairies”.
Another newcomer in our exhibition Change of Scenery is the shifting presentation of the newest additions to our archive. This time we present photographs taken by Fritz Weiss, a former window dresser and amateur photographer from Stuttgart, developing nude photography in his own darkroom since the 60’s. Up to the liberalization of the paragraph 175 in 1969 Weiss did not dare to get pictures developed in an external laboratory.
At the heart of the exhibit will be a section memorializing the gay victims murdered within the concentration camp Sachsenhausen. We will also tell stories of gay and lesbian careers during the Third Reich, and of the lives of men and women living in secrecy. In 1922 Kurt Hillers published his leaflet §175 – disgrace of the century. An installation by Kurt Stark on the history of §175 starts off the room. In the front that figurine of Napoleon sits on a pedestal. Napoleon, who modernized the French penal law, however, not for women, women were actually worse off than in medieval caste system, Napoleon abolished the persecution of gays. The Code Napoleon applied in many German states, until 1871, when the establishment of the German Empire made the punishment of male homosexuality permanent again. Women’s suffrage was not granted in France till 1944.