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“The Big Illusion” – Central Europe in WW1 Multimedia Exhibition

August 07th, 2014

News from Berlin – Instead of focusing on well-known war scenes, the exhibition “The big illusion – Central Europe in the First World War: glasses of irreality” concentrates on the artistic outcomes of the trauma caused by the devastation of war. In order for the audience to discover the full spectrum of the cultural anthropology of the First World War in Central Europe, the exhibition was designed in a truly multidisciplinary way. Thus, history of art, music, theatre and literature all contributed to the creature of the exhibition hosted by the Hungarian Balassi Institute.

The multimedia exhibition explains the illusions people seemed to embrace about a possible war before it broke out in 1914. It was also mentioned naively as “lightning war” and soldiers going to the battlefield wrote “once leaves start to fall from the trees, we will be home”. The main mission of the exhibition is therefore, to express the contrast between these illusions and the dark reality of the following years. The exhibition turns into a huge multimedia installation that can be discovered walking through the whole building of Collegium Hungaricum Berlin. The exhibition is a unique attempt to change the perspective of traditional war portrayal and show the general crisis of 20th century’s individual.

Themes include a war prisoner camp in Siberia in which the cultural life of prisoners is shown who occasionally played theater plays, made music and edited newspapers. “It’Show Time Siberia” is the title of Péter Kalmán’s documentation that inspired the theme. It displays the bitter-sweet moments of prisoners when they got the chance to play Hungarian composer Imre Kálmán’s famous play Csárdáskirálynő (Queen of Czardas) inside the camp, which for a couple of minutes let them distract from the shocks of war.   

Variety, originality and modern representation make the exhibition a unique one worth dedicating a visit. The exhibition is opened until 16th October at the Hungarian Cultural Institute, Moholy-Nagy Gallery, Dorotheenstraße 12, 10117 Berlin.  

News from Berlin – Berlin Global