Art and Power

Lutz Dammbeck "Selbst im Leipziger Atelier", 1986 Karin Plessing

Lutz Dammbeck

With his artwork The Herakles Concept, German filmmaker Lutz Dammbeck works at the interface between liberal arts and film. 

How and when do artists become complicit with power, entangled in its strategies that sometimes surpass their awareness? Dammbeck’s perspective is a unique one. Perhaps it is the result of him being part of a minority of artists that were able to leave socialist East Germany in 1986 for the Western liberal-capitalist part of the country. The director allows us to share his viewpoint which, although highly subjective, appears nonetheless cautiously observing, impartial and even strangely ahistorical times. From 1992-2004 Dammbeck created a four-part series in which he traces the ways art merges with power, talking to artists and intellectuals who, after the apex of their careers, sometimes abruptly finding themselves marginalized and sidelined by an unforeseen historical change. In the process, he uncovers a complex of creators, institutions and a legacy of ideas from Nazi to GDR art, Viennese antimodernist actionism, to Silicon Valley Hippies and cybernetics, and invites us to step outside, estrange ourselves from our own historical context.

Dammbeck examines how fast these powerful images can be transmitted across time and place, and what remains of their influence at the end of the 20th century and beyond.

Four screenings of Lutz Dammbeck’s documentary tetralogy Art and Power, curated by Giles Simon Fielke and Nicolas Hausdorf, in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut and the University of Melbourne.