PALAST DES ZWEIFELS
Palast der Republik, Berlin Germany January 26. - May 15. 2005
PALAST DES ZWEIFELS (the Palace of Doubt) transformed the non-functional architecture of the DDR´s Palace of Republic, into a virtual institution for doubt.
Once a glamorous modernist masterpiece build in the 1970´s, Palast der Republik (the Palace of the Republic) was a giant steel construction with solid white marble facade and with copper-gold coated windows. It was mirroring the Berliner Dome, Schinkel´s Lustgarten and other historical buildings on the Museums Island. The palace was erected by presisdent Erich Honnecker and therefore it was among East Berliners nicknamed as «Erichs Lampenladen», (erichs lamp shop) due to its thousands of bright lights, chandeliers and lamps. It was open to public and ordinary people dated, married, dined and danced in this hybrid of a parlament and communal house.
After the fall of DDR in 1990, the palace was abandonded and left empty and dark for more than 15 years. Between 1998 -2003 asbestos was removed and in the process the complete interior and the facade was ruined.
On daily basis, ever since the Reunification, the building was subject to massive debates: Which position could the Palace have in the future, as icon of a former totalitarian regime? Could it fulfill a new function, becoming a new cultural place like it used to be? Or would the social site where eastgermans had spent their leisure become a problem for a new Germany?
Monitoring these debates over years Ramberg developed the idea to create a monument -over the debate itself, the transparancy of the identity discourse, and the collective courage to doubt. Palast des Zweifel was his tribute to the new era of German history, where Doubt has become a proof of reflection and democracy. Collective doubt has brought Germany out of its totalitarian background and in fact united the two German nations.
After 6 years of investigation in bureaucrazy and technical preparations Palast des Zweifels was finally realised. The three stories high letters forming ZWEIFEL, merged with the ruined Palace from DDR times. Filling the open space on the roof, as a final puzzle. Placed on historical ground, facing Berliner Dom at the end of Unter den Linden, the aluminum letters illuminated with white neon tubes were visable from far.
Palast des ZWEIFELS became an aggregate for politics itself, performing new debates on national identity as well as the destiny of the Palace. Palast des Zweifels gained a lot of attention and political reactions in the media. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zweitung described ZWEIFEL a new Biedermeyer. The project was officially debated in the German Parliament during the display. The magazine Der Spiegel published a leader article on the 60th anniversary of piece. «A nation in search of itself» drew the lines from the WWII up til today using Palast des Zweifels as final illustration. This same day Ramberg published his own newspaper; Zweifel Allgemeine consists of authentic headlines collected from German Newspapers conserning doubt in general.
Most monuments conclude and close History. With Palast des Zweifels Ramberg intended to stimulate reflections over the ongoing discussions, objecting any ideological conclusions. Palast des Zweifels could therefore be seen as a critic of the tradition of historical monuments.
The German Bundestag finally made the desicion to demolish the Palace and rebuild a replica of the CityCastle of Friedrich II on the same Site. After bombings during WWII the citycastle was ruined and in 1949 it was demolished by DDR.
The project is initiated and developed by the artist Lars Ø Ramberg.Palast der Republik, Berlin Germany.
Different reactionswas published by Artforum, Spiegel and Frankfurter Allgemeine