10 September 2021 marked the opening of the exhibition Contested Modernities. Postcolonial Architecture in Southeast Asia. Due to the pandemic-related restrictions, the ceremonial opening was attended by a limited number of guests, consisting mainly of exhibition contributors, representatives of the funding institutions, and partners.
The opening started with a tour through the exhibition for supporters, partners and press representatives, guided by its initiators and artistic directors, Sally Below, Moritz Henning, and Christian Hiller. The guests were then welcomed in sunny weather in front of the exhibition space on the ground floor of Haus der Statistik at Alexanderplatz.
As the curators from Jakarta, Phnom Penh, Singapore, and Yangon were unfortunately unable to travel to Berlin, they sent video messages that were shared on a screen.
In the subsequent welcoming address, Torsten Wöhlert, State Secretary for Culture, Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe, emphasized the importance of Berlin’s architectural heritage and discussions about its future.
Ministerial Director Gabriele Kautz, who represented the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI), which, along with the German Capital Cultural Fund of Berlin, has provided significant support for the project, underscored the relevance of an architectural debate that includes structures built in the past decades since the 1960s. For her, international exchange is indispensable in order to learn from each other.
Sally Below then spoke with H. E. Ambassador Laurence Bay of the Republic Singapore in Berlin; Hannan Hadi, Counsellor Press, Social and Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Berlin; and Nina Peters, ZUsammenKUNFT (ZKB) eG, Haus der Statistik, about their impressions of the exhibition, personal relationship to architecture, and the future of Haus der Statistik as a model project.
With many good conversations, accompanied by music of the 1950s and 1960s from Southeast Asia collected by DJ Boris, the opening went on for a long while.