Everything Is Just for a While

70 years of Berliner Festspiele revisited

28 May to 17 October 2021

Approximately 1,000 hours of film footage from public and private archives have been viewed for this exhibition. From this, the sound and pictures have been restored on over 5 hours of film and edited into three video installations that present news, discourse and art spanning 70 years. The 3 channel video installation dedicated to artistic positions from all areas of the festival (260 minutes) moved chronologically through Berliner Festspiele’s history and were presented twice daily.

Key visual “Everything Is Just for a While”

Previously little-known video footage from our own, public and private collections were boldly edited together in ‘Everything Is Just for a While’ to mark the Berliner Festspiele’s 70th birthday and offered a new perspective on artistic positions from around the world that continue to amaze us today.

A laboratory and an experiment, a seismograph of the zeitgeist, an exhibition space and a debating society, radical art and workshops for young people, fireworks and sporting events, weeks of African art, urban planning and new writing, an Institute of Advanced Studies and a celebratory water-borne procession and a recurrent platform for the international art scene – over the last 70 years the Berliner Festspiele have been all of these things. In their birthday year, ‘Everything Is Just for a While’ presented a compilation of previously little-known film footage, a hall of mirrors of memories. These video installations were framed by infographics that gave the history and identity of the Berliner Festspiele’s visual form.

The video installations were testimony to the fissures and ricochets, the extremes and the experiments in the Festspiele’s history, and prompted us to explore the question of what these past orchestral and jazz concerts, pioneering electronic works, theatre productions, city-wide actions, exhibitions, discussion series, circus performances, rituals, dance productions, youth contests, cinema projects, films for planetariums, artist talks and opening speeches have to say to us today. In our research we looked for daring, for out-of-the-box thinking, for the ambition and patience to see what was coming and what it would become. And certainly, the way we have chosen to look at and think about our history reveals something about how we want to shape the future.

In this way the contours emerged of a biography that can never fully be told of an institution that has been and continues to be shaped by countless members of staff and their particular abilities. The stream of events in this narrative allows us to discern some recurring threads – an interest in artists and developments in Eastern Europe, Africa, America and South East Asia, along with the history of the artistic avant-garde and political turning points mark the Festspiele’s work both past and present. In retrospect, thirty years after the opening of the Berlin Wall, their political opposition to the situation in the GDR is evident. Their original role as “show-window for the West” as well as their steadily growing curiosity regarding the different perspectives of many non-Western and indigenous cultures and strategies for sustainable change and environmental protection are reflected in the festivals and programmes.

Exhibition room “Everything Is Just for a While”
Booklet “Everything Is Just for a While”
Berliner Festspiele 70

Everything Is Just for a While – Booklet

Read the exhibition booklet here.

To the booklet (, 3.8 MB)

Concept and dramaturgy
Thomas Oberender, Jeroen Versteele

Video installations
Thilo Fischer, David von der Stein

Partner institutions

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Media partners
Exberliner, Monopol, Wall, York Kinogruppe

Akademie der Künste, Arsenal - Institut für Film und Medienkunst e.V., Associazione Grupporiani, Berlin Art Link, Boosey & Hawkes, Bundesarchiv, Transit Film, EAI Electronic Arts Intermix, Edition Peters Group C.F. Peters Ltd & Co, Felix Bloch Erben, Filmgalerie 451, Japan Actors Association, Kobalt Productions GmbH, MONA productions, Sammlung Video-Forum des Neuen Berliner Kunstverein e.V. (n.b.k.), Phenomen Berlin Filmproduktion GmbH, Progress Film GmbH, Suhrkamp Theater Verlag, Shochiku Co. Ltd. Tokyo, Schott Music GmbH & Co. KG, Südwestrundfunk (SWR), Telewizja Polska S.A., ZDF / Arte, ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe

Special thanks to
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bujumbura (Burundi), Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Federal Republic of Germany, Bunraku Kyokai, Osaka (Japan), German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), German Broadcasting Archive, Galerie Hauser & Wirth (Zurich), Goethe-Institut Tokyo and Kyoto (Japan), Goethe-Institut Kigali (Rwanda), Japanese-German Centre Berlin, Japan Foundation in Berlin, The Living Theatre, La MaMa Archive, Landesarchiv Berlin, National Ballet of China, Neue Nationalgalerie (SMB), Nohgaku-Kyokai (Association of Noh Actors), Rowohlt Verlag GmbH, Wolf Vostell Estate as well as
René Block, Maksym Demydenko, Guido Diekmann, Ulrich Eckhardt, Helfrid Foron, Petra and Erhard Grosskopf, Felix Gruntz, Werner Heegewaldt, Nathalie Huck, Mona Intemann, Peter Konopatsch, Thorsten Maß, Udo Lindenberg, Ida Müller, Heinz-Dieter Reese, Frieder Schlaich, Julia Schmejkal and Martina Seidel.