Tommaso Bonaventura "Tommaso Bonaventura – 100 marchi marchi – Berlino 2019" is an artistic project by the photographer Tommaso Bonaventura, developed in collaboration with the curator Elisa Del Prete, marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (9 November 1989). The exhibition tells the story of the Begrüßungsgeld Begrüßungsgeld, the ‘welcome money’ which from 1970 to December 1989 was given to citizens of the DDR on entering West Germany for the first time. This vicissitude provides food for thought on an epochal change, starting from a stance that favours private, family stories, expressed through a two-sided narrative: both photographic and video.
The exhibition is the upshot of collaboration between various institutions and will tour between various venues: in Turin, in CAMERA – Centro Italiano per la Fotografia and at the Museo del Risparmio in Trento; in the venue known as ‘Le Gallerie’ at the Fondazione Museo Storico del Trentino, and at San Vito al Tagliamento in the church of San Lorenzo, thanks to collaboration with the CRAF – Centro Ricerca e Archiviazione della Fotografia.
The simple question “Do you remember how you spend your Begrüßungsgeld?” posed to a number of Germans from the ex-DDR from various generations, interviewed over the course of 2018 and 2019, represents the starting point for a journey into memory, to this day usually shared very little, of these people who experienced all-out change, from a material, occupational, social, economic and political point of view. While the fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for a new political and geographical world structure, marking the end of the Cold War, the reunification of East and West Germany remains a complex phenomenon to this day, yet one largely overlooked in its deeper aspects. Often passed off as the response to an obvious desire for freedom, the crossing of the physical border that symbolically coincides with the knocking down of the wall inevitably also entails the need also to overcome an ideological border.
9 November 1989 does not only mark the fall of the Berlin Wall, but also the change of an entire country: the part that is reunited with its origins undergoes an inevitable metamorphosis, and a whole way of living, thinking, behaving, dressing and spending rapidly disappear. In next to no time, the German Democratic Republic is removed from the collective imagination and memory. Almost 17 million people suddenly find themselves immersed in a new lifestyle, in which the rules learnt up until that point are no longer applicable. The transformation is sudden. In the government policies and in people’s everyday lives, the new alphabet of the West takes hold, along with its colours, its smells, its economic and social policies, and what were two distinct communities find themselves living together.