When Berlin-based conceptual artists Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock first visited St. Louis in 2002, they were surprised by how familiar the city felt to them.
"We were baffled by how German it is. How normal everything sounds and looks," said Stih. "It wasn’t New York, it wasn’t Chicago, for sure not LA, It was something like a nice, quiet, city with extraordinary town planning."
This unexpected sense of familiarity became the impetus for Stih and Schnock's exhibition opening Friday at the Saint Louis Art Museum. As the 2012-2013 Fruend Fellows, they have been living in St. Louis for the past year, teaching at Washington University and creating an exhibition for the museum.
As conceptual artists, Stih and Schnock focus on the concepts of place, identity and memory. In this exhibit, they explore the connections between St. Louis and Germany through items they found in the existing collection of the museum.
Among other things, the exhibit explores the history of a wooden Madonna made in Germany in the 15th century and slipped into the United States to avoid Nazi hands, a model of the German parliament building Reichstag, and the story of an East German spy transplanted in St. Louis by the C.I.A.
Stih, Schnock and Saint Louis Art Museum Curator Tricia Paik were in-studio guests on today's show. Dan Reich, curator of the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center in St. Louis, joined the conversation by phone.
Twenty years ago Stih and Schnock created a Holocaust memorial in the Bavarian Quarters of Berlin. Signs throughout the neighborhood declare Nazi laws prohibiting specific Jewish activities. They placed the signs in key locations in order to be present in the daily life of passers-by.
Lecture & Preview Exhibition
Tuesday, September 24, 2014
6:00 p.m. in the Farell Auditorium at the Saint Louis Art Museum
Currents 107 Exhibition: Renata Stih & Frieder Schnock
Friday, September 27, 2013 - Sunday, January 5, 2014
For more information, visit the Saint Louis Art Museum website.