At the beginning of the 90's, there was no question occupying the minds of the travelling circus of the intellectual political elite more passionately than that of the intellectual position of Central Europe. Conjecturing as to just where the new centre of Europe was ran the debate from Bucharest to Warsaw, from Trieste through Vienna to Prague. It is clearly understandable that, especially in times of bold, unforeseeable reforms, nobody wants to remain standing on the edge. The edge is considered to be a danger zone. It is common knowledge that a particularly biting wind blows there, and the shadow play in which the white elements are exceptionally white and the black exceptionally black startles those lingering there.
No explanation is required for this in Germany. For more than half a century, they have been on the outermost edge, whether this position is viewed from Washington or from Moscow. Suddenly, in the last decade of the last century, they became the centre. It is without a doubt that it was on their own initiative, yet to a greater extent, it is rather owing to the fortunate circumstances of international politics. The expectations placed on the centre should not be too high, yet weighty impulses are expected from the core, those which spread wave-like to the edges. In the words of Immanuel Kant, the centre is not exalted, nor is it beautiful; it is, however, indispensable. The centre is a point we cannot escape. A new position, even if it is perhaps only an old position regained, requires provisions differentiating the past from the present. It demands a different cut, a more resolute appearance, a bolder pattern, a more clearly-defined tone. In any case it demands a new perspective. Does Germany understand the art of this pose?
We can decide this upon seeing the pictures of Regina Schmeken, which show well-known events, personalities and locations, arresting time in order to avert it. The photographic and artist links subjects with her particular selection of images that hover around the catchword of "centre", transmitting a novel interpretation and approach to things through her unusual and surprising pairings. Regina Schmeken, as a virtuoso, masters the visual world of these centres, playing with the notion, provoking and, most of all, entertaining herself and the viewers of her images equally.
The exhibition titled Die neue Mitte (The New Centre) was opened on 1 October 2001 at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, and since autumn 2002 it has been presented as a touring exhibition by the Goethe-Institut. (after Tilman Spengler)