The Project

A country’s flag has the ability to invoke a disparate set of sentiments: from pride to nostalgia, nationalism to racism  among others. Whether being hoisted up a pole, adorning the clothes and faces of sports enthusiasts or being set alight by racial extremists, a nation’s flag is a powerful, yet polarizing symbol.

The ongoing project Farbwerte – SchwarzRotGold (Color Values – BlackRedGold) is concerned with questions surrounding German identity and its respective forms of public display. Therefore international designers and artists are given the task of incorporating the German flag into their artwork, using this public object as a medium to illustrate a personal story or point of view. In addition Robert Eysoldt and photographer Frank Roesner contribute large format portraits of people from various areas of the society.

Anna Reynolds: Germany! The first time I encountered you I was really quite skeptical. I was 15 or 16 when I visited you for the first time because my uncle wanted to cheer me up with a trip. We walked along a long street of shops and I noticed how inattentive you are. Because I spend much attention to detail, I found it very disturbing that no one made eye contact with me, although I felt your eyes upon me from every direction – as if you were trying to avoid it at all costs. However hard I tried to catch your eye, I never ever succeeded. I was attracted to you when we met for the second time. It was a stormy affair from the start. We couldn’t keep our hands off each other, but I soon saw through you, and your insecurities became more and more obvious. *Anna Reynolds comes from Ghana. Drew Graham: During my first visit to Germany in the summer of 2001, a colleague of mine gave me the following advice: Do not talk about the war or Hitler and to avoid irony because Germans just don’t get it. While this advice for the most part is untrue, I was still very cautious during certain conversations regarding the past. I think the German people have a terrific sense of humor and joy of life that is far from what I had previously imagined, however, coming from a country where it is quite normal to wave the national flag and show great pride in who we are as a nation, I was surprised as to how older Germans reacted to the younger generation about being so open with pride of flag and country during the 2006 World Cup. As a foreigner who has spent a lot of time in Germany over the years, I found this to be an interesting scenario to observe and compare with my own homeland. *Drew Graham comes from Australia. Jeannette Ladewig: Harald Jäger opened the barrier at the Bornholmer Straße border crossing on November 9th, 1989. His brave decision opened the prison gates for us East Germans. One evening I was sitting watching TV in my parents’ house in Schorfheide. The next day everything had changed. West Germany, the enemy of the people, was beckoning to us from beyond the wall, waving a DM 100 note. A few weeks later our civics lessons came to an end, replaced with classes in politics. Instead of a polytechnic, the college I attended was now referred to as a secondary school and the curriculum was changed in an instant. We also had to learn that the proper German word for chicken was not “Broiler”, but “Hähnchen”. I have known two social systems and have lived through two currency unions. I associate Germany with change and that’s what gives us the opportunity to be open to changes for the better. If we can manage this, I will be able to say that I am proud to be German. Nihat Turan: When I think of you, I feel safe and secure. I can always rely on you. You give me the freedom to think and to be, to live my life the way I want to. Even though there are always people who believe that I don’t belong here, your resistance to this attitude fills me with pride and joy. My greatest good fortune is that my parents were able to set up a new home among you over 30 years ago. You are my homeland. *Nihats parents came from Turkey. Wolfgang Nowak: Other nations may be more relaxed in their attitude to their national flag than the generation of Germans I belong to. Flags are kept as precious relics in regimental museums, sometimes stained with the blood of proud lieutenants who protected the flag with their dying bodies in countless battles. They gave their lives for the flag, as did the deserters who ran away from it. The flag fluttered in front of my ancestors, who followed it into battle during the First World War. The swastika flag became a symbol of death and annihilation. “Stern” magazine carries photos of the coffins of fallen solders draped in the flag. A little boy touches the flag that cover’s his father’s casket. He will be allowed to take this home with him. As a lieutenant in the army, I frequently stood in front of the flag while new recruits were sworn in. In the course of operational exercises during the Cold War I found out what a real war would have meant for the recruits. The flag conceals death. The death of a hero to whom the flag belongs suggests to us that it is possible to die and yet live on. It has become fashionable for German politicians to display the national flag behind their desks. Their unconscious unease is concealed behind the European flag placed next to it. I am skeptical about what it is that flags conceal. Olaf Hajek: The history lessons at secondary school preached the concept of guilt and a couple of years as a teenager in Holland (still living with my parents) didn’t do much to raise my “self-confidence as a German”. Nonetheless, after I finished my studies and had spent two years in Amsterdam, I decided to move to Berlin. The experiences I gathered in Berlin at that time certainly changed my relationship with “being German”. Although I am still not proud of being German, Berlin has given me a picture of how a Germany I have only dreamed of might look in reality - and I really do experience fleeting moments of pride when I am on my travels and hear how people speak with enthusiasm of my native country. Frederike Meyer: As far as I am concerned, the Germans are happy to be seen with their flag, but no one wants to be the one to take the first step. My dress reflects this idea. If you stand still, it looks black, but the more you move, the more colorful it becomes. *Frederike Meyer is a student at a fashion school in Berlin. She made the dress she is wearing in the photograph from original flag silk.

Robert Eysoldt: „The project „Farbwerte – SchwarzRotGold“ reflects skepticism and enthusiasm and the resulting variety of standpoints and opinions. The diversity of the objects, images and the respective texts cause a creative impulse necessary for reflection and discourse.“

Farbwerte – SchwarzRotGold Exhibition in Berlin

On October 1st, 2009 the first Farbwerte – SchwarzRotGold exhibition successfully held its grand opening in Berlin. Nearly a thousand visitors saw over 140 objects and prints dealing with the German flag some of which were perceived as provocative, some as curiosities and others as an unique approach to a national symbol.

Farbwerte – SchwarzRotGold in China

2010 Farbwerte – SchwarzRotGold kicked-off its activities in China with an opening reception at M50 Creative Space in Shanghai. In May 2010 Farbwerte was invited by the German Pavilion EXPO 2010.

Till today there have been projects and exhibitions in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Tehran, Jakarta, Muscat, Athen, Skopje, Dhaka and Berlin.

Encouraged by the success of the project so far we look for partners to foster our ongoing activities.

In October 2011, the new Farbwerte-Pop-Up Gallery was launched at Blooom/ART.FAIR in Cologne. With the sale of the work we ensure the ongoing and future projects.

Interview with Robert Eysoldt

Farbwerte Presentation @ Issuu

Comments about the project Farbwerte – SchwarzRotGold

Gudrun Steinacker – Ambassador of Germany in Skopje, Macedonia: “Farbwerte is an excellent example of how to deal with a national symbol, the German national flag, in a creative, imaginative as well as critical manner.”

Bernd Erbel – Ambassador of Germany in Tehran, Iran: “Farbwerte ​​turns the cliché of the ‘typical German’ on its head.”

Dr. Norbert Baas – Ambassador of Germany in Jakarta, Indonesia: “I was impressed by the playful yet thoughtful approach of Farbwerte. The diversity of the individual characters presented create an immediate understanding of how Germany is today.”

Lutz Engelke, Triad Berlin: “The first exhibition was a very special political statement. Being a dialog with the flag as the national symbol at first sight, visitors could explore the depth of German identity. 20 years after the wall came down. Farbwerte has closed the gap between the pathos of political speeches and the images of a celebrating nation during the world soccer championship in 2006. An exhibition about and for modern Germans reflecting on the message of Schwarz Rot Gold in day to day life. Farbwerte means to learn more about Germany.”

Josef Krieg, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “Would a Creative Director have initiated a project involving the German flag 20 years ago? Unheard of! But in 2009 Robert Eysoldt invites various people from Germany and abroad to reflect their personal relationship towards this national symbol. And the unprecedented happens: they simply do it. This experiment has been successful, because it is unusual, sometimes disturbing but always surprising – visitors react bewildered, they reflect, smile and they begin a discourse. More one can’t possible want.”

Milena Preradovic, N24: “Before anything else: not only did I like the exhibition – I felt appreciation. And that is a lot being surrounded by German flags. The images have released some parts of my cemented education. And the showed me, that a flag’s meaning is only what we make of it.
PS: I found myself smiling at some of the prints. Better said: I smiled back. And that can only be a good sign.”

About the Initiator and Creative Director

Robert Eysoldt studied Communication and Media and started his professional career in 1989 at the Cologne-based broadcaster RTL. In 1996 he was asked by RTL to found the profit centre „House of Promotion – Agency for Marketing, Promotion und Design“.

After leaving RTL in 2001 Robert Eysoldt worked as a senior consultant for various broadcasters and production companies in Berlin. From 2003 to 2006 he was Director TV at Universal Music Berlin being instrumental in the development of new content formats.

Since 2006 he has worked as a senior consultant and project developer for the Berlin-based agency Triad. Robert is member of the board of Create Berlin e.V. and all2gethernow e.V.

About the Photographer who photographed the portraits:

Frank Roesner has studied Philosophy, German Science and Political Science in Madrid, Vienna and Cologne. He was founder and CEO of various media companies and decided about 10 years ago to make his passion his profession.

Starting out as an artist under the pseudonym Lui Roq he soon began to work on commercial projects like (company-) portraits, documentaries and books. Today Lui Roq’s prints and portfolios are found in private as well as public collections. As a freelance professional he has worked for clients like Bertelsmann Stiftung, European Space Agency, DHL, Amnesty International, Triad Berlin, Bizanga Int among others. For further info please visit: www.luiroq.com

“GoSee” about the project Farbwerte – SchwarzRotGold (Color Values – BlackRedGold)

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