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Culture

Internet Auction to Fund Controversial Art Exhibition

A controversial exhibition on the Red Army Faction (RAF) terrorist group is to go ahead at Berlin's Institute of Contemporary Art. With state funding off the agenda, it will be financed by a high-profile eBay art sale.

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Doug Aitken will auction his "Girl in Mask" to raise exhibition funds

The show, which has been in the planning stages since summer 2002, quickly became the subject of some seriously heated debate, with politicians yelping that the exhibition with the working title "RAF Myth" would glorify Germany's now disbanded RAF group.

Such was the furor, that Klaus Biesenbach, founder and former director of Kunst-Werke, the Berlin Institute of Contemporary Art, withdrew an application for €100,000 ($133,000) worth of state funding. With it went the prospect of realizing this particular project sooner rather than later, but Biesenbach was not about to scratch it from the canvas altogether.

Dogged determination

Klaus Biesenbach

Klaus Biesenbach, former director of Berlin's "Kunst-Werke"

Biesenbach vowed at the time that he would find another way to generate the €350,000 he needed to stage the show, and although he flew the Kunst-Werke nest a short time ago to continue feathering his career at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, he has remained true to his word.

Before his departure, he and his team worked through a new concept for the show, gave up the idea of an interdisciplinary artistic-cultural-historical approach in favor of pure art, and returned €45,000 to Berlin's city fund from the first grant they received for the exhibition.

It was a clear stance to take, but didn't exactly free the financial impasse. But now the solution has been found in the ether. Fourteen renowned artists, including Doug Aitken, Monica Bonvicini, Jane and Louise Wilson and Saatchi favorites Dinos and Jake Chapman are to auction pieces of work on eBay and donate the proceeds to the artistic cause.

Going once, going twice

Notre-Dame

Andreas Gursky will participate in the auction.

The online sale kicked off on Sunday and will be open for bids until Dec. 22. The collective reserve price is set at €150,000, but the hope is, of course, that the wealthy world of art buyers will dig much deeper than that.

The baton has now been passed to curator Ellen Blumenstein and playwright Felix Ensslin, the son of RAF terrorist Gudrun Ensslin, and the show, under the new name of "Regarding Terror: The RAF. Exhibition," is due to open its doors on Jan. 29 next year. It will contain work by some 40 different artists, including Jörg Immendorff, Gerhard Richter, Scott King, Joseph Beuys and Sue de Beer, who have dealt with RAF terrorism in their work.

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