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The Other Side of Britain

Britain' young artists are known for their fresh, colourful, and often provocative approach to art. Numerous examples of Young British Art are on show at the "Scene: Britain" art festival in Dortmund.


Taking a second look at Young British Art in Dortmund

Vistors to the 1999 Sensations exhibition may never forget Damien Hirst’s fierce looking tiger shark suspended in formaldehyde. Hirst became known for using "preserved" animals in his art, but also came under severe fire from conservationists and vegetarians for his "babaric" ideas.

Other works on show at the Sensations exhibition were no less provocative such as Hirst's "A Thousand Years" composed of flies, maggots, a cow's head, sugar, and water. Marc Quinn’s "Self," a bust of the artist made from nine pints of his frozen blood and Chris Ofili's work titled "The Holy Virgin Mary", a picture of a black Madonna adorned with elephant dung and sexually-explicit photos were other sensational works.

Despite widespread critiscm - the Sensations exhibition met with such acclaim that it was later regarded as the breakthrough for Britian’s young artists, especially on the European continent.

Generating excitement

The Young British Artists first coalesced in 1988 for the exhibition Freeze, which was presented by 17 students and graduates from the Goldsmiths College art school in London.

Installed in an East End warehouse and imbued with the entrepreneurial spirit of young artists unafraid to take centre stage, Freeze drew public attention to a genre which was soon to establish itself as the Young British Art scene.

More significantly, Freeze generated an excitement in the British art scene which literally buzzed with the Sensations exhibition, and has only gained momentum since.

Dortmund Festival

In the past decades, Britain has become known for its flow of invigorating, colourful and often provocative art, whether in music, sculpture, or literature.

The most recent in British art on show in Germany is "Scene: Britain", the 36th International Culture Festival in Dortmund, which focuses on Great Britain this year. The festival, which takes place at various venues in Dortmund, begins on Thursday.

Susan Kelly

From performances with the Lesbian Vampire Queen of Manchester, Rosie Lugosi, to readings from books by acclaimed authors Fay Weldon, Nick Hornby, Susan Kelly (photo) and Zadie Smith, to a film hommage on Julie Christie, Dortmunds 36th culture festival has a lot on offer for German Brit fans and those otherwise unaccustomed to the British artistic sense of humour.

Works by renowned artists Jane and Louise Wilson, Tacita Dean and Mark Wallinger, as well as young talents Janice McLab and Ewan MacDonald are on show at the exhibition "The Gap Show", which deals with social "gaps" in life in Britain, including the Northern Ireland conflict and British socio-cultural relations.

The festival is the first in a row of events in a cultural exchange organised by the state of North Rhein Westphalia, the British Council and the Goethe Institute.

A number of German artists from Nord Rhein Westphalia will have the opportunity to present their art at various venues in Britain in the coming year.

Let's panic later

Hirst's tiger shark may not be on show in Dortmund, nor his sculpture "Philip" – a skinned bull’s head suspended in formaldehyde.

But "Scene: Britain", with art on show such as the exhibition "Let’s panic Later" - which foucuses on emotional turmoil - is due to be just as exciting.

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