The signing of the Romanian-German Friendship Treaty 25 years ago opened a new chapter of cultural cooperation between the two countries. The treaty was the result of the political changes in Europe after the events of 1989, when the importance of consolidating concepts such as human rights, democracy and the rule of law were understood to be basic for a better and common future.
This does not mean that Romanian-German cultural events were new in Romania. On the cultural level, the Federal Republic of Germany has made its presence in Romania since 1979, with the establishment of the Goethe-Institut in Bucharest – which had great significance: It was for the first time that the Institute would open its offices in an Eastern European country behind the “iron curtain”. Throughout the years, many cultural events were organized by the German Federal Embassy together with the Goethe-Institut and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Even though the preparations for the inter-cultural events were often very challenging, the cultural exchanges facilitated by the Institute were received positively by the Romanian audience.
After 1989 the demand for German language and interest in German culture became even higher and the scope for cooperation between Romanian and German partners increased manifold. Besides the language training as one major prerequisite of mutual understanding, one main goal of the Goethe-Institute is to bring people together and to support the formation of international networks based on common interest and artistic concepts. Therefore, not only the content and artistic quality of projects are deemed important, but also the partners, whose constant involvement bring a great contribution to the world’s cultural map. This people to people meetings and collaboration allow an understanding of different visions and cultures – which could be seen as a first basis for a meaningful friendship.
This is why projects of the Goethe-Institut are usually based on the cooperation with local cultural partners and are context sensitive. Their aim is to bring together practitioners from both countries, working on similar issues with the interest of exchanging views and learning from each other. It is all about a dynamic and ethical working relationship, which constantly evolves. From the incipient stages of the project until it is put into practice, there are several changes due to teamwork efforts. This is essentially the core of the multiple, intellectually stimulating activities, with an emphasis on the interactive and multidisciplinary character.
One project marking the Anniversary of the Friendship Treaty – the Sound-Art Installation “Inside-Out” that could be heard till September 24th – illustrates this approach quite well: It was discussed with partners from Romania, that sound-art is an important area of cultural expression which is, however, not very present in Romania. So we chose last year to organize a Sound-Art workshop in partnership with the Electroacoustic Music Center of the National Music University in Bucharest and the Experimental Project Association. This project was coordinated by two famous German artists and was a great success. As a follow up, the sound installation project “Inside-Out” was developed for the old centre of Bucharest – a German-Romanian joint effort of two artists – Antje Vowinckel from Germany and Maria Balabaş from Romania, which was partnered by the Bucharest Municipality Museum and the National History Museum of Romania.
Another project focused on language and identity called “Vitrina generatiei nepotilor” (The Grandchildren Generation Showcase) and was developed together with the German minority in Romania. The project started from the question to which extent German language still plays an essential role in the identity shaping of the younger generations belonging to the German minority in Central and Eastern Europe – which obviously plays a role in the bilateral cultural relations between Romania and Germany.
The Goethe-Institut is also active in seconding the special guest presence of Romania at the Leipzig Book Fair 2018. In the run up to this important bilateral event we created the German-Romanian literature blog “DLite” that presents on the one hand contemporary German literature to the Romanian public, and on the other hand provides the German readers with a selection of fresh works from the current Romanian literary scene.
A last example for this way of bilateral cultural collaboration is the prestigious German Film Week, which will be happening for the 12th time this year from November 3rd-9th. Here, a Romanian film critic or cineaste – this year Ozana Oancea – curates German films – allowing a Romanian view on the recent German film production, which makes the selection especially interesting – and we hope to see you at Cinema Eforie soon!
We are very proud that in the years of its presence in Romania the Goethe-Institut has facilitated a mutually beneficial working relation and connection with the Romanian public and between Romanian and German professionals in diverse fields. In many cases, the intellectual and cultural partnership was transcended by the development of an authentic and lasting friendship between those involved in the various bilateral projects. This will have positive results in the process of further European cultural, social and economic development and integration and contributes to the fulfilment of the hopes as laid down in the Treaty of Friendship 25 years ago.