Up in Arms

28 September–15 December 2019

Event Series

In cooperation with Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien

Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Mariannenplatz 2, 10997 Berlin



Lana Čmajčanin, Ana Hoffner ex-Prvulovic, Regina José Galindo, Jill Gibbon, Vanessa Gravenor, John Heartfield, Sonia Hedstrand, Peter Kennard, Hiwa K., Beatrice Schuett Moumdjian, Dani Ploeger, Walid Raad, Julian Röder, Lorenzo Sandoval, Hito Steyerl, Alma Suljević, Hadas Tapouchi, Cengiz Tekin, Constantine Zlatev


Diana Arce, Forensic Architecture, Linde Bryk, Christine Cynn, Adopt a Revolution, Christian Schliemann, Wendy M. K. Shaw, Aktion Aufschrei – Stoppt den Waffenhandel!

Project group

Ayşe Güngör, Cassandra Mehlhorn, Gabriela Seith, Amalie Sølling-Jørgensen, Johanna Werner

The arms industry is regularly embroiled in controversy when it is revealed that representatives of the arms trade sit on the board of New York’s Whitney Museum, when the suspension of German arms exports to Saudi Arabia is only short term or when the arms trade plays a big part in European border control. The project »Up in Arms« brings these issues into the exhibition space, calls for transparency in the arms trade and highlights its local as well as global connections.

Adopt a Revolution, Aktion Aufschrei – Stoppt den Waffenhandel!, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, Global Net – Stop the Arms Trade, LobbyControl, urgewald

Security, defence, diplomacy – these alleged principles of the arms industry seem initially reasonable and even desirable. Who could object? They are in fact a PR strategy which covers up the unpleasant and conflicting repercussions of the business.

»Up in Arms« has its focus on the downsides of the industry. Through artworks, the project affords a more detailed insight into the arms trade and its often overlooked ramifications. The artist Hito Steyerl investigates the origins of a machine gun bullet that killed a friend, thereby revealing links between the arms industry and the art world. Lana Čmajčanin’s work maps the use of the FN M1910 handgun and shows where this pistol has influenced world history. Other artists have visited armament trade fairs and illustrate their absurdity in various works. The exhibition shows works by artists who have personally encountered weapons and violence alongside material documenting the arms industry’s historical and global network.

Metaphorically, ›Up in Arms‹, the artworks shed light on the arms trade’s network. Its ramifications need to be made more tangible, because security never means the safety of all people, defence is always defence against others and a diplomacy which serves the interests of the arms industry is not a diplomatic solution.

»Up in Arms« is an exhibition and research project that deals with the structures of the local and international arms industry. The exhibition presents the perspectives of artists and their critical analysis of the industry. Additionally, artworks installed in public space - as part of the 2019 »Art in the Underground« competition - and a map published on the project website will draw attention to the main players in the arms industry in Berlin.


Friday, 27 September 2019

»The Fourth Entity«
Performance by Alma Suljević
Exhibition opening

Thursday, 17 October 2019, 19:00
Panel discussion (DE/EN) with cooperation partners and artists

Thursday, 24 October 2019, 18:00
Guided tour with the curators (EN)

Thursday, 7 November 2019, 19:00
»The Learning and Unlearning of Violence« Lecture Performance (EN)
by Vanessa Gravenor
The artist Vanessa Gravenor investigates the long-term effects of military conflicts and focuses her research on linguistic violence as a form of weapon. She takes a critical approach to militancy language in educational books financed by American donors and distributed to Afghan refugees in the 1980s.

A personal experience with violence promted this work: the artist was hit in the attacks in Paris in November 2015, which likewise feeds into the analysis. In the lecture performance she analyses a biographical vocabulary list of her PTSD therapy. Beyond her own experience she also clarifies the connection between this biographical experience and the effects of financing war in the larger political context. She herself uses linguistic means to understand the feedback loops of the war on terror today.

Thursday, 21 November 2019, 19:00
Forensic Architecture and Praxis Films »Triple-Chaser« followed by a talk (DE/EN) including Ana Hoffner ex-Prvulovic, Linde Bryk (ECCHR), Wendy M. K. Shaw (Freie Universität Berlin)
At the Whitney Museum in New York, the year of 2019 was marked by months of protests and boycotts by artists. The reason for this was the revelation that Warren B. Kanders, vice chair of the board of trustees of the museum, was also the owner of Safariland, the company producing the tear gas Triple-Chaser. The tear gas is used by police and military worldwide against protesters and by doing so they repeatedly violate human rights.
The media attention and the continuing resistance of the artists led Kanders to step down from his position at the Whitney Museum.

This issue raises many questions: How powerful are artistic means of expressing criticism of the arms industry? Do protests by artists bring about change, even beyond the art world? What influence does the armaments industry exert through art sponsorship?

In the video work »Triple-Chaser« Forensic Architecture, together with activists, examines the traces of the tear gas of the same name. After the film screening, a panel discussion will provide the space to discuss the close links between the arms industry and the art world as well as forms of artistic resistance against the arms industry.

Sunday, 24 November 2019, 15:00
Guided tour with the curators (DE)

Thursday, 12 December 2019, 19:00
»Shooting Ourselves«
Film screening followed by a talk (EN) with Christine Cynn (Director) and Christian Schliemann (ECCHR)
The film »Shooting Ourselves« deals with the lives of 13 people who are affected by the arms trade in different ways. The protagonists include a helicopter pilot of the Indian army, a peace activist from Oberndorf, a human rights lawyer who works for the bereaved of people who have been victims of drone attacks and a ›Security Systems Developer‹ who offers armoured, unmanned and remote-controlled vehicles that can be equipped with cameras and - if desired - ammunition. All of them gathered in 2013 to contribute to Rimini Protocol’s participatory play »Situation Rooms«. This is where they describe their individual experiences with weapons.
In »Shooting Ourselves«, director Christine Cynn captures not only how the protagonists reenact these experiences but also takes a look behind the scenes of the theatre production. The conversations there range from discussions about so-called ›collateral damage‹ to jokes about diplomatic picnics on Osama Bin Laden’s abandoned estate. The various perspectives and experiences that become apparent here make it evident how differently people can be affected by the arms trade.
The screening will be followed by a discussion with director Christine Cynn (director) and Christian Schliemann of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR).

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Guided tour with the curators (EN)
Participatory Performance (DE/EN)
Nonpartisan Political Karaoke by Diana Arce
»Politaoke« is a nonpartisan political speech karaoke bar. Artist Diana Arce invites participants to slip into the role of decision-makers themselves and give current speeches by German or international politicians. Participants can choose from a collection of speeches that, for example, set the course, substantiate diplomatic decisions, or define legal frameworks for arms exports.

»Not all of us can sing, but some of us still have a voice – do you? When democracy is not accessible, Politaoke delivers instant civic gratification!«

Want to request a speech? We’ve got a form for that!

Guided tours with LobbyControl
On Saturdays and Sundays, 14:00

DE: 19 / 27 October 2019
EN: 13 /20 /26 October 2019

Financed by