News |VATMH Night 2022: Rooms with a view

Claudia Roth MdB | Foto: Stefanie Loos

Berlin September 8th, 2022 – For this year’s Villa Aurora and Thomas Mann House celebration, the underground hall of the silent green, was transformed into “Räume mit Aussicht” (Rooms with a View). This refers to more than the rooms of the Villa Aurora and the Thomas Mann House in L.A. as Minister of State for Culture and Media, Claudia Roth, who gave the welcoming address that evening, made clear: artists' residencies are "places of encounter, of international exchange, of acquisition of everything we need in a democracy" - because art and culture are not just nice to have, but the voice of a democracy.

Pictures, installations, video-, and audio works, as well as poster editions by Villa Aurora fellows Ulu Braun, Nadine Fecht, Marc Fromm, Anna Sofie Hartmann, Isabelle Stever, Robin Stretz and Sarah Szczesny were presented in the exhibition "Räume mit Aussicht", accompanied with music by Michael Fehr and Rico Baumann as well as by Labour (Farahnaz Hatam and Colin Hacklander) and Rashad Becker.

Claus Leggewie | Foto: Stefanie Loos

Thomas Mann Honorary Fellow Claus Leggewie came as a 'Grishi', a bearer of good news in Albanian custom, and reported on his stay in Los Angeles, on sitcom-like cohabitation with his co-fellows, on donut holes and productive loneliness.

Markus Klimmer | Foto: Stefanie Loos

The ceremony provided an opportunity for VATMH Board Chair Markus Klimmer to highlight the role of the two residencies in addressing and communicating important social trends in California. He also expressed the association's deep gratitude for the outstanding support of institutional supporters over the years.

VATMH said goodbye to two people who have proven invaluable to the development of the organization:

Heike Catherina Mertens | Foto: Stefanie Loos

As managing director of VATMH Heike Catherina Mertens, has brought both the Villa Aurora and the Thomas Mann House to a new level of importance and public perception. Since May 1, she has been a member of the board of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Foundation in Essen.

Nikolai Blaumer | Foto: Stefanie Loos

Posted by the Goethe-Institute, Nikolai Blaumer served as the founding director of the Thomas Mann House and established the TMH as a significant space for debate on the West Coast of the United States; and this despite the COVID pandemic which halted the residency program for an extended period.

Jakob Scherer | Foto: Stefanie Loos

However, a new face was also introduced to the audience: Jakob Scherer took over the management of VATMH in mid-May and outlined the initial objective for the coming months in his inaugural speech: to focus on expanding the outreach of the two residences - also beyond Pacific Palisades and the classic educated middle-class circles. In doing so, he said, it would be important to build on the excellent work being done at the two residencies, which brings along increasingly heightened expectations in Los Angeles.

The visitors were also able to find out who has been selected for scholarships at the Villa Aurora and the Thomas Mann House in the coming year. To the press release ...

The day after the VATMH celebration, the current Villa Aurora and Thomas Mann House stipends and fellows met a the yearly “Get-Together”. The evening started with a roundtable discussion of the Thomas Mann Fellows 2020/21 who discussed among other topics the polarization of societies, the threat to democracy, the representation of BIPoC in US series, global melodrama and the gender pay gap

The talk, led by Shelly Kupferberg and Christian Rabhansl, also ventured behind the scenes at Thomas Mann House and showed what it's like to live for several months in a debate-friendly flat-sharing community in the same neighborhood with Steven Spielberg, Goldie Hawn and other Hollywood notables. The recording of the talk will soon be available on our Youtube channel.

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