Die Gabe - The Gift

Museum of Modern Literature, Marbach/2016

The exhibition »The Gift« is about an essential condition of the German Literature Archive’s (DLA) own work. Its nationally unique collection stems from donors and patrons that have enabled the research and exhibition work with acquisition funds or the donation of an inheritance, since the DLA’s foundation in 1955. The exhibition shows the often complex links between works, authors and donors. In gratitude for this civil engagement the exhibition also allows a glimpse behind the scenes of museal work. The exhibition recounts the different motivations of donating, it talks about giving, appreciation, reciprocation, but also about pleading and the relationship between donor and donee.

The exhibition design deals with this complex mesh of relations. Covers hide the original exhibition furniture. Cut-outs in these covers reveal a glance on the presented gift. Exhibits underneath bell jars set highlights. Small archive cards are used for captions and emphasise the duality between depositing and exposing. A neon sign hanging from the ceiling introduces the individual chapters of the exhibition. It creates a contrast to the exhibits, which are mainly dominated by printed writing, and represents a neutral tier between the giving and taking of the literature archive and its donors.