The OLGA BENARIO Gallery’s History
The OLGA BENARIO Gallery was founded by West-Berlin’s Vereinigung der Verfolgten des Naziregimes/Verband der Antifaschisten (Association of Victims of Nazi Persecution/Association of Anti-Fascists VVN/VdA) and presented its first exhibition on February 12, 1984 in a space on Boddinstrasse (in the Neukölln district of Berlin).
The gallery was named based on three criteria. First, one wanted to honour an antifascist woman. Second, she had to have a connection with the Berlin district of Neukölln. And, third, she had to be an internationalist. Daily life under Nazi rule and the anti-fascist resistance were the main topics of the gallery’s first exhibitions. This was the result of the fact that a great number of VVN/VdA’s members had been eyewitnesses of that era and had fought, mostly as members of the Communist Party, against Hitler’s regime.
When the tenancy agreement for the gallery’s space in Boddinstraße terminated and the VVN/VdA’s subsidies from the GDR stopped, the OLGA BENARIO Gallery found a new space in Neukölln’s Weserstrasse, where it was run in cooperation with the Chilean restaurant “Orlando.” This cooperation ended in 2001, and the OLGA BENARIO Gallery moved to its current space in Neukölln’s Richardstraße.
The OLGA BENARIO Gallery is not a “traditional” gallery but an autonomous project. It doesn’t pursue any commercial aims and it isn’t backed by public funds. Its activities are supported by donations and the exhibitions’ visitors.
The gallery’s exhibitions inform visitors on subjects of historical and contemporary interest. During the exhibitions, there are accompanying lectures and films, which open discussion and exchange on the exhibition’s subject.
The gallery’s exhibitions normally run from six to eight weeks.
The gallery’s activities result from the work of the Galerieforum, a group of activists who were initially a team of VVN/VdA members. Since the end of the 1980’s, this group has opened up to other people, resulting in a wider range of exhibitions: on migration and asylum, anti-racism, the women’s movement, union politics, and so on.
The Galerieforum is an informal association that organises the exhibitions, the lectures, the events, and the gallery’s publicity.
The Galerieforum’s meetings take place once a month.