In 1998, the artist Hans Haacke was invited by the Kunstbeirat (Arts Committee) of the Bundestag (German Parliament) to develop a concept for an installation in the northern open-air courtyard of the Reichstag building (seat of the Bundestag). A year later the Kunstbeirat voted in favor of Haacke’s proposal DER BEVÖLKERUNG (To the population). This decision sparked a heated intra-parliamentary discussion, which culminated in a debate by the Bundestag on April 5, 2000, and a vote for the realization of the proposal – with a slim majority.
about „Der Bevölkerung“ (05.04.2000)
At its first presentation on September 7, 1999, the Kunstbeirat closely scrutinized the concept of DER BEVÖLKERUNG. The historical implications of the terms “Volk” (people) and “Bevölkerung” (population), as well as their combination with the notion of “earth” were discussed. A heated discussion took place in the media also about the meaning of the proposed dedication DER BEVÖLKERUNG (To the population), as it refers to the inscription DEM DEUTSCHEN VOLKE (To the German people) inscribed on the pediment of the portico of the Reichstag building. The question was raised whether the Kunstbeirat had the exclusive right to make a decision on an artistic project with fundamental, political implications. An intraparty motion eventually led to an hour-long plenary debate of the Bundestag about Hans Haacke’s project proposal on April 5, 2000.