DESSA: Remembering Nathan Israel, 2002, Collage, 70x50 cm, copyright DESSA

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DESSA: The Nathan Israel department store 1815 - 1939. An artist researches history.

Dessa: StolzesteineThe history of N. Israel's department store, formerly located in ancient Berlin opposite the Rotes Rathaus town hall, has been a subject of the artistic work of DESSA - Deborah Sharon Abeles. The company, founded by Nathan Israel on Jüdenstrasse, soon expanded and relocated to Spandauer Strasse. Around the turn of the century the representative building by architect Ludwig Engel was erected, which was then expanded step by step. The flourishing company, which had been family-owned for four generations, had to be sold in 1939, and the family was forced to leave Germany. The building block was destroyed in World War II.
The N. Israel department store was characterized by its commitment to its employees. The company founded its own health and old age insurance for its employees, offered them leisure activities at clubs, and allowed the employees the opportunity to further educate themselves by means of lectures and courses.
In 1925 the company opened the first private business school in Germany so as to be able to train their staff themselves. The social responsibility and community spirit of the owners went way beyond mere company-related matters.
Especially noteworthy were the actions of Wilfrid Israel who determinedly resisted the National Socialists' requests to dismiss Jewish employees. After his emigration he helped Jews living in Germany to flee the country.
One of the yearly books published by the department store inspired DESSA to pay homage to the philanthropy of the department store owners. For the 200th anniversary of the department store, a new painting series was created under the name "Stones-of-pride". DESSA's intense occupation with the life and work of the Israel family results from her own Jewish family history. Her works are now shown for the first time in Berlin in the context of a museum exhibition on history.

Invitation pdf <Download>

The catalogue is published parallel to the exhibition:

Deborah Sharon Abeles DESSA 
Stolzesteine – Stones-of-Pride

Homage to the N. Israel department store, Berlin

The catalogue is available in the Mitte Museum for 20.00 €.
Further information:   Hentrich & Hentrich Verlag

Accompanying programme:


Sun | 4 October 2015 | 11 a.m.
Tour of the exhibition with the artist DESSA

Sun | 1 November 2015 | 3 p.m.
Art and commemoration - The artist DESSA and literary scholar Prof. Holt Meyer (Erfurt University) in a discussion
What role can the creative work of a visual artist play as an act of commemoration, if the actual object of commemoration no longer exists? If the people remembering a certain event are no longer around? How is the picture defined in such a case? What can it not be (any longer)? Is it a sepulchral monument to those people or things no longer around or rather a way to bring them back to life?

Tue | 1 December 2015 | 7 p.m.
The grounds of the Nathan Israel department store. A walk through the history of the Southern part of the old city of Berlin in the 19th and 20th centuries. Lecture by Dr. Benedikt Goebel

Tue | 10 November 2015 - Tue | 17 November 2015 - Tue | 01 December 2015
Thu | 27 January 2016 - Wed | 10 February 2016 - Wed | 17 February 2016
Each event at 2 p.m.
My Berlin! My history! My collage!
Workshop for children and youths, grades 6 to 12, with artist DESSA

Sun | 24 January 2016 | 2 p.m.
Sun | 21 February 2016 | 2 p.m.
Tour of the exhibition with the artist DESSA

Thu | 25 February 2016 | 6 p.m.
The fashion department stores N. Israel and Herrmann Gerson - Two important figures in the Berlin clothing industry and their families
Lecture by Dr. Gesa Kessemeier

Exhibition dates: 4 October 2015 to 31 March 2016

Opening: Thursday, 1 October 2015, 5 p.m.

We would like to express our gratitude for the support through the


Website: DESSA

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