Following an old Christian tradition, the altar of St. Matthäus-Kirche in the Kulturforum will be veiled during Holy Week 2014. This year, instead of the usual Lenten sheet, there will be 3,500 Ethiopian shoe shine boxes covering the altar.

2. BERLINER GLANZWERKE - in cooperation with Stiftung St. Matthäus, Kulturstiftung der Evangelischen Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz

April 13 to April 18, 2014
All events at a glance

St. Matthäus-Kirche im Kulturforum
Matthäikirchplatz - 10785 Berlin-Tiergarten

In almost no other country worldwide the number of shoe shiners is as high in relation to the whole population as in Ethiopia. In the metropolis Addis Abeba alone, inhabited by millions of people, an estimated 30,000 shoe shiners work hard every day. They are part of the city landscape; you can meet them at every corner, equipped with a shoe shine box made of used package wood to keep the necessary utensils for shining shoes.

The Ethiopian shoe shiners are mainly teenage boys, with a rising number of girls, who need the income to fund their education. In Ethiopia, the school system is divided into three shifts: mornings, afternoons and evenings. This allows the shoe shiners to pursue a job as well as their education.

In Ethiopia, the shoe shiner and his (or her) box are called „Listro“, derived from the Italian word „Lustro“ which means „making something shine, doing shining work“. This affectionate and even tender name stands in blatant contradiction with the societal disregard the Listros encounter every day. They belong to the parias in the Ethiopian society. Founded in 2003 by former Listro Dawit Shanko, LISTROS Association aims at improving the social standing of Listros and raise recognition for their self-initiative.

" Love for me, Respect for my Work“ - this quote by Listro has become the initiative's motto.

Art and other creative disciplines became instruments in LISTROS' campaigns to pay tribute to the Listros. Artists were the first who got involved. More than 150 painters, sculptors, designers, movie makers, photographers, architects, musicians and dancers have dedicated works to the Listros. More than 50 exhibitions in Ethiopia and Germany, 150 shoe shine stands as „city furniture“ in Ethiopia, an architecture competition, 10 idea competitions in Ethiopia and Germany, 2 books, one movie about five shoe shiners in Addis Abeba, one master's thesis about Listros in Ethiopia and another thesis about living conditions of Listros in Addis Abeba are the most important activities LISTROS has undertaken in the last 10 years.

For the 1. BERLINER GLANZWERKE 2010 – an exhibition at the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, Berlin – 3,500 Listros in Addis Abeba exchanged their shoe shine boxes for new ones. They wrote „Letters to the World“ and put them in their old boxes.

By the name of „MOVING BOXES“, the "Letters to the World" and the corresponding shoe shine boxes have been presented in several installations: In 2010, they travelled from Addis Ababa to Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, passing Djibouti, Hamburg and Poland. There have been several installations at GALERIE LISTROS, they were taken to the art fair Berliner Liste in 2013 and will now be presented at St. Matthäus-Kirche, which is the cultural center of Stiftung St. Matthäus, Evangelische Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz.

The veiling of the altar in St. Matthäus-Kirche is the center piece of 2. BERLINER GLANZWERKE. Ethiopian teenagers are given a voice in Berlin through this installation of shoe shine boxes and through the accompanying exhibition of „Letters to the World“. During the opening event, actor Benno Fürmann will read from some letters.

The GALERIE LISTROS has shown many art exhibitions, some of them in Addis Abeba. Highlights included the visit of German presidents Horst Köhler and Christian Wulff. Horst Köhler left the following entry in the visitors' book: „We all can be Listros, let's risk it.“ Wulff took the risk and at the opening of the 1. BERLINER GLANZWERKE at Potsdamer Platz Arkaden described himself as a Listro, because he earned his first money by cleaning car windscreens as an eight-year-old boy. During his speech, Wulff also pointed out that former Brazilian president Luiz Inacia Lula da Silva used to work as a shoe shiner in his youth, just like Bolivian president Evo Morales, Malcolm and Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed.

Events at St. Matthäus-Kirche

Sunday, April 13, 18:00 hrs

Tuesday, April 15, 18:00 hrs
Stepping - Out of the Box

Wednesday, April 16, 18:00 hrs
Verborgene Heilige - Religion trifft Listros

Thursday, April 17, 18:00 hrs
Matthäus Passion

Friday, April 18, 14:00 hrs
Johannes Passion

Friday, April 18, 18:00 hrs
hORA am Karfreitag

Installation, Exhibition, Video
Tuesday, April 15 thru Friday, April 18 between 11 and 18 hrs

Organ Recital
Tuesday, April 15 thru Friday, April 18, 12.30 bis ca. 12.50 hrs

Event Venue
St. Matthäus-Kirche im Kulturforum | Matthäikirchplatz | 10785 Berlin-Tiergarten