Frankfurt’s Museum of Modern Electronic Music under fire for lack of inclusivity
The Museum of Modern Electronic Music (MOMEM) had its long awaited opening in Frankfurt on April 6th following multiple delays. The museum, which was first announced in 2015, looks to celebrate the history and future of electronic music through multiple exhibits and immersive installations. The museum opened with an exhibition of techno DJ Sven Väth’s personal archive of art, film, photography, and sound. While MOMEM has been eagerly anticipated by the public and city of Frankfurt, they were slammed on their opening night for an apparent lack of inclusivity.
In an open letter addressed to the City of Frankfurt, international network of AFAB, non-binary, and woman* electronic musicians and creatives female:pressure called out the museum for failing to recognise black and queer pioneers in techno. “With great irritation we have taken note of the events for the opening of MOMEM – Museum of Modern Electronic Music in Frankfurt,” the letter reads, and points out that MOMEM’s opening exhibition exclusively featured cis-men while their board of directors are all male. In the letter, female:pressure goes on to criticise MOMEM’s opening night invitation, sent from the Magistrate of The City of Frankfurt, which suggests Frankfurt as the “origin” place of techno.
Historically, this is incorrect. Techno’s roots can be traced back to black and queer American pioneers who established the form in key cities, most notably Detroit, Chicago, and New York. While techno did arise simultaneously in Europe (Germany, in particular) the sound was markedly distinct and what Germany recognises as techno today comes from their assimilation of Detroit’s sound into their own cannon. “Should the claim be a pure marketing measure, it inadmissibly exploits the cultures of people with histories of migration and oppression by marginalising their achievements,” female:pressure point out in their letter. “This also repeats the economic exploitation experienced by protagonists of the early techno & house scene in Germany/Europe.”
Since the official announcement of its opening, little has been disclosed regarding the exhibits at MOMEM beyond Väth’s inaugural exhibition. Their website however, does include the statement: “First Things First: Black Music Matters,” which female:pressure points out could read as a strategic move on MOMEM’s part without any concrete acknowledgement of black and POC pioneers. Directly addressed to Frankfurt’s mayor Peter Feldmann and the city’s cultural director Dr. Ina Hartwig, the letter notes how female:pressure are “shocked that in an event that is extensively funded by the city and the Cultural Office of Frankfurt and of such importance for the city, the manifold achievements of women and non-binary artists in and for the history of electronic music are ignored in such a way.”
Speaking to Resident Advisor, a spokesperson from female:pressure said the next steps would be for MOMEM’s board to address the situation and remedy it as per their letter. There has been no comment from MOMEM, though DJ Franziska Berns was added to the museum’s opening event on the day as the only female artist on the lineup.
Read female:pressure’s full open letter here. Watch a video going inside MOMEM and its opening event from Hit Radio Frankfurt below.