Project 28: Pritzen Art Landscape

Art on the island

At one time, the centuries-old village of Pritzen was given up as a lost cause. The lignite mining machinery had encircled the village as if with a pair of compasses. Pritzen was standing virtually empty and almost completely surrounded by a dusty moon landscape; and it was scheduled to be demolished. A few people were still holding out there when the demolition was unexpectedly halted. Pritzen now stands on a peninsula in a growing lake. Life is returning to the village, which is experiencing a renaissance as a centre of art.


Lignite has been mined in the Pritzen area for almost sixty years, and the Greifenhain open-cast mine took its toll, destroying neighbouring villages like Buchholz and Neudorf. The road to Altdöbern was swallowed up by the open-cast mine, and Pritzen and its historical cobble stone church were also scheduled to be demolished by 1995. Most of the 480 inhabitants had already left the village. In 1987, the cemetery was largely relocated, and the church was dismantled stone by stone so it could be rebuilt in the panel construction development in Spremberg, where the village’s inhabitants were to be housed. In 1992, when it was decided to stop the mining operation, about three quarters of Pritzen’s houses had already been demolished.
By then, only thirty inhabitants were left. Could there ever be a future for this remnant of a village? With its most important road – the road to neighbouring Altdöbern – now leading nowhere, Pritzen was cut off from the world. But the remaining inhabitants of Pritzen were rewarded for their persistence after all, as a mine dump road was extended to reconnect Pritzen with Altdöbern – albeit with a considerable detour. Pritzen also had a church tower again; its own original church remained in Spremberg, but the wooden church tower from the vanished village of Wolkenhain was saved from the open-cast mine in Welzow and set up again in Pritzen. Two European Biennales took place here in 1993 and 1995 respectively; international artists were inspired by the »transitional landscape« and the special atmosphere of this once seemingly dead village to create poetic sculptures and installations. Scattered around the village and throughout the surrounding landscape, the artworks gave Pritzen a very special ambience.

Since 1998, the former Greifenhain open-cast mine has been flooded. By 2017, it will be the Lake Altdöbern and Pritzen will be a lakeside town. Erstwhile inhabitants of the town have returned. Their children and new citizens are also settling here, building new houses. Life is returning to a village that everyone thought was dead.


The IBA’s main aim is to open up the village’s creative potential to inhabitants and visitors. In 2002, the IBA converted the Art Nouveau yellow brick hall next to the guesthouse (which no longer exists) into a town hall, and helped find a leaseholder for the new guesthouse. Today, the town hall is a cultural centre put to all sorts of uses. Local inhabitants, artists and visitors meet up here for events and discussions. The IBA’s numerous cultural events have made the community a well-known venue for art and culture. In 2003, the Kunstscheune Pritzen e.V. association was founded, and went on to create another space for art and culture in an old barn. The Kunstscheune (art barn) serves as an exhibition space, a studio, and a venue for celebrations.

The students involved in the IBA held several workshops in the village. One result of this was a design for a »Sehzeichen« or »sight mark« – a viewing tower close to the bank. The village’s unique situation in the landscape has inspired several artists and planners. This was where the idea of a floating pontoon to connect the headland with Altdöbern was first suggested – an idea later adopted for the Lake Sedlitz. In 2007, the American landscape architect Charles Jencks developed the idea for a large-scale Land-Art project entitled »Hand/Die Hand.«


The »Pritzen Art Landscape« is a project made up of artistic interventions and impulses. The inspirations from the European biennales are still having an effect on the area, even if some of the installations were temporary. After 2010, the time will be ripe for a new biennale. The Kunstscheune has become an established and enlivening element. Its role in the community was strengthened by making it a studio for artists who are, for instance, given grants to live in the locality for a while.

Download the flyer: Pitzen Art Landscape (1.1 MB)


Bürgerhaus Pritzen, Phone: +49 (0)35751 / 20414

Kunstscheune Pritzen e.V.
Matthias Heinrich, Phone: +49 (0)30-37006434

Our partners

Kunstscheune Pritzen e.V.
Amt Altdöbern


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last update: 1/26/2017 13:13