… oder kann das weg? Fallstudien zur Nachwende

16 September–7 November 2021

Event Series

nGbK, Oranienstraße 25, 10999 Berlin

Blog: https://nachwendefallstudien.de/


Tina Bara, Nadja Buttendorf, Can Candan, Yvon Chabrowski, Harun Farocki, Anna Zett/Hermann Heisig, Bernd Hiepe, Margret Hoppe, Susanne Huth, Silke Koch, Eric Meier, Minh Duc Pham, Andrea Pichl, David Polzin, Sabine Reinfeld, Sophie Reinhold, Elske Rosenfeld, Tucké Royale, Rainer Görß/Ania Rudolph, Wolfgang H Scholz, Gabriele Stötzer, Achim Valbracht, Anna Voswinckel, Suse Weber, Wilhelm Klotzek/Peter Woelck


Minh Duc Pham, Tucké Royale, Beatrice E. Stammer, Gabriele Stötzer

Project group

Bakri Bakhit, Elske Rosenfeld, Wolfgang H Scholz, Anna Voswinckel, Suse Weber

Through artistic and curatorial case studies, this research and exhibition project investigates the »Nachwende« (»post-unification«) – the 1990s, a time period initially assumed to be a transitional phase. The project explores how artists adapted their working methods to the new situation after 1990, which methods and motifs became illegible in this »East-West« clash of art concepts and systems, and how these are being taken up again by younger generations. The exhibition is devoted to East German artists’ search for a new and distinctive vocabulary, a search that continues – in a »Nachwende« period understood in the broader sense to extend to this day.

Indications of this continuing »Nachwende« can be found in the ways East German artists categorise themselves: exemplified by their self-identification as first, second, third generation artists or in their ironic self-designations as Ossi, ex-Ossi, or Wossi, as well as by distinctions such as transfer, exile, and quota East Germans (Yana Milev). These self-categorisations have recently broadened to include comparisons of East German and migrant experiences (Naika Foroutan) and have been rendered more complex by the description of East Germans as inherently heterogeneous (Peggy Piesche, among others).

In this process of self-determination, also experienced and mediated by artists, recurring methods can be identified over the last three decades: the use of biographical references, recourse to private archives and work inventories of the artists’ own families, and the use of documents from state surveillance as now publicly accessible – if not always unproblematic – sources. Such assertions of the artistic self are often preceded by various experiences of overwriting: through the deliberate destruction and non-recording of works, through their devaluation into mere historical artefacts, through the dissolution of archives and the disappearance of works into storage. Artists have also appropriated this kind of overwriting as a technique - the invention of fictitious or individual sources or by transferring these methods into their own artistic practices.

The regularly updated blog is a digital supplement to the exhibition; it contains descriptions of the case studies and the program for each week as well as further research materials and a series of texts and conversations created over the course of the project.

Case studies
Over the course of the two-year project, eight thematic case studies emerged, their foci and titles distilled through processes of collaborative research. From these case studies, seven are assigned to one exhibition week each:
»Paradies Leerstand« [Paradise vacancy] (16–22 Sept), »Muttiland Revisited« (23–29 Sept), »Marlboro Man« (30 Sept–6 Oct), »Stasisauna« (7–13 Oct), »Depot Bilderstau« [Depot image backlog] (14–20 Oct), »Wessiwerdung« [Becoming Wessi] (21–27 Oct), »Ossiwerdung« [Becoming Ossi] (28 Oct–7 Nov).

Without claiming to map or depict the art of the Nachwende in its entirety, the case studies point to an ongoing search for a new and distinct language, as well as for new images and methods. Constellations of thematically linked works can be seen as prompts for a conversation about artistic practices of the last decades.

As an additional case study spanning several weeks, the exhibition focuses on the institutional history of the nGbK itself – in its (not entirely conflict-free) pioneering role as a mediator between West German and East German art: a survey of all exhibitions related to the GDR since the nGbK’s founding in 1969 highlights the shifting areas of encounter. Developed by Anna Voswinckel in collaboration with Beatrice E. Stammer, a documentation of the nGbK exhibition Außerhalb von Mittendrin [Outside of Centre] (1991), an interdisciplinary exhibition, film, literature, music, and theatre project that offered a feminist perspective on the Nachwende, circulates through the exhibition.

The exhibition scenography »Nachwende-Klappe« developed by Suse Weber (*1970, Leipzig) is an emblematic methodological landscape that explicitly unfolds certain recurring discourses and metaphors from the art field from 1990 onwards. It refers, for example, to the 1990s art-theoretical debates on the »white cube« versus the »black box« as a fundamental feature distinguishing between the presentation of Eastern and Western European art, to green-screen technology as a commonly used tool for the exchange of figures and backgrounds, or to the frequent obliteration of GDR history in cultural spaces and institutions. Suse Weber’s opening up of her own work archive, prepared expressly for the exhibition, to be pasted over, renders the »Nachwende-Klappe« a space of a deliberately chosen practice of overwriting. Intended as a counter-methodology, this scenography activates a series of movements by means of which the exhibition transforms itself over the seven weeks. The works are initially situated in a storage depot, from which they are taken and placed in the exhibition space either as temporary hangs or as permanent paste-overs as part of the week-long case studies. The active use of individual »Klappen« (»flaps«) as working spaces for two new productions refers to artistic practices of the »Zweiten Öffentlichkeit der späten DDR« (»Second public sphere of the late GDR«) (Angelika Richter), which did away with the separation between working space and exhibition space. The derivation of the »Nachwende-Klappe«, is expounded in a video by Suse Weber accessible via the blog.


Wednesday, 15 September 2021, 12:00
Soft opening of the exhibition as part of Berlin Art Week 2021

Saturday, 25 September 2021, 14:00
Guided tour through the exhibition with »Miss DDR« (de/en)

Sunday, 26 September 2021, 14:00
Guided tour through the exhibition with »Miss DDR« (de/en)

Wednesday, 29 September 2021, 19:00 + 20:30
Performance »Miss DDR« by Sabine Reinfeld

Sabine Reinfeld (*1976, Leipzig) is producing the performance Miss DDR (2021) as part of her case study »Muttiland Revisited«. The starting point is the theatre production Deutschland einig Muttiland, which was performed by Gina Pietsch and Heide Bartholomäus in 1991 as part of the nGbK exhibition Außerhalb von Mittendrin. Video documentation of the two performers’ rehearsal processes from that time can be seen simultaneously in the exhibition space. In her performance, Reinfeld uses her own body as a projection surface to create the avatar Miss DDR, clad in a skin-tight pink suit with comic-style nail art claws and a cape made of recycled GDR synthetic curtains. This avatar will be assisted by an AI-controlled voice assistant as a contemporaneous stage partner. With her virtual counterpart, Miss DDR attempts to discuss her perceptions of the theatre production of the time and the discourses it addressed – on women in society from the German Empire to reunified Germany after 1990 – to relate these to the present day and to develop emerging utopias. Her own biographical memories are also incorporated into the work alongside the fictional narratives. The result is a medley from the repertoire of Deutschland einig Muttiland, interwoven with other sources such as Bertold Brecht’s poem Alles wandelt sich [Everything changes] or the wording of Paragraph 218, an 1871 law which made abortion a punishable crime, the later West German version of which, in 1990, was supposed to replace the more liberal East German version.

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Public re/deinstallation of the case studies

Guided tour through the exhibition and the case study »Marlboro Man« with artists and curators (de/en)

Monday, 4 October 2021, 20:00
Venue: fsk Kino am Oranienplatz, Segitzdamm 2, 10969 Berlin
Film and talk »NEUBAU« with Tucké Royale and Minh Duc Pham

Film »Neubau«
Buch: Tucké Royale
Regie: Johannes M. Schmit
Germany 2020, 81 minutes

Sommer in der Brandenburger Provinz. Markus ist hin- und hergerissen zwischen der Liebe zu seinen pflegebedürftigen Omas und der Sehnsucht nach einem anderen Leben in Berlin. In Tagträumen erscheint ihm immer häufiger eine Schar schillernder Dämonen als Vorboten einer queeren urbanen Wahlfamilie, die ihn aus seiner Einsamkeit befreit. Als er sich in Duc verliebt, wird alles noch komplizierter. Denn eigentlich stehen in Markus’ Neubauwohnung schon die gepackten Kisten für den Umzug in die große Stadt.

Wo möchte ich leben – und wie? Mit diesen existentiellen Fragen beschäftigen sich Autor/Hauptdarsteller Tucké Royale und Regisseur Johannes M. Schmit in ihrem Debütfilm aus der Sicht eines jungen queeren Mannes in der Uckermark. Und beantworten sie mit einem dezidiert nicht-normativen Lebensentwurf, in dem die Befreiung aus konservativen Vorstellungen von Sexualität und Geschlechterzugehörigkeit ebenso eine Rolle spielen wie Commitment und gegenseitige Fürsorge. Ihr queerer Heimatfilm entstand fernab der großen Metropolen als unabhängige Produktion in einem Künstler_innen-Kollektiv, dem es um ambivalente (Gegen-)Erzählungen und eine »Neue Selbstverständlichkeit« geht. Im Januar 2020 feierte »Neubau« seine Uraufführung im Spielfilm-Wettbewerb des Filmfestivals Max Ophüls Preis. Dort wurde er als Bester Spielfilm ausgezeichnet und dabei von der Jury besonders für seine »Kraft Empathie zu erzeugen« gelobt. Tucké Royale erhielt zudem für sein Buch und Schauspiel den Preis für den gesellschaftlich relevanten Film.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021, 19:00
Presentation »Stasisauna« with Wolfgang H Scholz and Elske Rosenfeld

The case study »Stasisauna« addresses the ways history inscribes itself in the body. The setting and the title refer to the sauna in the basement of Leipzig’s Stasi headquarters, which became Leipzig’s first gay sauna after 1990. Now on the verge of demolition, traces of these two former uses overlap throughout the building. After 1990, the GDR and its ideological and bodily regimes were represented predominantly through the themes of the Stasi, of surveillance and totalitarianism. But bodies also eluded these machineries, releasing dissident desires and movements that were elucidated in the late GDR in works such as the early documentaries of Wolfgang H Scholz. The latter form the starting point of a week-long work process in the exhibition space by Elske Rosenfeld (*1974, Halle/Saale) and the artist Wolfgang H Scholz, who now lives in Mexico City and Munich. In the works of both artists, bodies and their movements frequently stand in for a still-missing language for understanding present or historical experiences. Here the working processes of two artists socialized in the GDR but of different generations encounter one another, perhaps influenced in different ways by the experience of different cultures and systems. An artistic, physical-performative exchange culminates in a presentation at the end of the workshop week.

Saturday, 16 October 2021, 14:00 + 17:00
Venue: Linienstraße 137/152
Tour of the U144 Untergrundmuseum with Rainer Görß

Wednesday, 27 October 2021, 19:00
Talk »Außerhalb von Mittendrin« with Beatrice E. Stammer and Gabriele Stötzer (de)
Moderated by Anna Voswinckel

As part of her investigation into the role of the nGbK as a mediator between East and West in the period immediately following the Wende und Nachwende, Anna Voswinckel will moderate a discussion between Beatrice E. Stammer and Gabriele Stötzer. The discussion will focus on the theme of encounter, on questions of visualization and exclusion, and on the lines of development of artistic practice up to the present day.
Supplementary to the talk, the documentary IM STILLEN LAUT (2019) by Therese Koppe will be available on our blog. It is a subtle portrait of the artists Erika Stürmer-Alex and her partner Christine Müller-Stosch.

Monday, 1 November 2021, 16:00–20:30
Assembly »Resonanz« with Anna Zett and Hermann Heisig (de)

For their case study »Ossiwerdung« (Becoming Ossi), the artist and writer Anna Zett and the dancer and choreographer Hermann Heisig invite people involved in the exhibition and interested guests to be part of their next RESONANZ VERSAMMLUNG in the exhibition »… oder kann das weg? Fallstudien zur Nachwende«. The piece is a verbal and non-verbal group improvisation in which they explore the feeling of (post-)socialist unease. Although the gathering is partly run like a workshop, it centres on a participative performance that is structured by simple rules and within which those present organise themselves both in terms of content and, to an extent, in the space.

Since early 2020, as part of a longer-term joint research project, Anna Zett and Hermann Heisig have been developing an improvisation format for small and large groups under the name RESONANZ VERSAMMLUNG (resonance gathering). The format is both their research material and the successive result of this process. The event is framed by a 25-square-metre game board created by wkc on which the positions QUESTION, STORY, RECORDING and DESIGN are embodied by four chairs. The outside is also an active position in the game, allowing those present to switch (back) to specific positions on the board. The game also allows all speech to be paused, giving one’s own experience more space. In the interplay of dialogical narrative and physical improvisation, we experience the post-socialist gathering as a group process of which each individual takes care of the specific time and place. What does the group need right now? What does my gut tell me at this moment? How do my needs connect with what is happening in the group as a whole? What just happened here? What happened overall? RESONANZ VERSAMMLUNG renders these questions audible on the level of experience.

Concept and development: Anna Zett & Hermann Heisig
Performative co-development: Jule Flierl, Kristof Trakal, Anna Stiede, David Polzin, Maru Mushtrieva, Minh Duc Pham, Monika Zimmering, Philipp Goll, Rike Flämig, Ute Waldhausen, et al.
Set design: wkc (Ebba Fransén-Waldhör & Romy Kießling)
Sound design: Tian Rotteveel

Sunday, 7 November 2021, from 15:00
Finissage of the exhibition with artists and curators (de/en)