Artistic Research at the Archive of the GDR Opposition [working title]

04/11/2018 — 16/12/2018

Arbeitstisch zu Grauzone - Feministischer Widerstand im Archiv der DDR-Opposition

Exhibition, Publication, Event Series

A cooperation between District Berlin and the Archive of the GDR Opposition / Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft e.V.

In the late GDR, dissident practices and sociabilities unfolded in a present that had largely detached from any utopian futurity. In 2018, this dissident history is still awaiting its public and especially artistic acknowledgement and appraisal as a political experience of relevance. It is, however, comprehensively documented at the Archive of the GDR Opposition, run by the Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft (founded in 1990 by former dissidents). The photographs, posters, banners, letters, films, and sound documents, etc. gathered here paint a picture of the oppositional women*s, peace, and environmental groups, church and non-church initiatives of the GDR, and the unique political and social practices and ideas they gave rise to – along and against both the promise and the failure of state socialism. They also document how these gained shape and momentum in the short, euphoric heyday of the civil movements and new parties in the autumn/winter of 1989/90 – before disappearing into almost complete historical unintelligibility in the post-reunification period.

The project traces these overlooked history/ies, utopian realities, and visions with artistic sensitivity and puts them – through an exhibition, a publication and an events programme – into dialogue with the cultures and policies of a crisis-prone present. It draws on current artistic forms of working with archives, which not only look at the historical contents of documents, but also at archival and historicizing practices themselves as a field of conceptual and aesthetic processing.

The project is based on the cooperation between invited artists and authors and the initiators and institutions involved (District and Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft) in the proposed research and processing of the collections of the Archive located on the Campus of Democracy (former Stasi headquarters) in Berlin Lichtenberg. It involves international contributors who deal with the central themes of the project in various formats, in many cases from a sub-cultural and counter-cultural, queer-feminist, de-colonial and post-colonial perspective on archives or archival materials, the representation of history, the specific history of the former state socialist countries and their dissidences, as well as other international environmental, women’s, human rights, and peace movements.

Artistic direction: Suza Husse and Elske Rosenfeld

Artistic researchers: Anna Zett, Claude Gomis, Elsa Westreicher, Elske Rosenfeld, Henrike Naumann, Kai Ziegner, Kollektiv der Raumerweiterungshalle, Mareike Bernien & Alex Gerbaulet, Nadia Tsulukidze, Peggy Piesche, Saskia Köbschall, Suza Husse, and others.

Project partners at the archive: Rebecca Hernandez Garcia, Frank Ebert, Christoph Ochs, Olaf Weißbach

Research assistant: Maria Josephina Making

Artistic Research at the Archive of the GDR Opposition is funded by the Hauptstadtkulturfonds and supported by the Bundesbeauftragter für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen DDR.