Collective artistic approaches in East Berlin during the 1980s

We vs. I

STAATSGALERIE Prenzlauer Berg, Greifswalderstr. 218, 10405 Berlin

Thursday 23.05.13, 20:30

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During the preliminary discussions for this event it became clear that no-one involved at the time actually used the term ‘Collective’ – in a collectively organised Socialist system this term would have been anything but rebellious. In the 1980s it was more often the case that the subject appeared as a provocation, with exaggerated gestures, and proceeded to openly mock the state. Ronald Galenza described the situation in contemporary East Berlin as an “open-ended interaction” in which artistic disciplines were concentrated in and restricted to the smallest possible space.

The event gathers together protagonists from the contemporary scene who will, using audio and visual documentation from the time, examine the following issues:

What role does the WE play in a situation of political subjectivization?

In which spaces and contexts did artistic production occur, using which distribution channels and which resources?

Was everything unofficial automatically subversive?

To what extent can we speak of a “networked” scene?

Have the artistic strategies and aesthetic concepts become irrelevant or redundant with the disappearance of the state to which they were opposed?


Frieda von Wild/ ccd
(with Sabine von Oettingen, Katharina Reinwald, Esther Friedemann, Domenique Windisch, Robert and Jenny Paris, Frank Schäfer, Sven Marquardt, Jürgen Hohmuth and others, 1983-88)
The acronym ccd stood for “chic, charmant und dauerhaft“ (chic, charming and lasting) and was an ironic play on the quality of official GDR fashion production standards. Inspired by a combination of boredom and the desire for an individual lifestyle, they began to design together outfits and accessories that couldn’t otherwise be purchased. Without permission from the state, and consequently with impressive success, the group presented these designs in elaborate fashion shows. The project Allerleirauh later grew out of the ccd group.

Wolfram “Wollo“ Ehrhardt/ Der Demokratische Konsum
(with Detlef “Deo“ Buschkowski, Heiko “der Bittere“ Röder, Ralf “Ralle“ Scherff, 1983-86)
The band performed without official permission, their own instruments or any musical knowledge in cellars and attics in the context of the East Berlin cassette culture, which developed in the niches of the 1980s, when recordings in a studio were unimaginable. Official uniforms were redesigned as outfits for the band, and in the band’s name (“Democratic Consumption”) they toyed with an “ossified functionary’s Socialism”.

Micha Brendel/ Auto-Perforations-Artisten
(with Else Gabriel, Rainer Görß, Via Lewandowsky, 1985-1991)
The collaboration was a “mutually felt revolt” (Brendel) of visual artists who rebelled against official functional GDR concepts of art with absurd performances and actions to the point of self-injury.


Annett Gröschner, author of, among other works, Durchgangszimmer Prenzlauer Berg. Eine Berliner Künstlersozialgeschichte der 1970er und 1980er Jahre in Selbstauskünften,
with Heimo Lattner and Annette Maechtel from Formate des WIR.


Pehlemann, Alexander/Galenza, Ronald: Spannung. Leistung. Widerstand. Magnetbanduntergrund DDR 1979-1990. Verbrecher Verlag, Berlin 2006

Galenza, Ronald/Havemeister, Heinz: Wir wollen immer artig sein… Punk, New Wave, Hip-Hop, Independent-Szene in der DDR 1980-1990. Schwarzkopf&Schwarzkopf Verlag, Berlin 1999

Warnke, Uwe/Quaas, Ingeborg: Die Addition der Differenzen. Die Literaten- und Künstlerszene Ostberlins 1979 bis 1989. Verbrecher Verlag, Berlin 2009

Felsmann, Barbara/ Gröschner, Annett: Durchgangszimmer Prenzlauer Berg. Eine Berliner Künstlersozialgeschichte der 1970er und 1980er Jahre in Selbstauskünften.
Lukas Verlag (2. Auflage), Berlin 2012

“Boheme und Diktatur in der DDR.Gruppen, Konflikte, Quartiere. 1970 bis 1989”

Download publication fdw1 here: FdW1 Engl.

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