An afternoon with films produced in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and Eastern Germany before and after 1989
With introductions by Claus Löser, Loretta Fahrenholz, and Daniel Neumann. Organized by Loretta Fahrenholz and Tobi Maier
German-style snacks will be served for lunch
Goethe-Institut Wyoming Building
5 East 3rd Street
New York 10003
Claus Löser/Jakobine Motz, Claiming the Space – Ways of Independent Art Exhibitions in the GDR, 2009, 100 min
After the expatriation of Wolf Biermann in 1976, a culture evolved in the GDR that was separate from the official apparatuses of cultural production and dissemination. New creative structures were formed. This subcultural approach could be found in the fields of painting and photography as well as in literature, music and film. Galleries such as Eigen+Art, for example, contributed to the public perception of this movement of artistic emancipation. However, these free spaces were indebted to a large number of actors that had were the precursors of this movement. Claiming the Space – Ways of Independent Art Exhibitions in the GDR tells the story of this “other GDR” culture in a dialog between present-day views and documentary recordings.
Claus Löser was born in 1962 in Karl-Marx-Stadt (today Chemnitz). From 1990-95 he studied at the Film School in Potsdam-Babelsberg. Since 1990, he has been the program director for the BrotfabrikKino in Berlin. In 1992 he also began working as a freelance film critic (taz, Berliner Zeitung, film-dienst). The same year, he was honored with the Art Award from the Berlin Academy of Art. In 1996, he became the founding director of the collection ex.oriente.lux (Experimental Film Archive East 1976-1989) and also published the book Counter-images – Cinematic Subversion in the GDR. He received a scholarship from the DEFA Foundation in 2001. In 2004, he curated the exhibition Berlin – Moscow / Moscow – Berlin 1950 to 2000 (Gropius Bau). He received a scholarship from 2005-2007 from the Foundation for the Study of the SED dictatorship. In 2009, he curated the Berlinale film series Winter adé – Filmische Vorboten der Wende. In 2008, he published Counter-images, a compilation DVD that was released in Germany and the USA. He completed his doctoral thesis at the School for Film and Television in Potsdam-Babelsberg, with a dissertation on GDR art films.
Helke Misselwitz, Winter adé, 1988, 116 min
The film is about a train journey across the GDR that takes place in the last year of its existence. On their journey from the industrial mining town of Zwickau in Saxony, the native region of filmmaker Helke Misselwitz, to the Baltic Sea the director meets women of different ages and social backgrounds. Some of the meetings are arranged, while others stem from improvised situations. The landscape and architecture of East Germany, filmed in a stark black and white contrast, form the background. The women talk about their daily lives, their needs and hopes. The characters of all of the woman vary greatly and include two young punks, a worker from a coal mine, a Berlin economist, and a 85-year-old lady who just celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary. Their statements and observations culminate in a diverse kaleidoscope of memories, nostalgia and disappointment that personify the life and mood in East Germany in the year before its collapse.
Helke Misselwitz was born in 1947 near Zwickau (Saxony). In 1970, she moved to East Berlin where she worked for East German television as a presenter and assistant director. From 1978-82 she studied film direction in Potsdam-Babelsberg. After graduating, she did not return to television but instead began working as a freelance writer and director. Following her studies with Heiner Carow at the Academy of Arts of the GDR, Misselwitz produced several short documentaries including her masterpiece, Winter adé. As a professor she teaches film directing at the Film School in Potsdam-Babelsberg
Loretta Fahrenholz, Haust, 2010, 71 min
The experimental feature film Haust follows the conflicted lives and relationships of three former art students in East Germany. Caught up in ambivalent desires, ambitions, and harsh economic realities, the film’s protagonists live together in a fragile balance that is suddenly disrupted when an unemployed friend joins their small circle. In a series of loosely connected sequences, the film tracks the group’s everyday rituals, shifting intimacies, and anxieties about the direction of their lives. Haust is comprised of fictional and documentary elements. While the story line is imaginary, all the jobs carried out in the film are based on the actual work experiences of the actors, all of them artists themselves.
Loretta Fahrenholz was born in Starnberg in 1981. From 2001-07, she studied at Hochschule für Grafik and at the Buchkunst Leipzig. She also studied from 2005-07 at the Akademie der bildenden Künste Vienna. She attended the Whitney Independent Study Program, New York in 2010/2011.
Helge Leiberg, Here comes the sun, 1983, 20 min
In Here Comes the Sun abstract stimuli correspond continuously with specific approaches to image formation. The film pulsates in a constant interchange of concrete perception and its momentary blurring. On the one hand, fiber pen applied on blank film, meter long continuous lines, punches, black ink blots, bright extensions, single rings, sketched symbols, and even archaic figures. On the other hand, object and subject-related recordings that include superimposed images of an open-air stadium, masked actors delivering the lines of an ancient play, time-lapse portraits of fellow artists and images of Helge Leiberg himself.
Claus Löser, Nekrolog, 1986, 16mm, 6 min
Paranoia becomes a lifestyle in this somber short feature film from Karl-Marx-Stadt, coupled with the congenial music of the British band This Heat.
Ramona Koeppel-Welsh, Konrad! Sprach die Frau Mama…, 1989, 7 min
In Konrad! Sprach die Frau Mama…, Ramona Köppel-Welsh presents her childhood images with those of other spastic children. The film documents an illegal border crossing and, towards the end, the little boy in the film escapes an oppressive race into the unknown.
Videoklub Das Gefummel, das kann ich nicht leiden, 2004-2011, 1-5 min
The video club Das Gefummel, das kann ich nicht leiden is a network of artists who produce short videos following a strict dogma. It was founded in 2004 by Axel Töpfer, Thomas Janitzky, and Daniel Neumann in Leipzig. The clubs’ videos are made “in” the camera, without rewinding and without any editing or post-production. Offshoots of the club were founded in Berlin, Sibiu, Catania, and Basel. So far the video club has produced a total of 525 short films.
With an introduction by Daniel Neumann
Daniel Neumann is a Brooklyn-based experimental composer and audio engineer, originally from Leipzig, Germany. He holds a master’s degree in media art at the Academy of Visual Art Leipzig and also studied electronic music compositon under Emanuelle Casale. Daniel currently works as a curatorial assistant for Diapason Gallery, as the curator for the series Santos is Closed, as an independent composer and sound designer, and as an audio engineer for the Electronic Music Foundation NYCEMF and Santos Party House in New York City.
1986, 16mm, 6 min
Claus Löser, Jakobine Motz
Claiming the Space – Ways of Independent Art Exhibitions in the GDR
2009, 100 min
Here comes the sun
1983, 20 min
Konrad! Sprach die Frau Mama…
1989, 7 min
1988, 116 min
Videoklub Das Gefummel, das kann ich nicht leiden
2004-2011, 5 min
2010, 71 min