Visibility and invisibility, representation and repression are addressed and connected to the urban planning of Karl-Marx-Allee in three performative city walks and temporary installations. Each of the three works is rooted in a historical reference to the district and incorporates contemporary discussions surrounding the area as well as its residents and initiatives. Representative approaches draw attention to less perceptible social and economic realities.
Ingeborg Lockemann’s walk, Hier, Berolinastraße!, leads participants to the location of a residential high-rise building currently being planned for lesbian women as part of the project RuT Frauen Kultur & Wohnen (RuT Women’s Culture and Housing) on Berolinastraße. No other building with this purpose and of this scope exists in Europe. Hier, Berolinastraße! looks back at the conditions homosexual women lived under in East Berlin. The walks incorporate public writings in different formats created specially for this project that illustrate the ways queer life found to encounter itself in spite of the enforced silence around the subject. Among other texts, the acrylic glass art objects bear phrasing once used by gays and lesbians in coded personal advertisements in the newspaper Wochenpost to search for partners under cover.
The project Wir, 2021 (We, 2021) links the socialist fashion consciousness manifested in the timeless designs of the GDR fashion and culture magazine Sibylle with how all areas of life seem to be oriented around economic interests today, when living space has also become a hotly traded commodity. Sibylle showed women who appeared confident and independent wearing elegant, original clothing – which was rarely available for purchase in the GDR – in urban spaces. For Wir, 2021, three residents of the district have had three designs from Sibylle sewn by tailors whose wages have been calculated based on an equation according to which no more than 30% of one’s monthly income should be spent on rent. Each piece of clothing is priced according to the rent commonly paid in the area. When the budget runs out, the seamstresses will stop working. The unfinished clothing will be presented and staged in photographs that reference those shown in Sibylle. These photos will be on view at Haus des Lehrers, Kino International, and at Café Moskau for the duration of the project. Two performative walks will comment and expand upon Michaela Schweiger’s artistic research.
Inken Reinert’s performative city walk Babette im Rosengarten (Babette in the Rose Garden) will start in the Café Moskau’s rose garden, where the story of the fictional character Babette will be projected as a photo-film. Babette, the ghost of the pavilion next to Café Moskau, has returned to Karl-Marx-Allee’s second section. She comes from the future that was designed together with the district. In this future people should be able to flourish unhindered by the cramped space of tenement buildings, free of class barriers and the economic pressures of capitalism. Architecture, city planning and public art should create an environment where this is possible. Babette looks around. The roses have been locked up in the rose garden. What else has taken place in the time between a future that is past and gone and the present day she is moving through now? The protagonist has stepped out of the photo-film to perform texts made up of quotes from conversations and interviews with residents from newspaper articles and historical sources. The rose bushes surrounding her will later be distributed throughout the neighbourhood.