Christiane Dellbrügge and Ralf de Moll


“In my opinion, one cannot place taboos on art and literature and still claim a firm socialist position.” So said Erich Honecker at the fourth conference of the central committee of East-Germany’s Socialist Unity Party (SED) on 17 December 1971.
The motto KEINE TABUS* takes on the relationship between art and politics and promises to release art from its exploitation for ideological purposes. Written in large white letters on a red sign installed at the top of a 10 meter long set of bleachers, it references the original purpose of Karl-Marx-Allee: the “first socialist street” was used for military marches and parades in the GDR, which prominent politicians observed from massive bleachers along the sides of the street. Thus the street was decked out with slogans such as “Vorwärts zu neuen Erfolgen“ (Onwards to New Victories) or “Unser Arbeitsplatz – Kampfplatz für den Frieden“ (Our Workplace – A Battleground for Freedom) in white on red every year on Mayday and on the GDR’s Republic Day.
The double-sided bleachers now stand where the marches once took place, parallel to the street on Karl-Marx-Allee’s new median. This leads to a shift in perspective: rather than overlooking a parade from the sidelines, the new position of the bleachers at the centre of the street now overlooks the residential areas on either side. The bleachers are an opportunity for residents and passers-by to take a seat and enjoy the view of the city. What they see is the result of several paradigm shifts: from the post-Stalinist pre-fabricated architecture to the current construction of Karl-Marx-Allee, in which the green median and the bicycle paths reflect the influence of ecologically-oriented urban planning. Those who discover the bleachers by coincidence may relate the slogan KEINE TABUS* to current social and cultural debates – for example, about racism and sexism, artistic and academic freedom or legal limitations on research and education. The bleachers offer a space for these subjects to be discussed. But they are also a great place to simply take a break, have a cold beer after the day’s work is done, to wait for a movie date or to reflect on how the surrounding architecture shapes the lives of the people who live here.