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 Each of the three works is rooted in a historical reference to the district and incorporates contemporary discussions surrounding the area as well as its residents and initiatives.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.
The first 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 second project is titled Wir, 2021 (We, 2021) and links the socialist fashion consciousness manifested in the timeless designs of the GDR fashion 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. Sybille showed women who appeared confident and independent wearing elegant, original clothing – which was not available for purchase in the GDR – in urban spaces. Three residents of the district will recreate three designs from Sybille for Wir, 2021. Their 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 installed in different places on Karl-Marx-Allee to be commented and expanded upon during the walks.
The third performative city walk is called Babette im Rosengarten and will start in the Café Moskau’s rose garden. There, the story of the fictional character Babette will be projected as a photographic film. Babette passes wastelands and abandoned areas and eventually plants a garden at the edge of the residential district. The protagonist will accompany the film with a performance of texts that draw from conversations and interviews with residents as well as from newspaper articles and historical sources. The rosebushes surrounding her will subsequently be transferred to the newly planted provisional garden in a parade through the residential area and past many historic landmarks.