Chair: Dirk Schulz (Cologne, GER)
Angela McRobbie (London, UK / Berlin, GER)
The talk will offer a number of critical reflections on subcultural theory and its aftermath, the contribution of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies and the neo-marxist paradigms of Stuart Hall. There will also be some consideration of appropriation of subculture as ‘artistic critique’ into the mainstream of consumer culture (Boltanski and Chiapello 2005) and the transformation of subculture into youth-oriented governmentalised labour markets for cultural economy (McRobbie 1989 / 2016).
Thomas Love (Chicago, IL, US / Berlin, GER)
Given their predilection for racial drag, geisha makeup, war bonnets, and naked Black bodies, it is no surprise that the German neo-Expressionist painters known as the Neue Wilde [New Savages] have been accused of primitivism. At the same time, the Neue Wilde were also involved in West German subcultures, including new wave music, DIY and self-organized spaces, queer fashion, and nightlife. Was there a connection between the artists’ primitivism and their subcultural milieu? Contrary to the typical understanding of neo-Expressionism as a reactionary investment in individual creative genius and national(ist) culture, in this presentation I argue that it served as a medium of collective, subcultural expression. Furthermore, I explain how this notion of subcultural style evokes a long-lived trope of primitive art as authentic, unalienated, and nonindividualistic. This new perspective on the primitivism of the Neue Wilde reveals it to be more than simply a problem of subject matter, and opens onto broader questions about how subcultures can be canonized and archived without resorting to an essentialist understanding of subcultural style.
Chris Regn / Bildwechsel (Graz, AUS / Hamburg, GER)
The bildwechsel video archive in Hamburg, which is truly a jewel, has been sustained by lots of enthusiasm. It is home to more than 10,000 videos by women / queers / lesbians / trans* from the past forty years. The rooms that house the bildwechsel collections are like a subdivided studio full of perspectives, inventions, research, concepts, and new beginnings. A selection of examples of how bildwechsel works will fan out before us the charm of the media of committed video work.
bildwechsel: Dachverband für Frauen Medien Kultur [Scene Change: Umbrella Organization for Women Media Culture] exists since 1979 as an organization model for women artists in Hamburg. Over the past forty years it has assembled an international audiovisual archive and works with satellites in various locations. Its collections house, in addition to a library with a print archive, a video collection with more than 10,000 titles that offers a panorama of production since the early 1970s. As an action forum and archive, bildwechsel produces connections and commonalities and publishes them.
Social movements are subject to a constant process of change and therefore cannot be reliable custodians of their own history. The archiv für alternatives schrifttum (afas) [archive for alternative writing] was founded in Duisburg in 1985 to safeguard their sources and make history visible from below. It collects and archives materials from the New Social Movements since 1945 and makes them accessible to the public. The afas is now one of the oldest and largest free archives in Germany: posters from the peace movement can be found there alongside the minutes of meetings of environmental groups; Punk fanzines are on the archive’s shelves next to Trotskyist leaflets; brochures on squatting and audio cassettes from the anti-apartheid movement await uses. afas employees tell the story of their events to represent movements in an archive and preserve them for the long term.
Chair: Pinar Tuzcu (Kassel, GER)
Tiffany N. Florvil (Albuquerque, TX, US)
In 1988, the West Berlin chapter of the Initiative of Black Germans (ISD), a cultural and political organization, created the publication afro look: eine zeitschrift von schwarzen menschen in deutschland [afro look: a magazine of Black people in Germany]. afro look centered and affirmed Blackness within a nation that had long relegated Black people to the margins or marked them as nonhuman. Giving Black Germans an agential voice, the magazine advanced an intellectual and political tradition that foregrounded the experiences, culture, and histories of Black Germans as well as others across the diaspora in Germany and beyond.
In this paper, I argue that afro look not only functioned as a critical site for intellectualism, artistic expression, political strategizing, and community, but it also offered an opportunity for an engagement with diverse cultural productions of individuals across the global Black diaspora. It featured film reviews, book reviews, concert dates, and more, signaling how important pop culture and performance remained in the lives of Black Germans. They used afro look and Black diasporic pop culture more broadly as a way to survive and forge solidarity in a majority-white country. For many, diasporic pop culture was a part of their everyday.
Meryem Choukri (Warwick, UK / Gießen, GER)
Racialized people living in Germany find themselves confronted with an imperial, and inherently racist cultural archive (Wekker 2016). Therefore, they have produced a wide range of responses in form of theoretical interventions or cultural productions to challenge this, which I refer to as archives of resistance. These archives are a way to inscribe or sometimes also reinscribe the presence of racialized communities into the European landscape and to question hegemonial concepts of identity and belonging through art, literature, poetry, science, performance, etc.
Feminists of colour have established rich archives of resistance which confront racist and patriarchal ascriptions but also offer possibilities to envision different futures and ways of living together. Archives of resistance do not exist outside hegemonial power structures but always in confrontation with those. They are not only sources of critical knowledge and collective memory but also repositories and tools of resistance, which keep feminist movements of colour going.
Peter Rehberg (Berlin, GER)
The bequests of those who died of AIDS often formed the beginning of gay and queer archives in the 1980s. The need for queer collecting and archiving arose not only from the importance of AIDS activism and queer movement, but also from the often difficult relationship between gay people who had died of AIDS and their homophobic families. Often, the testimonies of gay life were not kept by family members, but by lovers and friends. This situation gave rise to the idea that there had to be a community place for the memory work of AIDS. The trauma of AIDS is thus inscribed in queer archives. Trauma is also evident in the type of objects collected, for example everyday objects and ephemera. They give evidence to an unofficial historiography and a queer culture that did not yet have stable institutions. However, if AIDS is part of the founding history of queer archives, they have long since entered a phase of historicisation, with which their own collection practice is also self-reflexively addressed.
grapefruits zine (Düsseldorf, GER)
grapefruits is a fanzine on female composers and sound artists. The title refers to the book Grapefruit by Yoko Ono, who understood grapefruits as a hybrid of lemons and oranges, a metaphor for her own identity—always being in-between. Since 2019, the grapefruits team has released a new issue twice a year, combining an overarching topic with six artist portraits—all chosen by the authors based on personal interest while connecting different genres and perspectives, from early pioneers to upcoming artists. During the listening session, the grapefruits team will offer insights into their latest issue and talk about their ever-growing project while listening to tracks from the issue. The fifth grapefruits issue on Punk, which will be released at the conference, deals with the relation between punk and feminism from the 1970s until today. The authors write about female artists who identify or have identified with punk und their accompanying experiences. Among the artists are Burka Band (Afghanistan), Gudrun Gut (Germany), Haru Nemuri (Japan), Östro 430 (Germany), Radamel (Columbia), and SIKSA (Poland).
Dagmar Brunow (Stockholm, SWE / Hamburg, GER)
Alternative archival strategies are interventions into our cultural memory. They have the potential to challenge dominant historiographies and to create a living archive for the present and the future. While the heritage sector has currently been more aware around questions of diversity, film, and video archives are currently facing particular challenges in terms of materiality and sustainability, copyright and ethics. How can archival practice address (or possibly replace) gaps in archival collections? Is it so easy to simply include marginalized groups? How could exclusions be made visible and how can archives address the ambivalence of visibility? And how can difficult heritage be dealt with? This keynote presents ways of changing collection policies and the curation of access in the context of current debates on memory politics.
📍 WP8, Kölner Str. 73, 40211 Düsseldorf
📍 WP8, Kölner Str. 73, 40211 Düsseldorf
For Tabea Blumenschein
In 1982, Wolfgang Müller published the manifesto of West Berlin’s subculture: Geniale Dilletanten [Brilliant Dilettantes, deliberately misspelled], which quoted right at the beginning Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who regarded himself as a dilettante, beyond the extremes of academic pedantry and do-it-yourself pathos. Müller’s joint project with Nikolaus Utermöhlen, Die Tödliche Doris, which was founded in 1980, professionals and dilettantes alike were often invited to contribute. The artist and actress Tabea Blumenschein, who passed away in March 2020, contributed to it from the beginning with drawings, texts, and her performance in the physical makeup of the disembodied popstar Doris. And as late as 2018 she drew thirty-one different sex toys whose sounds are recorded on the Tödliche Doris album Reenactment: Das Typische Ding [The typical thing] (2019).
Wolfgang Müller is dedicating his lecture on the vanished and (re)constructed bodies in sub- and high culture to his friend of many years and fellow artist Tabea Blumenschein. It presents excerpts from the Tödliche Doris opera Autofahrt in Deutschland [Driving in Germany], which was only recently discovered and revised. At the opera’s premiere on December 4, 1987, Hermoine Zittlau made an impression alongside Tabea Blumenschein and Etsuko Okazaki. With the second performance of this opera the following day, Die Tödliche Doris celebrated its last show as a live band.
* Walther von Goethe (1818–1885) was one of Goethe’s three grandchildren; Goethe’s line died with him. Walther is said to have stated: “Mein Grossvater war ein Hüne, ich bin ein Hühnchen” [My grandfather was a giant, I am a chicken].
📍 WP8, Kölner Str. 73, 40211 Düsseldorf
Dario Naunheim (22) will talk about his young life in a drag show called This is me: his childhood in Gerresheim, school, coming out, starting his career as Germany’s youngest drag artist at sixteen, his internship with the drag queen culture figure Olivia Jones in Hamburg, the good times and bad of a young man. “I have experienced so much and talk about it onstage, all with suitable background music,” says Dario.
He begins his show as Dario, the normal boy from next door, who over the course of the evening keeps changing clothes and applying more make up until at the end he is standing onstage as Dyana Dyamond: the character who made Dario famous as a drag artist. This very private show is a Düsseldorf premiere; until now it has only been presented at Oliva Jones’s club in Hamburg.
📍 WP8, Kölner Str. 73, 40211 Düsseldorf
With kind support from