8-1 | Table of Con­tents | DOI 10.17742/IMAGE.GDR.8-1.2 | Het­zer­PDF


Abstract | The visu­al essay is based on research car­ried out between 2010 and 2015 under the title “Bod­ies of Crisis—Remembering the Ger­man Wende.” The project main­ly con­sist­ed of oral-his­to­ry research and a series of per­for­mance events pre­sent­ed in the UK and Ger­many. In 27 inter­views, women from East Ger­many rec­ol­lect­ed their embod­ied quo­tid­i­an expe­ri­ence amidst the polit­i­cal tran­si­tion from a social­ist to a cap­i­tal­ist state in 1989 and there­after. Live per­for­mance opened up access points for a tran­scul­tur­al trans­la­tion of this expe­ri­ence involv­ing prac­ti­tion­ers from diverse cul­tur­al and cre­ative back­grounds. The per­for­mance work extend­ed the cul­tur­al­ly spe­cif­ic expe­ri­ence beyond the East Ger­man case by point­ing toward glob­al strug­gles for exis­tence, accep­tance, and eman­ci­pa­tion.
Résumé | Cet essai visuel est le résul­tat du pro­jet d’études «Bod­ies of Cri­sis – Remem­ber­ing the Ger­man Wende» (Corps de la crise – Sou­venir de la chute du Mur), réal­isé à l’Université de War­wick de 2010 à 2015. Au moyen de 27 inter­views, des femmes de l’Allemagne de l’Est se sont remé­moré les expéri­ences cor­porelles de leur vie quo­ti­di­enne pen­dant l’époque trou­blée de 1989 et 1990. Ces inter­views ont jeté la base d’un spec­ta­cle vivant impli­quant des artistes var­iés, ouvrant un espace d’expression tran­scul­turel et artis­tique de ces expéri­ences de temps de crise. La per­for­mance a mon­tré l’universalité des expéri­ences spé­ci­fiques de l’Allemagne de l’Est au regard des enjeux mon­di­aux que sont la survie, la recon­nais­sance et l’émancipation.

Maria Het­zer | Berlin

Negotiating Memories of Everyday Life during the Wende

The visu­al essay is based on col­lab­o­ra­tive research a group of per­for­mance-based researchers con­duct­ed between 2010 and 2015 under the title “Bod­ies of Crisis—Remembering the Ger­man Wende.” The project main­ly con­sist­ed of oral-his­to­ry research and a series of per­for­mance events pre­sent­ed in the UK and Ger­many. In 27 inter­views, women from East Ger­many rec­ol­lect­ed their embod­ied quo­tid­i­an expe­ri­ence amidst the polit­i­cal tran­si­tion from a social­ist to a cap­i­tal­ist state in 1989 and there­after. Live per­for­mance opened up access points for a tran­scul­tur­al trans­la­tion of this expe­ri­ence involv­ing prac­ti­tion­ers from diverse cul­tur­al and cre­ative back­grounds. The per­for­mance work extend­ed the cul­tur­al­ly spe­cif­ic expe­ri­ence beyond the East Ger­man case by point­ing toward glob­al strug­gles for exis­tence, accep­tance, and eman­ci­pa­tion. The fol­low­ing sequence of images and clips invites read­ers to reflect on the embod­ied quo­tid­i­an as a valu­able approach to the study of the his­tor­i­cal expe­ri­ence of 1989. Short com­men­taries con­sid­er how mem­o­ries of somat­ic quo­tid­i­an expe­ri­ence influ­ence the expe­ri­ence of the body vis-à-vis wider social change.

Per­for­mance col­lab­o­ra­tors: Maia­da Aboud, endurance art researcher (UK/Israel); Jes­si­ca Argyri­dou, video per­for­mance artist (Cyprus); David Ben­nett, dancer-researcher (UK); Michael Grass, her­itage researcher and visu­al design­er (UK/Germany); Linos Tze­los, musi­cian (Greece). Fur­ther stu­dio col­lab­o­ra­tors: Elia Zachar­i­ouda­ki, actress (Greece); Osama Suleiman, media artist (Sau­di Arabia/Jordan); Gor­don Pala­gi, actor (USA).

Copy­right lies with the project or photographers/agencies ref­er­enced in the image cap­tions. Project pho­tog­ra­phers for Bod­ies of Cri­sis: Michael Grass (MG), Maria Rankin (MR), Ian O’Donoghue (IOD). My sin­cere thanks go to Seán Allan and Nico­las Why­brow, who super­vised this research project, as well as Marc Sil­ber­man and two anony­mous review­ers who made valu­able com­ments on a draft of this essay. More infor­ma­tion on the per­for­mance research can be found on the project’s web­site http://​body​cri​sis​.org.


Click Image for Track One
Click Image for Track Two
Click Image for Track Three


Works Cited

Aboud, Maia­da. Stig­ma­ta: Marks of Pain in Body Per­for­mance by Arab Female Artists. Ph.D. dis­ser­ta­tion, Sheffield-Hal­lam Uni­ver­si­ty, 2016.

Bude, Heinz, Thomas Medicus, and Andreas Willisch. Über­leben im Umbruch. Am Beispiel Wit­ten­berge. Bun­deszen­trale für poli­tis­che Bil­dung, 2012.

Brit­Nat. bn​.org​.uk, accessed Sep­tem­ber 30, 2016.

de Certeau, Michel. The Prac­tice of Every­day Life. U of Cal­i­for­nia P, 1984.

Eghi­gian, Greg. “Homo Muni­tus: The East Ger­man Observed.” Social­ist Mod­ern: East Ger­man Every­day Life     and Cul­ture, edit­ed by Paul Betts and Kathy Pence. U of Michi­gan P, 2008, pp. 37-70.

Eis­man, April A. “Review of Art of Two Ger­manys / Cold War Cul­tures.” Ger­man His­to­ry, vol. 27, no. 4, 2009, pp. 628-30.

Grix, Jonathan. The Role of the Mass­es in the Col­lapse of the GDR. Macmil­lan, 2000.

High­more, Ben, edi­tor. Every­day Life. Crit­i­cal Con­cepts in Media and Cul­tur­al Stud­ies. Rout­ledge, 2012.

Holm, Andrej, and Armin Kuhn. “Squat­ting and Urban Renew­al: The Inter­ac­tion of Squat­ter Move­ments and Strate­gies of Urban Restruc­tur­ing in Berlin.” Inter­na­tion­al Jour­nal of Urban and Region­al Research, vol. 35, no. 3, 2011, pp. 644-58.

Lands­berg, Ali­son. Pros­thet­ic Mem­o­ry: The Trans­for­ma­tion of Amer­i­can Remem­brance in the Age of Mass Cul­ture. Colum­bia UP, 2004.

Lefeb­vre, Hen­ri. Cri­tique of Every­day Life. Vol. 2. Ver­so, 1991.

Lin­den­berg­er, Thomas. “Eigen-Sinn, Dom­i­na­tion and No Resis­tance.” Docu­pe­dia-Zeit­geschichte, docu​pe​dia​.de/​z​g​/​E​i​g​e​n​s​inn, accessed Octo­ber 4, 2016.

Links, Christoph, Sybille Nitsche, and Antje Taffelt, edi­tors. Das Wun­der­bare Jahr der Anar­chie: Von der Kraft des zivilen Unge­hor­sams 1989/90. Ch. Links Ver­lag, 2004.

Lüdtke, Alf. The His­to­ry of Every­day Life: Recon­struct­ing His­tor­i­cal Expe­ri­ences and Ways of Life. Prince­ton UP, 1995.

Mattheuer, Wolf­gang. Text next to sculp­ture in Bonn, Haus der Geschichte. commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%22Der_Jahrhundertschritt%22_(Step_of_Century),_Wolfgang_Mattheuer,_1984 -_Bonn.jpg, accessed Octo­ber 4, 2016.

McLel­lan, Josie. “Visu­al Dan­gers and Delights: Nude Pho­tog­ra­phy in East Ger­many.” Past & Present, vol. 205, no. 1, 2009, pp. 143-74.

Moran, Joe. “Novem­ber in Berlin: The End of the Every­day.” His­to­ry Work­shop Jour­nal, vol. 57, no. 1, 2004, pp. 216-34.

Oli­vo, Chris­tiane. Cre­at­ing a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Civ­il Soci­ety in East­ern Ger­many: The Case of the Cit­i­zen Move­ments and Alliance 90. Macmil­lan, 2001.

Clip and Image Notes

Image 1: “Tast­ing apples.” Copy­right by Body­cri­sis, Michael Grass.

Image 2: “Novem­ber 4, 1989, Berlin, Alexan­der­platz.” Copy­right by Andreas Käm­per, Robert Have­mann Gesellschaft, 1989. Avail­able online: rev​o​lu​tion89​.de/​f​i​l​e​a​d​m​i​n​/​_​p​r​o​c​e​s​s​e​d​_​/​c​s​m​_​O​_​3​.​9​.​1​_​0​2​_​o​r​g​_​8​b​6​2​9​c​5​d​5​d​.​jpg

Image 3: “Round Table talks, East Berlin, 1989.” Copy­right by dpa / BAKS. Avail­able online:

baks​.bund​.de/​d​e​/​a​k​t​u​e​l​l​e​s​/​2​0​-​j​a​h​r​e​-​r​u​n​d​e​r​-​t​i​s​c​h​-​i​n​-​p​o​l​e​n​-​u​n​d​-​d​e​u​t​s​c​h​l​a​n​d​-​d​e​m​o​k​r​a​t​i​e​-​u​n​d​-​f​r​e​i​h​e​i​t​-​i​n​-​e​u​r​opa

Image 4: “Kom­mune I, the most famous squat in Mainz­er Straße, East Berlin 1990.” Copy­right by Umbruch Bil­darchiv.

Image 5: “Exam­ple of an East Ger­man super­mar­ket (Kaufhalle) address­ing the desires of East Ger­mans in 1990.” Copy­right by dpa / MZ.web. Avail­able online: mz​-web​.de/​k​u​l​t​u​r​/​d​d​r​-​g​e​s​c​h​i​c​h​t​e​-​s​t​r​e​i​t​-​u​m​-​v​e​r​g​a​n​g​e​n​h​e​i​t​-​e​n​t​z​w​e​i​t​-​v​i​e​l​e​-​m​e​n​s​c​h​e​n​-​3​1​9​3​808

Image 6: “Young East Ger­man woman eat­ing.” Copy­right by Body­cri­sis, pri­vate.

Image 7: “The ambiva­lence of every­day prac­tice in a state cri­sis. Scene from the per­for­mance, Apples.” Copy­right by Body­cri­sis, Ian O’Donoghue, 2012.

Image 8: “An East Ger­man woman’s appli­ca­tion to a West­ern employ­er marked down “Minus Ossi”.” Copy­right by dpa / n24​.de. Avail­able online: www​.stuttgarter​-nachricht​en​.de/​m​e​d​i​a​.​m​e​d​i​a​.​f​7​3​7​8​d​e​c​-​3​2​a​6​-​4​b​5​2​-​b​5​1​a​-​1​f​3​c​f​9​9​b​3​5​4​c​.​n​o​r​m​a​l​i​z​e​d​.​j​peg

Image 9: “Plan for the “New Berlin” 1997. Map of Berlin with demar­ca­tion of Wall.” Copy­right Sen­atsver­wal­tung für Stad­ten­twick­lung Berlin, 1997.

Image 10: “Pro­ject­ing his­to­ries onto bod­ies.” Copy­right by Body­cri­sis, Ian O’Donoghue, 2012.

Image 11: “Trans­lat­ing the com­fort zone of stereo­typ­ing.” Copy­right by Body­cri­sis, Maria Rankin, 2012.

Image 12: “Ten­ta­tive­ly explor­ing cul­tur­al prac­tices for room to maneu­ver.” Copy­right by Body­cri­sis, Maria Rankin, 2012.

Image 13: “Scene from the per­for­mance, The map.” Copy­right by Body­cri­sis, Ian O’Donoghue, 2012.

Image 14: “Jahrhun­dertschritt by Wolf­gang Mattheuer.” Copy­right Stiftung Haus der Geschichte der Bun­desre­pub­lik Deutsch­land. Avail­able online: zei​this​torische​-forschun​gen​.de/​s​i​t​e​s​/​d​e​f​a​u​l​t​/​f​i​l​e​s​/​m​e​d​i​e​n​/​s​t​a​t​i​c​/​m​a​t​t​h​e​u​e​r​1​.​jpg

Image 15: “East Ger­man bathing.” Copy­right by Eulen­spiegel Ver­lag / Welt​.de.

Image 16: “Par­tic­i­pants of the 1941 con­fer­ence of British Natur­ists’ Asso­ci­a­tions.” Copy­right by IMAGO / Welt​.de.

Image 17: “GDR stamp illus­trat­ing alle­giance to a glob­al fight against racism incor­po­rat­ing a draw­ing by John Heart­field.” Copy­right by Night­fly­er. Avail­able online: de​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​D​a​t​e​i​:​S​t​a​m​p​s​_​o​f​_​G​e​r​m​a​n​y​_​(​D​D​R​)​_​1​9​7​1​,​_​M​i​N​r​_​1​7​0​2​.​jpg

Image 18: “The fist as a sym­bol for glob­al fem­i­nist strug­gle.” Copy­right by his​to​ry​.org​.uk. Avail­able online: goo​.gl/​i​m​a​g​e​s​/​u​9​d​1uK

Image 19: “The Olympic team of the FRG, June 1972.” Copy­right by ull­stein bild / Tagesspiegel​.de. Avail­able online: tagesspiegel​.de/​i​m​a​g​e​s​/​h​e​p​r​o​d​i​m​a​g​e​s​f​o​t​o​s​8​5​1​2​0​1​3​0​9​0​2​_​i​m​a​g​o​-​j​p​g​/​8​7​2​5​0​4​4​/​4​-​f​o​r​m​a​t​2​.​jpg

Image 20: “Scene from per­for­mance work, Fist.” Copy­right by Body­cri­sis, Michael Grass, 2012.

Image 21: “Scene from per­for­mance work, Tub.” Copy­right by Body­cri­sis, Michael Grass, 2012.


This arti­cle is licensed under a  Cre­ative Com­mons 4.0 Inter­na­tion­al License although cer­tain works ref­er­enced here­in may be sep­a­rate­ly licensed, or the author has exer­cised their right to fair deal­ing under the Cana­di­an Copy­right Act.