September 2015
Neue Stadt

an essay in fragments and gaffa
GDR Berlin



Neue Stadt (of art and labour)


Schönhauser Allee, Prenzlauer Berg

The fragments belong to each place and bring to surface an unwritten history of labour with its hidden utopia. The utopia is the consumation of labour when the cycle of silent unfulfilled labour will come to a stop and out of it all will come a different creativity, the universal labour of a new State: a Neu Stadt of art and labour.


Funkhaus, Nalepastrasse

At funkhaus, labour of the artist exists in the knowledge that it is transient, it serves the purpose for the time. A wageless form of labour that can be redeemed as labour frozen by Capital as Art. Then it can stay - for as long as it wants.


On either side of the cavernous funkhaus corridors are dusty studios where the only possible workers can be artists - at present. They are the only workers who can use such spaces and so be the bridge to a rehabilitation of the space.




Neue Stadt began with the opportunity to work at funkhaus, the vast former GDR broadcasting headquarters, a monument to State Socialism's grandeur of civic vision and public service. Its sale after the collapse of the Berlin Wall is much documented, the bargain basement sell off of socialist era assets, inevitably followed by resale. Each cycle of sale and resale dilutes the political significance of the GDR. Socialism becomes a toy Trabant that sits in the foyer of a redeveloped funkhaus, decorative without any ideological dimensions.

In the milchbar, the milchwoman who once served possibly thousands still works here - for now. She speaks no English but we get on. In another year, like everything here, the milchbar will get its makeover and there will be no place for her.


Scharnweberstr, Friedrichshain

Neue Stadt is an essay written on the surface of Berlin with gaffa tape, the Berlin that is already a cacophony of subcultural signs and graffiti. It is an essay on the material conditions of creative labour in the making of a new Berlin with a nod to the legacy of Berlin's self-made spaces like Bethanien and Tacheles; it is also commentary on the fading legacy of the GDR and the new place of creative labour in a neoliberal renewal of the city.

Acknowledgements

The artist-led studio shows lighthaus at funkhaus are the initiative of Gabriele Aicardi.
The theme of the September 2015 lighthaus was Neue Stadt

 

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