Subculture in Germany in the 1980s
“Geniale Dilletanten” was the deliberately misspelled title of a concert that took place on September 4, 1981 in the Berlin venue Tempodrom. The title has come to stand for a brief era of artistic renewal in West and East Germany in the mid-1980s, a period when people in all the arts explored new paths and innovative forms of expression. Typical for this cross-genre approach were musicians who shot super-8 films, painters who played in bands or founded clubs which served as incubators for the new scene that was erupting all over the country – not just in Berlin, but also in Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Munich, Bonn, Rosenheim and Erlangen. The first portable and affordable video recorders made it possible to produce clips; for the first time, lyrics sung in German prevailed over English, the language that had previously dominated pop music. Collectives such as F.S.K. or Die Tödliche Doris experimented with music, film and language.
The band Einstürzende Neubauten generated as yet unheard-of levels of tumultuous noise with instruments they built themselves. Dada and Fluxus were revitalised, xeroxed fanzines were circulated, all around the country audiocassette labels shot up out of nowhere, and art galleries were invaded by painters of the “Junge Wilden” (Young Wild Ones) movement.
What by the mid-eighties then began to peter out into the commercialised products of the Neue Deutsche Welle (New German Wave) and finally dried up with the Reunification, had started off as an unprecedented artistic fervency that broke new ground not only in music and the visual arts, but also in design, fashion, literature and film. Anything that transgressed genres and categories, that disrupted or challenged established artistic boundaries – including political divisions between East and West – became an object of intense artistic exploration.
To illustrate the extraordinary innovative spectrum of this subculture, Brilliant Dilletantes
presents the protagonists and venues of artistic milieus in different regions throughout Germany, offering insight into a rich variety of networks, as well as exploring the broad spectrum of artistic concepts that emerged from this period.