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.
Photo: Ilse Ruppert
D. A. F. live at Markthalle, Hamburg, 1981.
Photo: ar/gee gleim
Der Plan Concert in the Börse Wuppertal, 1979
Photo: Anno Dittmer
Einstürzende Neubauten at Berlin Atonal Festival, SO36, West-Berlin, 1982.
Photo: F. S. K.
F.S.K., Band photo, 1981.
Palais Schaumburg, Okie Dokie Neuss 1981.
© Der Plan
Cubist drummer (1987).
Curated by Mathilde Weh (Visual Arts, Goethe-Institut, Munich), this multimedia exhibition presents the most comprehensive survey to date of this extraordinary innovative subculture, highlighting the work of several bands, various artists, filmmakers and designers from West and East Germany.
Some photographs are from the artists’ private collections, and are being shown in public for the first time.