Exhibition Brilliant Dilletantes (Geniale Dilletanten)

Einstürzende Neubauten at the Berlin Atonal Festival, SO36, West Berlin, 1982 Foto: Anno Dittmer

Fri, 09/08/2017 -
Thu, 11/16/2017

Goethe-Institut Washington

1990 K Street NW, Suite 03
(Entrance on 20th Street NW, lower level)
Washington, DC

Subculture in Germany in the 1980s

“Geniale Dilletanten” was the deliberately misspelled title of a concert that took place at Berlin’s Tempodrom in 1981. But over the years since then, it has come to represent an artistic scene in West and East Germany during the mid-1980’s, an era of upheaval in which people in all the arts experimented with new ways of expression. Rather than persisting with the cause for world revolution, energies were channeled into achieving alternative ways of life.
 
The intense cultural activity of this period developed particularly in and around art schools, and was marked by cross-genre experimentation and the use of new electronic equipment; musical craftsmanship was frequently spurned. The emergence of new record labels, magazines, galleries and clubs, as well as the plethora of independently produced records, tapes and concerts, illustrate the growth of self-organization and the do-it-yourself spirit of this period. By adopting German rather than English as the language for song lyrics and band names, the protagonists of this new scene set themselves apart from the mainstream, giving credence to the movement's claim to be representing a radical new departure. Its vociferous protest and targeted provocation also brought Germany's alternative artistic scene international acclaim and recognition.
 
  • Der Plan Concert in the Börse Wuppertal, 1979 Photo: ar/gee gleim
    Der Plan Concert in the Börse Wuppertal, 1979
  • Ornament und Verbrechen Concert, Kino Babylon, East Berlin, 1987 Photo: Hartmut Beil
    Ornament und Verbrechen Concert, Kino Babylon, East Berlin, 1987
  • F.S.K., Band Photo, 1981. Photo: F. S. K.
    F.S.K., Band Photo, 1981.
  • D. A. F. live in the Market Hall, Hamburg, 1981. Photo: Ilse Ruppert
    D. A. F. live in the Market Hall, Hamburg, 1981.
  • Punks in an occupied house in Prenzlauer Berg, East Berlin, 1982. Photo: Ilse Ruppert
    Punks in an occupied house in Prenzlauer Berg, East Berlin, 1982.
  • Ratinger Hof, Düsseldorf, 1981. Photo: ar/gee gleim
    Ratinger Hof, Düsseldorf, 1981.
  • Alex Hacke (alias Alexander von Borsig) plays with Kiddy Citny (from the Band Sprung aus den Wolken) for a small audience, Risiko, West Berlin, 1981. Photo: Anno Dittmer
    Alex Hacke (alias Alexander von Borsig) plays with Kiddy Citny (from the Band Sprung aus den Wolken) for a small audience, Risiko, West Berlin, 1981.
Collectives such as F.S.K. and Die Tödliche Doris experimented with music, film and language. The Einstürzende Neubauten generated as yet unheard-of levels of tumultuous noise with instruments they built themselves. Dada and Fluxus were revitalized, 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 began to peter out into the commercialized products of the Neue Deutsche Welle (New German Wave) and finally dried up with Reunification was 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, enhanced by the number of foreign artists living in Berlin.
 
This multimedia exhibition will host a collection of videos, photos, posters, audio samples, texts and objects that provide an overview of the subculture in the 1980’s. Some photographs are from the artists’ private collections, and are being shown in public for the first time. The selection of bands represents the different cities and regions that played an important role in German subculture of the 80’s.
 
The following bands will be presented in the exhibition:
Einstürzende Neubauten (Berlin)
Die Tödliche Doris (Berlin)
Ornament & Verbrechen (East Berlin)
Der Plan (Düsseldorf)
Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft – DAF (Düsseldorf)
Palais Schaumburg (Hamburg)
F.S.K. Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle (Munich)

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