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


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://bodycrisis.org.


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


Works Cited

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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.

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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: revolution89.de/fileadmin/_processed_/csm_O_3.9.1_02_org_8b629c5d5d.jpg

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

baks.bund.de/de/aktuelles/20-jahre-runder-tisch-in-polen-und-deutschland-demokratie-und-freiheit-in-europa

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/kultur/ddr-geschichte-streit-um-vergangenheit-entzweit-viele-menschen-3193808

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-nachrichten.de/media.media.f7378dec-32a6-4b52-b51a-1f3cf99b354c.normalized.jpeg

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: zeithistorische-forschungen.de/sites/default/files/medien/static/mattheuer1.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/wiki/Datei:Stamps_of_Germany_(DDR)_1971,_MiNr_1702.jpg

Image 18: “The fist as a symbol for global feminist struggle.” Copyright by history.org.uk. Available online: goo.gl/images/u9d1uK

Image 19: “The Olympic team of the FRG, June 1972.” Copyright by ullstein bild / Tagesspiegel.de. Available online: tagesspiegel.de/images/heprodimagesfotos85120130902_imago-jpg/8725044/4-format2.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.


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