TRAUTES HEIM, ALLEIN | SWEET HOME, ALONE
Artists and exhibition period
May 23, 2021 – October 31, 2021
About the special exhibition TRAUTES HEIM, ALLEIN | SWEET HOME, ALONE
Sibylle Bergemann, Andrea Grützner, Henrike Naumann, Andreas Mühe, Peter Piller and Christian Borchert are central artistic positions that consider the present of our society with awareness of the past. In the exhibition TRAUTES HEIM, ALLEIN | SWEET HOME, ALONE, the home becomes the central subject and image. The “home sweet home” is first of all a promise of happiness. In terms of aesthetics and taste, however, this can quickly turn into a staid, only pretended bliss. The downside of the “home away from home” and its private cosiness far from the world is isolation and distancing, as well as conformity and obedience. Historically, the retreat into the private sphere has often shown itself particularly at times of political unrest, whether in the Biedermeier period or much later in the Cold War. Sibylle Bergemann, Andrea Grützner, Henrike Naumann, Andreas Mühe, Peter Piller and Christian Borchert make this dichotomy artistically visible. Her works are all based on real templates: the places or objects they show really exist. In the houses, living spaces, interior fittings and decor elements that they use in their artistic work, the superficially innocuous impression initially feigns political naughtiness. Behind it, however, there are politically, sociologically and ideologically charged motives that reflect a critical picture of our time and the state of our society.
For Sibylle Bergemann, it is a photographic series about the “P2” panel construction type, which not only stands for a form of living but also an attitude. It is a prestige project of the GDR, which should symbolize the new, socialist living. A small architectural installation, the so-called “hatch”, which connects the kitchen and living room, is also intended to revolutionize the position of women in the household.
In the group of works “Family Portraits”, Christian Borchert depicts various families he has visited all over the GDR. He shows them in their living rooms as they want to present themselves to the photographer. He notes the year, the occupation of the parents or couples, and place of residence. It shows a cross-section of GDR society, even if the nuclear family father, mother, child (ren) hardly varies.
Peter Piller’s work Von Erde Schöne consists of found archive material from the 1980s that documents German homes from the FRG. Piller’s selection depicts a bourgeois, decent reality in Germany that dreams of having one’s own house, one’s own garden and one’s own car. A group of motifs in the work is dedicated to the subject of “mowing the lawn” and records the obligatory, petty-bourgeois celebrated ritual of gardening.
Andrea Grützner’s analogue photographs, on the other hand, initially appear as color-coordinated, aesthetically appealing picture compositions. The titles of the two groups of works, the corner, untitled and Erbgericht, reveal few details of what is depicted, but an indication of where they were created. This is on the one hand the so-called “German corner” in Koblenz and on the other hand an inn in the village where her grandparents live. Grützner’s concentrated focus on formal qualities such as color and plasticity uncovered taste peculiarities and preferences and illustrate their role as markers of their time.
In Henrike Naumann’s installation DDR Noir, pieces of furniture from the post-reunification era in a modeled colorful Memphis style meet the figurative painting of her grandfather, Karl Heinz Jakob from the 1950s and 1960s, who was a recognized artist in the GDR. Using the obvious contrast – iconographically and ideologically – between furniture and painting, she shows the course of history and calls up questions about the much-invoked “Ostalgia”, as well as the dreams and ideals of people before and after the fall of the Wall and what has become of it today .
Andreas Mühe, too, deals with the German past in his works and, above all, calls to mind its dark parts. A portrait of Egon Krenz, the last president of the GDR, shows the man in his present reality: as a historical figure of a bygone ideology in complete isolation. In the series Wandlitz, 2011, Andreas Mühe photographs the houses in which the political grandees of the SED leadership lived isolated from the people in the Waldsiedlung Wandlitz. A stripe on the map where Hermann Göring had previously built a property of monumental size and where the German Kaiser indulged his hunting joys even earlier. The house facades, however, show no color and reveal nothing about the political past of the place. The terrace furniture from the Obersalzberg group of works is just as uninspiring. In that idyllic Bavarian village, Hitler resided far away from the horrors of war. Since Mühe depicts the furniture group, as Hitler had it in his residence, in isolation from its surroundings, the politically charged aspect of living space and home becomes particularly tangible.
Ideology leaves visible traces in the aesthetics of its time. Retreating into domestic privacy as happiness means, in return, staying away from public life and thus potentially rejecting political participation. The artistic positions of the exhibition show that the homeliness of one’s own four walls can easily deceive. Every facade, every living space, every piece of furniture is always also a bearer of the political and historical conditions of its time. The ambivalent power of the familiar home seems to be gaining immeasurably in relevance again today. It is an artistic and, at the same time, a political and social issue that needs to be carefully questioned from all sides, from inside and outside.
Curated by Dr. Kristina scream.