The East in Me
- an artistic process
The culture of remembrance for East Germany has reached a turning point: 30 years after the fall of the Wall, reunification, Rostock-Lichtenhagen, a new generation has grown up that no longer wants to remember the GDR as a “dictatorship” or a “bygone utopia”.
This generation feels “the East” differently: in the present tense and as a source of alternative ways of life. Instead of nostalgia or GDR bashing, this generation is concerned with articulating the East and the remnants of the GDR anew in the present: as part of its own identity.
What’s fascinating is that this generation remembers the GDR without having experienced it. For them, the East is not history that has to be reconstructed or justified, but a phantom-aching “home”, buried self-history, and a resource for diverse constructions of the future.
With “The East in Me” we want to tie in with this new discourse on memory. While visual artists with a biography of the East are becoming increasingly visible, we want to work on this new emotional space of the East in the theater and develop contemporary theatrical formats for it.
For the realization of our project we do not need an anniversary, no official celebrations, no round birthday. We need places – rehearsal stages with a laboratory and workshop atmosphere.
The project is supported by the Fonds Darstellende Künste.
For “The East in Me” we invite artistic researchers to deal with their personal East.
In a first step, the participants will work out their experiences, materials and formats from a performative/theatrical point of view. As curators, we will provide the logistical and technical framework for this first work process.
In a second step we dare a formal experiment: We will interconnect the developed contributions in a method that we call “parallel” or “meme theater” and on which we have been researching for some time.
This method aims – as in digital meme production – to operationalize the simultaneity of disparate contents and positions in theatrical space: Incongruous and contradictory things (e.g., two plays) meet in productive clashes and mash-ups. The resulting harmonies or dissonances are framed and amplified with the means of theater.
With “The East in Me” we search for new theatrical points of orientation for a newly felt East, in an open-ended and process-oriented way.
“The East in Me” is both a response to the new culture of memory about the East and to the changed digital viewing habits through e.g. meme production.
Our project wants to formally approach the hypercomplexity, the flood of information, the synchronous difference of East experiences and map theatrical memes for diverse East feelings.
Currently, the consensus on the East has run out: migrant histories of the GDR, economic-political takeover narratives, discourses of right-wing radicalism and grassroots democracy have replaced the empty formula of “reunification.”
Formally, too, “The East in Me” is very topical: our method of “parallel” or “meme theater” responds to changed viewing habits in the digital age. Where publics must constantly negotiate new and disparate scenarios, theater can no longer insist on one material, one text, one staging concept.
At a time when theater makers are trying to bring theater into the digital space (e.g. Zoomtheater), we work in reverse with our method of “meme theater” and try to transfer digital techniques into analog theater practice and elaborate them on the foil “East”.