The Potential of Subversives

Excerpt from a speech at the German National Theatre in Weimar on the jubilee of the "20 Year Weimar Prize", on the 3rd of October, 2010.

It seems to be my duty, particularly in the present day… to mention the contribution of alternative groups for the new beginning of 1990. Perhaps they can understand my empathy with the Subversives which endures to today…

The "key year" for me was 1988, a year in which the “Ensemble für Intuitive Musik Weimar” (EFIM) ("Weimar Ensemble for Intuitive Music") performed the "1st Day of New Music" with 22 works of the German Federal Republic's composer, Karlheinz Stockhausen, despite the official GDR culture politics.

The performance space was the Denstädt village church with its rediscovered "Liszt Organ". The audience arrived stormed in in flocks… This happened in 1988 in a town, in which much was going on, where also ever more powers were mobilizing, which pressed for  change and freedom. Thus, it is not surprising that three initiatives formed one year in Weimar. These were the "Gallery Sponge", on the 7th of October, on Liebknechtstrasse, and in December, the Autonomy Culture Centre ("ACC"), which started with a "mass Christmas caroling", and the "C. Cellar", which opened with its own blues and rock band "Mop" on New Year's Eve. Also to be mentioned, of course, is the punk music scene which grew in the 1980's, and which found its own platform in the occupied house at 3, Gerberstrasse.

In December of 1989 I, with Hans Tutschku, formed the Weimar Klang Projeckte (Weimar Tone Project) as an "independent collective for music of the present day", "to remain free from the ideological influences for contemporary music". I recall with enthusiasm the Spring of 1990, of the "culture mile" produced by the three aforementioned galleries, which kicked open gates but also brought to the public light the shaken or neglected traditional artistic directions.

44 events within four weeks were set up onto their feet from nothing, which, at the same time, made clear what was out there, waiting for the chance to be realized. The departure with, and after, the "peaceful revolution" was enormous… That the initiatives mentioned here are still in existence today, is witness to their original strength and toughness… New ones have appeared. They are the "salt in the soup" in the "Open Gardens" of high culture! Representatives to be mentioned here would be the "Gaswerk" and the gallery "Eigenheim" ("Own Home"). And "Radio Lotte", whose virgin broadcast I had the privilege of moderating. Simply to go into the studio and broadcast live--unimaginable in the GDR! This is how it was possible, for example, under the title "It is five past twelve!" on the 20th of April, 2002, to co-ordinate a town-wide car horn-sounding concert in protest of the uprising of neo-Nazis in the Classicists town…

Michael von Hintzenstern

fotos, Maik Schuck, översättning: Dominic Eckersley