Akiko Hada, The Fall of a Queen or the Taste of the Fruit to Come, 1991, Videostill
© Akiko Hada, 2021i

Fringe of the Fringe

The Privileges of Subculture in the Memory of Institutions

Date

01.06.2021 - 31.05.2022

Since its beginnings in the 1970s, the medium of video has been closely connected, both in art and in the everyday culture of West Germany, with sub- and countercultural movements of the time. It is unsurprising that many of the art and music videos that have become canonical today came out of the West German countercultures of the 1970s to the 1990s—in particular punk, postpunk, new wave, and industrial. Artists and musicians took a stand against traditional values and found themselves on the fringe of bourgeois society. 

The “Fringe of the Fringe” project was initiated by the Institut für Medien- und Kulturwissenschaft of Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf and the Düsseldorf Inter Media Art Institute to work on various positionings in the production of art and music videos of the sub- and countercultures of West Germany. The conference seeks to bring together queer-feminist and antiracist strategies for archiving and cataloging audiovisual documents of punk, postpunk, new wave, and industrial and, more importantly, applying them. Using the example of the archive of the Cologne music and art video distributor 235 Media, which are preserved and processed by the Inter Media Art Institute, music videos and concert recordings from the 1970s to 1990s are being examined with an eye to race, class, gender, and sexuality. 

Already since the 1970s, art and music videos have been demonstrating their subversive potential to explore and transgress social norms and gender stereotypes. But how can these transgressions be understood in the context of the structures and resistances of their time? To what extent did they also reflect on the privileges of their own position? Can these privileges be addressed retrospectively? Even today these historicizing processes are, as a rule, White- and cis-male-dominated. This raises questions: How can subaltern voices transform and develop these institutionalized and established narratives? What would an intersectional historiography mean for the canonization of sub- and countercultures of West Germany? 

The conference centers on critical reflection on the canonization processes of countercultures in which the role of memory institutions such as archives, libraries, and museums is being processed comprehensively for the first time. The history of West Germany is deliberately being examined within an international context. Both academic and artistic approaches to research and archival practices are questioned. In order to process the history of earwitnesses, moreover, the project #KultOrtDUS: Die Medienkulturgeschichte Düsseldorf als urbanes Forschungsfeld (The Cultural History of Media in Düsseldorf as a Field of Urban Research), which is supported by the Bürgeruniversität of the Heinrich-Heine-Universität, is being embedded into the conference and its voice integrated.  Düsseldorf, October 2021, Kathrin Dreckmann, Linnea Semmerling, and Elfi Vomberg

Fringe of the Fringe

Dr. Linnea Semmerling
Director Inter Media Art Institute

Dr. Kathrin Dreckmann
Assistant Professor
Institut für Medien- und Kulturwissenschaft
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf

 

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