DDR NOIR: SCHICHTWECHSEL
The exhibition DDR NOIR: Schichtwechsel stages an encounter between socialist realism and postmodern design. Drawing on the example of the work of Karl Heinz Jakob (*1929, †1997, Zwickau), Henrike Naumann investigates society‘s relationship with art from the former GDR. She sets paintings by the artist from Saxony into dialogue with her own, walk-through furniture installations.
Galerie im Turm was established in 1965 as the exhibition space of the GDR‘s Guild of Artists (Verband Bildender Künstler der DDR), before being integrated into the local administration as a municipal gallery in 1990. Karl Heinz Jakob, the grandfather of the artist, was himself a prominent member of the Guild, and was also active in other socialist states as a part of work-stay programmes. In order to support the career of her husband, Sigrid Jakob meanwhile decided against studying art and became a window dresser for the trade arm of the GDR.
Henrike Naumann creates expansive installations out of items of furniture, accessories and interior fittings in the ’Memphis’ style, which flooded East German markets at the beginning of the 1990s, largely in the form of cheap imitations. Through this, the artist showcases a particular aesthetic of the everyday that characterised lounge rooms of the newly federated states of Germany, separating that which preceded and that which followed reunification along the lines of style. In dialogue with the paintings of her grandfather, Naumann generates a constellation that, if not unfeasible, is certainly anachronistic, falling between social study and family therapy. What happens to state-funded art and its protagonists in the moment the state that once legitimised both collapses, leaving other narratives, references and international relations to assume control of the construction of meaning?