"Geniale Dilletanten" [Genial Dilletantes]: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s

EXHIBITION 26.06 – 11.10.15

"Geniale Dilletanten" [Genial Dilletantes], the deliberately misspelled title of the concert held in Berlin's Tempodrom in 1981, has become a synonym for a brief era of artistic upheaval in Germany. The intense cultural activity of this period developed particularly in and around art schools and was marked by cross-genre experimentation and the use of new electronic equipment; musical craftsmanship was frequently spurned. The emergence of new record labels, magazines, galleries and clubs, as well as the plethora of independently produced records, tapes and concerts, illustrate the growth of self-organisation and the do-it-yourself spirit of this period. By adopting German rather than English as the language for song lyrics and band names, the protagonists of this new scene set themselves apart from the mainstream, giving credence to the movement's claim to be representing a radical new departure. Its vociferous protest and targeted provocation also brought Germany's alternative artistic scene international acclaim and recognition.

To illustrate the extraordinary innovative spectrum of this subculture the exhibition presents the work of seven bands, in addition to various artists, filmmakers and designers from the most stimulating cities and regions in West and East Germany. The bands profiled in the show include the "Einstürzende Neubauten" [Collapsing New Buildings], a project that explored the boundaries between music and noise using instruments made from scrap metal and everyday objects; "Die Tödliche Doris" [The Deadly Doris], which experimented with various artistic forms such as music, film, photography, object art and painting; "Der Plan" [The Plan], which emerged from an art gallery and performed in surreal costumes, singing ironic, sarcastic lyrics; and the band "Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle (F.S.K)" [Voluntary Self-Control], founded by contributors to the underground magazine "Mode & Verzweiflung" [Fashion & Despair], which focused in particular on moments of cultural disparity and rejected the idea of authenticity. One of F.S.K.'s best-known slogans was "Disco today, revolution tomorrow, an outing to the country the day after tomorrow. This is what we call voluntary self-control" (1980). Also included in the exhibition is the band "Palais Schaumburg" [Schaumburg Palace], whose music gained its particular character from the combination of synthesizers and sampling devices accompanied by trumpet and bizarre, atonally recited vocals. In addition, in defiance of difficult circumstances, various East Berlin artists and musicians were engaged in the avant-garde band project "Ornament und Verbrechen" [Ornament and Crime], which was influenced by jazz, industrial and electronic music. Finally, the West German duo "Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft (D.A.F.)" [German-American Friendship] combined provocative texts with hard drumbeats, coupled with synthesizer sounds and a stage show caught between ecstatic frenzy and tumult.

The extensive exhibition presents the protagonists and venues of artistic milieus in different German cities, offering insight into a broad variety of networks as well as exploring simultaneous developments in art, film, fashion and design. Incorporating an interview film produced especially for the exhibition, a rich array of video and photographic material, audio samples, magazines, posters and other artefacts documenting the scene, this most comprehensive presentation to date of German subculture in the 1980s will also be accompanied by a wide-ranging programme of events that includes concerts and symposia.

The films shown in the exhibition were made by Yana Yo, Helge Leiberg, Brigitte Bühler & Dieter Hormel, Norbert Meissner, Christoph Doering, Ramona Welsh, Reinhard Bock, and Knut Hoffmeister.

"Genial Dilletantes" was conceived as a Goethe-Institut touring exhibition and has been considerably expanded for its presentation at the Haus der Kunst. The exhibition has been curated by Mathilde Weh, deputy director of the department of visual arts at the Goethe-Institut.


Media partner

Cultural partner

Ratten Jenny, 1987, photo by Jürgen Gässler
Ratten Jenny, 1987, photo by Jürgen Gässler
Alex Hacke playing with Kiddy Citny (in the band Sprung aus den Wolken) to a small audience: Silvie Langenfeld (3rd from left), Blixa Bargeld (Einstürzende Neubauten, 4th from left), Risiko, Berlin, 1981, photo Anno Dittmer
Alex Hacke playing with Kiddy Citny (in the band Sprung aus den Wolken) to a small audience: Silvie Langenfeld (3rd from left), Blixa Bargeld (Einstürzende Neubauten, 4th from left), Risiko, Berlin, 1981, photo Anno Dittmer
Fashion show
Fashion show "Vanitas" of Scheederbauer, Frontkino, Berlin, 1986, photo Eva Maria Ocherbauer
Claudia Skoda, Berlin fashion designer, with a floor collage designed for her by the artist Martin Kippenberger, West-Berlin, 1984, Foto Ilse Ruppert
Claudia Skoda, Berlin fashion designer, with a floor collage designed for her by the artist Martin Kippenberger, West-Berlin, 1984, Foto Ilse Ruppert
Der Plan, Es ist eine Fremde und seltsame Welt (It's an Alien and Strange world), 1985, photo Der Plan
Der Plan, Es ist eine Fremde und seltsame Welt (It's an Alien and Strange world), 1985, photo Der Plan
Einstürzende Neubauten at documenta 7, from left to right Mark Chung, Blixa Bargeld, N. U. Unruh, FM Einheit, Fridericianum, Kassel, 1982, photo Peter Gruchot
Einstürzende Neubauten at documenta 7, from left to right Mark Chung, Blixa Bargeld, N. U. Unruh, FM Einheit, Fridericianum, Kassel, 1982, photo Peter Gruchot
FM Einheit, concert Einstürzende Neubauten, Bochum, 1982, photo Wolfgang Burat
FM Einheit, concert Einstürzende Neubauten, Bochum, 1982, photo Wolfgang Burat
Ornament und Verbrechen, from left to right Bo Kondren, N.N., Ronald Lippok, Robert Lippok, Alexander Wolf, Kino Babylon, Berlin, 1987, photo Hartmut Beil
Ornament und Verbrechen, from left to right Bo Kondren, N.N., Ronald Lippok, Robert Lippok, Alexander Wolf, Kino Babylon, Berlin, 1987, photo Hartmut Beil
Punk in East Berlin, 1982, photo Ilse Ruppert
Punk in East Berlin, 1982, photo Ilse Ruppert
Penny Lane's hair salon (double exposure), exhibition of
Penny Lane's hair salon (double exposure), exhibition of "Penny Lane is in my brain" by Anno Dittmer, Berlin, 1983, photo Anno Dittmer
Die Tödliche Doris, GTO-Festival, The Kitchen, New York, 1984, photo Nan Goldin, xeroxes from the collection of Wolfgang Müller
Die Tödliche Doris, GTO-Festival, The Kitchen, New York, 1984, photo Nan Goldin, xeroxes from the collection of Wolfgang Müller
Ornament und Verbrechen, Snare Drum, 5-litre canister of FIT washing-up liquid, Lego bricks, replica 2014
Ornament und Verbrechen, Snare Drum, 5-litre canister of FIT washing-up liquid, Lego bricks, replica 2014
"Geniale Dilletanten" [Genial Dilletantes]: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, photo Wilfried Petzi
"Geniale Dilletanten" [Genial Dilletantes]: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, photo Wilfried Petzi
"Geniale Dilletanten" [Genial Dilletantes]: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, photo Wilfried Petzi
"Geniale Dilletanten" [Genial Dilletantes]: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, photo Wilfried Petzi
"Geniale Dilletanten" [Genial Dilletantes]: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, photo Wilfried Petzi
"Geniale Dilletanten" [Genial Dilletantes]: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, photo Wilfried Petzi
"Geniale Dilletanten" [Genial Dilletantes]: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, photo Wilfried Petzi
"Geniale Dilletanten" [Genial Dilletantes]: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, photo Wilfried Petzi
"Geniale Dilletanten" [Genial Dilletantes]: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2015, photo Wilfried Petzi

Stretch your view


Stretch your view

Picture Gallery


Twitter

"Genial Dilletantes": Post your own photograph!

Send or upload your own photographs from the 1980s on Twitter and Instagram: Hashtag #HDKdilletanten or #hausderkunst. MORE


Video

Exhibition film — "Geniale Dilletanten"

Film on the exhibition "'Geniale Dilletanten' [Genial Dilletantes]: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s" MORE


discussion

When no-skill was productive – Subculture in Germany in the 1980s

20.07.15

Diedrich Diederichsen, Michaela Melián, and Wolfgang Müller will have a discussion on the German subculture in the 1980s: What became of it, and are subcultural movements still possible or necessary today? Moderated by Roderich Fabian. MORE


Interview

Diedrich Diederichsen: Genial Dilletantes – "When no-skill was productive"

An interview with Diedrich Diederichsen about creative dilettantism in the 1980s. A panel discussion with Diederichsen will take place on 20.7 at 7 pm in Haus der Kunst as part of the "Genial Dilletantes" exhibition. MORE


"Geniale Dilletanten Festival" (1981)

On September 4, 1981, the now legendary "Geniale Dillettanten Festival" took place in Berlin's Tempodrom. MORE


Worksheets

Worksheets on the exhibition "Geniale Dilletanten"

Here you find worksheets on the exhibition "'Geniale Dilletanten' [Genial Dilletantes]: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s" for school classes 10 to 12 MORE


Video

Film: "Genial Dilettantes – No Wave" (2009)

"Genial Dilettantes – No Wave" (2009) is a film about the 1980s music, art, and film scene in Berlin and New York. MORE


Poster

"Geniale Dilletanten" [Genial Dilletantes]: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s

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Concert, Video

EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN

27.06.15

As part of the exhibition '''Geniale Dilletanten' [Brilliant Dilletantes]: Subculture in Germany in the 1980s", the Berlin band EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN will perform in concert. MORE


EXHIBITION

Berlin — Capital of the Republic

24.04 – 12.07.98

Shortly after the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, the 22-year-old photographer Bernard Larsson moved to East Berlin. He lived there until 1968 and, using his Swedish passport, worked as a "wall jumper" for Western television and magazines, including "Stern" magazine, a German newsweekly. MORE


Poster

Festival of Independents

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