Publicly owned property – Workers-collectives film their communal life A commented programme with films and film excerpts dealing with the notion of community in the GDR

Root Event

6. Werkleitz Biennale Common Property / Allgemeingut
Publicly owned property – Workers-collectives film their communal life A commented programme with films and film excerpts dealing with the notion of community in the GDR
Volkseigentum – Arbeiter-Kollektive filmen ihr Gemeinschaftsleben Ein kommentiertes Programm mit Filmen und Filmausschnitten zur Idee vom Gemeinwesen in der DDR

Publicly owned company. A very old utopia, realised and perverted in forty years GDR: everything belongs to everyone, everything we de benefits everyone. A paradisiacal idea. And what remains? What insights into the theme Common Property can the failed experiment “GDR” give? An excursion into everyday life at work in the GDR – filmed by the workers themselves – delivers an (ideologically tainted) portrait of the socialist polity. The Filmkollektiv des VEB Elektrochemisches Kombinat Bitterfeld, a typical folk art circle funded by the company, shot 16mm-films since the beginning of the 1950s, financed and in part commissioned by the company. Each film is a collective product, authors are not named, the copyright holder cannot be established: everything belonged/belongs to everyone. So after German reunification, many of these films remained unpossessed, some were thrown away. Approximately 140 films and film remnants are today stored in the Stadtarchiv and the Kreismuseum Bitterfeld.

The early films, Aufbau des Kulturpalastes (1953) and Eine kleine Geschichte aus unseren Tagen (1962), convey collective commitment filled with vigour. A frequent theme in the films were innovation proposals (Unsere Reserve: Rationalisierung, 1971): engineers and workers jointly developed new technologies to increase productivity and enhance the working conditions. They were acknowledged with collective awards and modest bonuses. In particular young people were motivated to participate in the innovation movement and exhibit their inventions at the MMM (Messe der Meister von Morgen / Fair of the Masters of Tomorrow), as a short television report from 1980 shows. The spirit of collectivity and the joy of inventing were increasingly appropriated and regimented by the state. The films of the Filmkollektiv also lose the innocence they possessed in the early years.

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