The Berlin-based sociologist and artist Wenke Seemann experienced East Germany as a child and explores this in a long-term art project entitled Archivdialoge (Archive Dialogues). The three-part work developed for ocular witness: PIG CONSCIOUSNESS fits in here. Seemann can thankfully draw on the archive of the farmer Anton Stettner. In 1987, 21-year old Stettner was one of the first five West German participants in an agricultural trainee exchange between Germany East and West.¹ He built up his huge archive of slides with a view to future lectures and reports on practical experience in his home country. Seemann chooses photographs of agriculturally used land, overlaying them with the names of agricultural production cooperatives (LPGs). With labour migrating to heavy industry, the LPGs, which were founded on the Soviet model by putting pressure on the owners of farmland and livestock, were intended to safeguard the food supply through large-scale cultivation and the concentration of livestock farming. Names like “Neue Hoffnung” (“New Hope”) and “Frischer Mut” (“Fresh Courage”) testify to the determination to oppose the experiences of the past with a hopeful vision for the future.
Accompanying this is an installation consisting of two so-called Specki-Tonnen (roughly “bacon bins”). Inspired by the National Socialist prewar economy, leftovers of the food highly subsidised in East Germany were collected in them as pig feed. A rubber band looped around the bins refers to the level of children’s games and childhood memories. The underlying planned-economy drive for growth in East German agriculture is literally inscribed in a text graphic that takes up the format of the living space allocated to conventionally farmed pigs and its grid pattern.
¹ Hans-Jürgen Schulze-Eggert and Walter Sperlich, “Wohl den wenigsten bekannt: Der Austausch landwirtschaftlicher Praktikanten zwischen der BRD und der DDR”, in: Der goldene Pflug. Agrarhistorische Zeitschrift für Freunde des Deutschen Landwirtschaftsmuseums 19/2004, pp. 36–40.
Born in 1978, Rostock; lives in Berlin
• 1997–2005 Studied philosophy and social sciences at the University of Rostock and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin • 2010 Trained as an art photographer at imago Fotokunst, Berlin
E 2023 Revolutionary Romances, Albertinum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden Musterstadt Ost, EMOP, Meinblau Projektraum, Berlin • 2022 Utopie auf Platte, Kunsthalle Rostock (SE); Worin unsere Stärke besteht. 50 Künstlerinnen aus der DDR, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Berlin • 2018 Transformare. Religionen in der Stadt, Guardini Galerie, Berlin; Next Image. The Past of the Future, Daegu Photo Biennale, Daegu, KR; In between. TraumWelten. Von Träumen und Leben, Kunsthalle Talstrasse, Halle