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Dietmar Kirves, Postkartenkassette, 1982
I cannot think of a nation that would be more torn like the Germans." Hölderlin (1780)

In many cities, in many places, on walls, billboards, construction trailers, corners of houses, ..., in short, on surfaces visible from afar, individual inscriptions are multiplying in a partly "alarming manner" for order-loving citizens who are attached to prosperity and consumption and fear for their own property. Described by some as "graffiti" in an aesthetically transfiguring way, this is the least accurate description of the situation. To dismiss these inscriptions politicizingly as "slogans" also makes clear the one-sidedness of the approach as an attitude and behavior of the viewers: these are the "others," the outsiders with whom we have nothing to do. An image of the enemy is created, as it is then projected into the public by the media, thereby becoming an opinion that "one" subscribes to, which in turn solidifies such attitudes.

Language, which is misused by politicians and the media as a means of "saying nothing" and "saying everything," which conceals more through speech than it wants to communicate, which as a production of "empty words" prevents the ability to engage in dialogue, is given a new meaning by these individual inscriptions, which in many cases is apt and thus makes people concerned: they become "statements" of a situation, a phenomenon of the times, a picture of the state of today's society.

However, it is not simply there, but has a history of development. A picture of the state that only became visible at the intersection of many factors that until now had been creeping into a seemingly well-functioning apparatus and had been massively suppressed as the first signs of a changing situation.

Now that these inscriptions on walls and walls name the condition - and thereby make people aware of it -, now that nothing can be suppressed, now that the threat of punishment neither improves nor undoes the situation, but rather makes it worse, helplessness enters the minds of people who, because of all the "work" for the future - the seemingly secure and yet increasingly uncertain - have lost sensitivity and feeling, have obscured their own view of their own inner life and that of their fellow human beings - even worse: that of their children! - because the view of objects - including their own houses, which are now being sprayed - seemed more important. Also more complicated. Perplexity as a sign of insecurity and uncertainty. In any case, however, as an effect of inability to comprehend more than what one can only attack and possess: Objects, at most one's own belly when it is really full.

It is not for nothing that Bert Brecht wrote that first comes food, then comes morality. Since it is too late in the present situation, however, even for morals, there is the danger that one resorts to violence (also just because one thinks to legitimize oneself with terms like "law and order"). "Argumentation aids" for this seem to be just these inscriptions, inscriptions, ... seem to be "argumentation aids" for this: as a fact of damage to property and as content at the same time: "BOMB VICTIM". One does not make the effort to check these inscriptions for their actual meant content, to question the situation which made them possible in the first place. The aggressive intention is assumed. One's own fear prevents. To understand and accept the form and content of the inscriptions as an instrument for conveying information - perhaps even as a cry for help? To understand, however, also as an information transfer, which is more direct, more honest, more aggressive and wittier, in short: ascertaining and not describing.

This inevitably contrasts with the language of the media, of the state, of adults, whose formal perfection in an impersonal manner of statement creates realities that do not (or no longer) correspond to reality. One forgets that directness and honesty in a world full of lies ("EVERYTHING LIES") must always seem aggressive, always has something to do with aggression - to make itself felt. However, less with the aggression of the one who sprays, carves, writes, paints such inscriptions on the wall, ... than with the aggression of those who feel attacked by it: by the consciousness of own repressed aggression, which otherwise expresses itself only in the contact with the own family, in sexual fantasies, in the traffic, ...

It is not one's own behavior that appears threatening, but always only that of the other. Fear of the other, as fear of his otherness, is often the unconscious fear of admitting one's own otherness, which is subject to the strongest repression, which manifests itself outwardly as defense. Defense implies one-sidedness of arguments. One-sidedness of the arguments means negation of the arguments of the other - in the special case of the "FESTSTELLUNGEN" - the argumentation ability of the "inscription producers".

The so-called speechlessness of the youth is only a rational paraphrase for the own repression mechanism. Just how little speechless this youth really is is shown by these very inscriptions, which testify to imagination and inventiveness. Which, if denial at all, is denial of a language that obscures the truth. A language, which does not serve any more the understanding, but at best the justification of own behavior and thereby also causes such behavior again and again!

The self-understanding of this youth needs no justification, which means only submission under behavior norms which are not the own. This self-conception needs only the feasible acceptance. That this self-conception is not free of fears, that there are commonalities to be found here, is proven by the pacifist inscriptions.

That it is also resignative is shown by others - "WE ARE THE TURKS OF TOMORROW" - "1984" - "WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WE WANT, BUT WE WANT IT WITH ALL THE STRENGTH" - and that commonalities are conjured up becomes clear among others in "You can't destroy us, because we are a part of you", "We all want to live", ..., little reason therefore to look only for the opposites: It remains the same rope on which we all pull, only little is understood that it must also be the same end!

Perhaps the "GOOD MORNING" in its intelligent ambiguity also helps to this realization, if one lets all expression variants of such a wish with heart melt on the tongue. So considered also the "hm..." remains not only synonym of a perhaps assumed perplexity, but becomes more fitting about the confirmation of a fact to the starting point of a conflict solution.

And one-sided would also remain the interpretation of "Take leave" in the sense of Hayden's farewell symphony or the wonderful blues title "Everytime l say good-bye, l died a little", but as an invitation to take leave of one's attitude, which always sees in the other only the perpetrator and never the victim. Perhaps that is why it is more true of fear than of hope: "IT WAS JUST A DREAM". - Jürgen Schweinebraden [1982]

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ABOUT JÜRGEN SCHWEINEBRADEN: Born with the name Jürgen Walther Herrmann Schweinebraden, he learned early to deal with the difficulties that such a name brings with it. - Whether at school or during his apprenticeship, whether studying psychology or industrial sociology, Jürgen Schweinebraden knows how to tell the many stories surrounding the trials and tribulations of his name with wit and charm. But more than these anecdotes, he is remembered for his commitment to art in the GDR. - The founding of his residential and alternative gallery "EP Galerie Jürgen Schweinebraden," with its exhibitions and musical events, made new art forms from Western Europe and West Germany, in particular, known in the GDR. Inspired by his example, over 30 similar galleries were opened throughout the GDR, most of which operated without any permission from the state. He thus contributed significantly to the creation of an artistic counter-public in the GDR. - After several administrative penal proceedings and a conviction for "producing illegal printed matter," he moved to West Germany in November 1980. Once there, he took on numerous posts in galleries and art associations, including director of the Kunstverein Hamburg. Today he works as a freelance gallery owner and publicist. © mdr, Leipzig 2002

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FESTSTELLUNGEN | Graffiti documentation | 33 original photo postcards | cassette, 15.3 x 10.9 x 1 cm | 100 Expl. | EP Edition Jürgen Schweinebraden, Niedenstein 1982 | Dietmar Kirves' FESTSTELLUNGEN, presented in this cassette in the quality of real photos, are more than just another contribution to the situation of documenting sponti-sayings and encouraging the SCENE. His interest and artistic concept is the language and gesture of those who spray these sayings on the wall.

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