EAST END! – Punk in East Germany (Photographs from 1980 – 84)

Sabine Bading, Brigitte Bludau Munroe, Christiane Eisler, Michael Lindner, Hans Praefke, Ilse Ruppert, Rudolf Schäfer

The year 1980 began the final decade in the short existence of the GDR. The early punk scene in East Berlin and Leipzig was a shrill signal of its impending collapse. The impact that the first punks had on East German society could only be compared with an invasion from outer space. Their garish appearance in the variegated grey of the East challenged the system of social control. Up to that point, the view of ‘the other’ was limited to Russian soldiers and Vietnamese guest workers, who remained largely invisible in society. The GDR was provincial, never familiar with the foreign. But punk made the other radically visible in the unitary state. The exhibition EAST END / Punk in der DDR (Fotografien 1980–84) (EAST END / Punk in the GDR [Photographs from 1980–84]) makes culture shock graphically visible: the invasion of the other in a thoroughly ideologised false idyll that saw itself within its narrow horizons as the navel of a better world.