preparations: GDR books go selfemployed

preparations for my coming exhibitionThe preparations for my next exhibition are reaching the final ascent. Save the date: The vernissage will be on March 12, 2014. I will show my latest altered books Combinat 56, the creative coworking space in Munich.
story during metamorphosis I and II - Ines SeidelGDR books go self-employed. That is the title of my solo show which will feature paper works made from books printed in the GDR. Some of the books have been part of my childhood, others have been literally saved from being thrown into the trash can. 25 Jahre after the fall of the Berlin wall these books are leaving their passiveness and reinvent themselves. The break open and leave, they stop the torrent of words and embody their message with gestures and patterns. They reconciliate with their past and make suggestions for the future. These books have a lot in common with me and the citizens of the former GDR. But the experience of becoming independent connects them to all those who find themselves at a turning point in their development.

Out of difficult stories

out of a war story by Ines SeidelNot all the books that I am transforming are telling enchanting stories (as the fairy tales here). And I cannot look at all of the stories in the neutral attitude that I had for the zoo tales.
One such difficult book is “Der Wind stirbt vor dem Dschungel” (The wind dies before the jungle) by Harry Thürk. It tells the story of the colonial wars and persecution of communists in Malaya in the 1950s. I opened the pages at a part where one of the heroines is threatened with cruel torture. As a child in the GDR I foremost recognized the story as another version of the fable from the good, upright communists. I knew this pattern well enough and discarded the novel. Today I see it as a tale of conflict and war that had to be told and that is now ready for alchemic transformation.

pattern of dissolution by Ines Seidel
With mixed feelings I took to a copy of “10 days that shook the world” by journalist John Reed. He witnessed the October Revolution in Russia 1917 first hand and wrote his influential book about it. Yet, to me it has the aura of instrumentalized GDR literature. Which, of course, is not fair towards the American Reed, who already died in 1920.
pattern of dissolution (detail) by Ines Seidel
The altered book manifests breakup and dissolution: Fixed structures are ripped open, walls fall down and there is a glimpse of hopeful gold beneath. Yet, the fragments are bound and it is totally open, what new texture will eventually evolve. Just as it was with the October Revolution in 1917 and as it still is with the revolutions and upheavals of today.

book with fear and other patterns by Ines Seidel
Another difficult story is “Der Brief aus Odessa” (The letter from Odessa), a tiny book by GDR children’s book author Anne Geelhaar. The story is placed at the end of the Second World War in a German village and basically tells about the fear of the approaching Russians, from the perspective of a little girl. Of course, the Russian soldiers turn out to be trustworthy good men. I was interested in the pattern of fear, which is not restricted to this particular story. I wanted to show it as a pattern that is nothing but a pattern among others.