Outsiders- Urban subcultures in Germany and Pakistan

Presented by the Goethe-Institut Pakistan in collaboration with Amin Gulgee Gallery

Urban subcultures in Germany and Pakistan. Brilliant Dilletantes in dialogue.
16 April 2018 – 30 April, 2018

From April, the Goethe-Institut Pakistan, in collaboration with Amin Gulgee Gallery is thrilled to present the Outsiders, a curated event series that showcases the intense flurry of cultural activity that was the ‘Brilliant Dilletantes’ subculture in 1980s Berlin and across Germany, curated by Mathilde Weh and Leonhard Emmerling.
A dialogue will be incited between this German exhibition and a Pakistani counterpart, curated by Amin Gulgee, Zarmeene Shah and Zeerak Ahmed. Posed as a response to the German exhibition, the Pakistani segment explores notions of sub/counter-culture in the country, investigating myriad forms of this from the 1970s to present day. By no means a definitive survey of this, the exhibition in fact attempts to prompt a series of questions that investigate the idea of counter culture in the Pakistani context, a layered and complex line of enquiry in a country that is marked as just over 70 years old but with a history that extends thousands of years in its regional and socio-political implications. As such, questions of what is then ‘culture’ become integral to the definition of its converse, ‘counter culture’, This is further problematized by Pakistan’s own political and cultural narrative, which has remained (sometimes violently) in a seemingly perpetual state of flux, coming to define, over various periods, what is seen as cultural and thus counter-cultural as per the dictates of its times, its modes of governance, and its politico-juridical structures.

The exciting program of exceptional artistry is anchored by the international touring exhibition Brilliant Dilletantes (Geniale Dilletanten) at Amin Gulgee Gallery in Karachi, which is accompanied by live performances, film screenings and panel discussions in featuring revered artists and experimental musicians. Since the early 1980s particularly Berlin has been a magnet and inspiration for international artists such as Nick Cave, The Necks, David Bowie, and Brian Eno. Munich-based curator Mathilde Weh said, “The Goethe-Institut is delighted to bring Geniale Dilletanten to Pakistan. The incredible influence of the movement’s DIY aesthetics still felt in Germany and internationally today and continues to inform contemporary artistic practice.” Curator Leonhard Emmerling will come for the opening of the exhibition.

The Pakistani show within the exhibition ‘Outsiders’ investigates counter-cultural expressions in the country from the 1970s to the present day, as witnessed in diverse formations and iterations. These are then presented through the lens of social and political activism in art, the subversion of gender roles as explored through various mediums and utterances, the possibilities within and dissemination of subcultural conversations through the emergence of social media platforms, and various modes of this as encountered in music, television, film, fashion, photography, performance, as well as particular and individualistic expressions in Pakistani society through the last several decades.

Geniale Dilletanten was the term used to announce a concert held in Berlin’s Tempodrom in 1981. The deliberately misspelled title has become synonymous with an era of artistic upheaval in Germany that brought the country’s edgy artistic scene international recognition. Exploding from its roots in German art schools, punk rock and Dada, the movement represented a radical departure from the mainstream, marked by cross-genre experimentation, the use of new electronic equipment, and adopting German rather than English as the language for lyrics and band names.

The Geniale Dilletanten exhibition illustrates the movement’s extraordinary innovative spectrum through portraits of seven key experimental bands – Einstürzende Neubauten, Die Tödliche Doris, Der Plan, Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle (F.S.K.), Palais Schaumburg, Ornament und Verbrechen, and Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft (D.A.F.) – as well as visual artists, filmmakers and designers from West and East Germany and Pakistani
Exploring the simultaneous rapid, rebellious developments in art, film, fashion and design, Geniale Dilletanten is the most comprehensive survey of the 1980s German subculture to date, incorporating a rich array of video and photographic material, interview films, audio samples, magazines, posters and other artefacts capturing the bold and daring scene.

Complementing the Geniale Dilletanten exhibition in Karachi are one-off panel discussions and performances that further examine the legacy of German subcultures and bring it to life for new audiences, featuring celebrated members such as Robert Lippok, member of the legendary East German band Ornament und Verbrechen, and Wolfgang Burat who documented the scene since day one.
Wolfgang Burat, Cologne, is a German photographer and co-founder of the legendary German music magazine Spex, and in the 80s he photographed bands, musicians, fans, live gigs, backstage situations and artists. His photographic gaze set the visual impact of this important magazine and beyond. His complete body of work is of utmost relevance for social and music history, pop theory and art history. Many of his photos are on view in the exhibition. He will offer a talk and also a workshop on photography at Habib University.
Filmmaker Marco Wilms will show his film “Comrade Couture”, a journey into the world of the fashionistas and Bohemians of East Berlin in the 80s. A fantasy world within East Germany’s restricted everyday life. Director Marco Wilms was himself a model at GDR’s fashion institute. He will offer a three days workshop “Guerilla Filmmaking”.

Markus Heidingsfelder, Karachi, is a German media theorist and documentary filmmaker, teaching at Habib University. He started out as a journalist and belonged to the second generation of Spex Magazine, where he collaborated with Wolfgang Burat as his favorite photographer for many articles (he is even caught as part of an enthusiastic Palais Schaumburg audience in the exhibition catalogue). According to pop scholar Ralf Hinz, it was especially Markus Heidingsfelder who managed to establish a unique style of writing that captured the essence of the new forms of pop music emerging at the beginning of the 80s.

Taking 1980s Berlin to the big screen, Urban Subcultures includes screening of B-Movie: Lust and Sound in West Berlin. Premiering at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival and enjoying glowing reviews worldwide at Film Festivals, B-Movie is a documentary and personal account of the music, art and chaos in West Berlin of the 1980s by musician and producer Mark Reeder. Featuring original interviews and archival footage from iconic musicians Blixa Bargeld (Einstürzende Neubauten), Joy Division, Nick Cave, Nena and more, B-Movie offers an intimate portrait of life in the extraordinary walled-in city.

On urban subcultures in Germany and Pakistan. Brilliant Dilletantes in dialogue.

Exhibition: Geniale Dilletanten • Mon 16 April – Mon 30 April 2018 • 5pm – 8 pm • Amin Gulgee Gallery
Introduction and Talk: Zarmeene Shah, Leonhard Emmerling, Markus Heidingsfelder • Tue 17 April 2018 • 5 pm • Amin Gulgee Gallery
Film Screening: “Comrade Couture” with the director Marco Wilms • Sat 21 April 2018 • Goethe-Institut
Film Screening: “B-Movie: Lust and Sound in West Berlin” • Sat 28 April• Goethe-Institut
Lecture and Panel Discussion: Influence and Legacy of German Subculture: Wolfgang Burat
Workshop Guerilla Filmmaking with Marco Wilms: 17 – 19 April 2018
Workshop Photography with Wolfgang Burat. Habib University
Talk: Robert Lippok • Fri 20 April 2018 • 5 pm • Amin Gulgee Gallery
Concert: Robert Lippok • Fri 20 April 2018 • 8pm • Amin Gulgee Gallery

The Geniale Dilletanten exhibition is co-presented by the Goethe-Institut and Amin Gulgee Gallery in Karachi.


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