Substitut. Punk in the GDR 1979-1989
Punk culture in the GDR developed its own language, music and aesthetics. These constituted an open provocation to the existing system, fostering the notion of breaking with the conformity of everyday life under the regime of state socialism. In contrast to their role models in the UK who championed the slogan "no future", punks in the GDR feared "too much future", or the uniformity of prescribed and pre-determined life trajectories. 'Substitut', a privately run agency in Berlin, houses the most extensive archival collection relating to punk culture in the GDR. The archive grew out of 'Substitut's' numerous projects, including the 'production' of exhibitions and release of music compilations and publications.
Berlin Grabbeallee 48, Germany 13156
- Substitut. Punk in the GDR 1979 - 1989
Izcelsme un kultūras darbība
Punk culture in the GDR developed its own language, music and aesthetics. These constituted an open provocation to the existing system, fostering the notion of breaking with the conformity of everyday life under the regime of state socialism. In contrast to their role models in the UK who championed the slogan "no future", punks in the GDR feared "too much future", or the uniformity of prescribed and pre-determined life trajectories.
The founder of Substitut, Michael Boehlke, felt that the story of punks and punk culture in the GDR, including the role he played, needed to be told. Little was known publicly about either punk culture or the movement in the GDR until at the beginning of the 2000s, when Boehlke began to re-connect with his compatriots and to gather specific documents and materials. In 2005, after three years of conception and preparation, the exhibition "ostPUNK! - too much future " opened. The immense public response elicited by the exhibition, an accompanying book, as well as film (2006) inspired Boehlke to start his own archive.
Since then, he has received material from around one hundred individuals who bequeathed collections to 'Substitut'. Some of these materials extend far beyond punk subculture, its music, aesthetics and political forms of expression, stretching, for example, into the field of oppositional visual art. 'Substitut' used these materials to populate new exhibitions, answer numerous inquiries from international media outlets and create an image agency that manages usage rights for several photographers.
At times, the archive moved into public spaces, however, it was not possible for Boehlke as an individual to finance staff, employees, or the growing costs associated with running the archive of 'Substitut'. Today, 'Substitut's' collections can only be viewed on request.
According to Michael Boehlke, 'Substitut' has materials relating to every facet of 'punk-ness' in the GDR. These include nearly 1,000 songs, several hundred posters, event flyers, and homemade songbooks. Punks in the GDR were often members of, or had connections to members of various ‘subversive’ art scenes. Alongside well-known badges of punk culture, such as leather jackets and homemade studded bracelets, 'Substitut' also preserves paintings (Mita Schamal) and painted paper scrolls (Igor Tatschke aka "AG brick"). Furthermore, 'Substitut' manages usage rights for photographers (e.g. the Leipzig photographer Christiane Eisler).
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- Demeter, Laura
- Sonnenberg, Uwe
Boehlke, Michael, interview by Sonnenberg, Uwe, October 05, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection