The events in Südvorstadt took place in cooperation with Verein der Vietnamesen in Dresden e.V..

The Treffpunkt ostZONE events in the Südvorstadt took place in cooperation with Verein der Vietnamesen in Dresden e.V..

01.10.2021 – Market café

„Tailoring and sewing: GDR – today“ with the artist Xenia Gorodnia

Jeans are important. In the GDR era, Vietnamese contract workers sewed the pants with cult status. Bui Thu Hien, Thran Hung, Hung Cao The, Truong Binh and Han tell us how they sat down at the machines in their dormitories after work. Different brands, but Levi’s and Wrangler were the rage. The pockets in the back – quickly sew a certain pattern – and it was a branded pair of jeans. But the rivets? Hung Cao The brought some: He lays them on the floor, takes a hammer out, and the rivets sit perfectly in the fabric. Then he stones them over the wet fabric – stonewashed. The perfect Levi’s. Many questions follow. Today, Bui Thu Hien runs an alteration tailor shop.

Xenia Gorodnia begins to sew during the testimonies. But the sewing machine is too loud. She therefore draws along. When Bui Thu Hien demonstrates on the machine how quickly she can sew a Corona mask, Xenia begins to “draw” with her sewing machine at the same time. A jeans picture is created.

Xenia Gorodnia: Sewn fabric collage – fabric picture
“While in the event the former Vietnamese contract workers talked about their work and everyday life in the GDR era and exchanged ideas with the participants, I picked out some concise key terms from these conversations and captured them in a special way. One of the big topics of discussion was the Veritas sewing machine, which was very popular in the GDR and which I was kindly provided with, and with which I was able to visually depict the terms by sewing them as pictures, words or numbers onto a white piece of fabric. This created motifs on the piece of fabric such as the Veritas sewing machine itself, jeans pants, their types of pockets and rivets, or various numbers representing wages at the time or the square footage of living space and number of people living there.” (Xenia Gorodnia)

01.10.2021 – District walk

„Südvorstadt remember“ with Bui Truong Binh, Hung Cao The and the artist Xenia Gorodnia

Südvorstadt has changed. Only one apartment block still stands, where Vietnamese lived in GDR times. Bui and Hung talk about it. We continue to Gutzkowstraße 30, up the wide stairs to the 3rd floor. Amitabha Learning Center. TinhTong Hoc Hoi opens the door. He has lived in Dresden for a long time. Takes us with him, next door. Take off shoes. Entering. Astonishment. A Vietnamese Buddhist temple room. Lovingly decorated. Golden statues. Buddha. Seat cushions. Every morning at 5 a.m. TinhTong meditates for three hours. On weekends, many Vietnamese speakers join in. A warm invitation. We continue into the yard of the house. Into the cellar. A sign: Verein der Vietnamesen in Dresden e.V. Huge. Rehearsal room for the women’s choir. Recording studio set up. Club room. Photos of celebrations. Socializing is very important. Many cups of the own soccer team.

Change of perspective: back in the room, Xenia Gorodnia guides us to record our impressions with the left. We sat next to each other and rejoiced. New experience.

Xenia Gorodnia: Printed poster with collages from participants
“Before the district walk in Südvorstadt, which introduced two important places of the Vietnamese diaspora, the participants were given the task of remembering two to three terms that they would encounter during this short journey. Afterwards, all the terms were collected together, among which were such terms as “meditation”, since the walk led to a Buddhist temple, or “stone washing”, which was one of the fabric processing steps in the copying of Western jeans by Vietnamese contract workers in the GDR under domestic conditions. Since overarching themes such as integration and assimilation repeatedly played an important role during the event, my goal was to exercise an experimental artistic technique with the participants that, at least in terms of fine motor skills, bears a close resemblance to integrative and/or assimilative processes that imply, among other things, learning something new and/or coming to terms with prejudices. Since my two questions – “Can anyone draw well?” and “Can anyone draw with left?” – were answered by all with “No”, the participants got the task to draw the collected terms with the left hand. Afterwards they talked about this exciting experience. I combined the resulting drawings into a picture using digital processing and the collage technique.” (Xenia Gorodnia)

02. & 09.10.2021 – Biografie-Kunstworkshop

Two workshop days with the artists Janina Kracht and Xenia Gorodnia

Day 1 The room is nice and warm. Xenia has prepared two small tables with the technology for the stop-motion films. Janina’s materials, sheets for folding paper cubes, 3D plaster molds, colorful cardboard, paper and pencils are ready.

Janina holds up a sheet of paper during the introductions. Lines and patterns. Questioning faces. Explanations about art in construction. Her father, Friedrich Kracht, developed the serial shaped stone system. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was no longer used. We can symbolically bring it to life today.

Xenia asks us for keywords about the GDR era. Trabant, Poliklinik, Apparatschik, LPG, Habicht, the terms bubble up. With eyes closed, we have to name typical GDR colors. Rather pale colors. Inge protests. Orange, bright orange. Distributing the sheets of paper. Painting. Immediately, different elements emerge. Fascination. Are there memories associated with them? Do these shapes still exist in Dresden? Are there formative architectures in your native city?

Xenia demonstrates at the stop-motion stations how to move the finished cubes and plaster molds under the cell phone. Depicting life stories with color cubes.

Janina Kracht: Molded Stone Systems | Xenia Gorodnia: Stop-Motion Movies
Playing with GDR Art. The Formstein System of the Artists Karl-Heinz Adler and Friedrich Kracht (1970-1990)
The serial Formstein system consists of 12 basic stones with simple graphic basic elements and offers a variety of designs in terms of color and form, which can have different characters from strictly geometric to pictorial ornamental. In the workshop, these 60-year-old basic forms were worked on by the workshop participants on paper or with plaster stone forms through free design with colors, structures and other graphic treatments and combined to form new combinations. For example, typical colors from everyday life in the GDR were collected and used for the color design of the molded stones. 
The designed elements were staged in short film sequences using the stop-motion technique and playfully animated into patterns and changing graphic figures. With paper cubes and 3D plaster molded bricks of the molded brick system, spatial variants of the design were tested and combined to form imaginative structures. The playful handling of colors and forms allowed a new view of the old art of the GDR era.” (Janina Kracht and Xenia Gorodnia)

Day 2. The participants have prepared themselves well. Documents and mementos are brought out. Everyone wants to get started right away.

Wolfgang shows a newspaper article. His experiences in 1977 with the NVA. The harvest command. Help with the sugar beet harvest as armed bodies. The most important thing was not there: A comrade was suddenly missing. He is found at the organ in the church, engrossed in a piece by Bach. Hung tells of Moritzburg, Ho Chi Minh and the GDR. In 1955, 59 Vietnamese children came to the Käthe Kollwitz children’s home. In 1956, almost 200 went to the Maxim Gorki Home in Dresden. He recently met one of the caregivers. 90 years. How to remember? Concentrated work at the long table. Conversations along the way. The children paint horses. Their presence.

What remains? The colorful plaster molds, the paper cubes, the stop-motion films, the pictures and the letters. Impressive testimonies of biography work through art.

The project Treffpunkt ostZONE. Remember and Shape is funded by the House of Resources Dresden +. This measure is co-financed with tax funds on the basis of the budget passed by the Saxon state parliament within the framework of the state program Integrative Measures.