Henrike Naumann, Ostalgie (Urgesellschaft) (Ostalgie [Primal Society]), 2019, mixed media. Installation view.

Henrike Naumann


Henrike Naumann’s first exhibition at KOW was about history in the broadest sense of the term. More precisely, it was a reflection on memory and the mechanisms through which recent history is written by still more recent history, as well as a study of the ways in which the now defunct German Democratic Republic figured in collective East German memory during the 1990s. The exhibition’s title was the portmanteau word Ostalgie—a contraction of the German words for east and nostalgia—which has come to describe nostalgia for everyday life in East Germany before it was exposed to the hardships of capitalism. Needless to say, this nostalgia is not only a highly selective retrospective construction but it also has been given its own capitalist inflection, marketed through GDR memorabilia and club nights.

The exhibition’s reflexive approach—examining past forms of historical narrative in a manner

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