Neue Stadt (of art and labour)

An essay in fragments and gaffa GDR Berlin

Scharnweberstr, Friedrichshain


Neue Stadt is an essay written on the surface of Berlin with gaffa tape, the Berlin that is already a cacophony of subcultural signs and graffiti. It is a commentary on the new realities of creative labour in the making of a New Berlin with a nod to the legacy of Berlin's self-made spaces like Bethanien and Tacheles; it is also a commentary on the fading legacy of the GDR in a neoliberal renewal of the city.


Neue Stadt began with the opportunity to work at funkhaus, the vast former GDR broadcasting headquarters, a monument to State Socialism's grandeur of civic vision and public service. Its sale after the collapse of the Berlin Wall is much documented, the bargain basement sell off of socialist era assets, inevitably followed by resale. Each cycle of sale and resale dilutes any political legacy of the GDR. Socialism becomes a toy Trabant that now sits in the foyer of a redeveloped funkhaus, decorative without any ideological dimensions.


Funkhaus, Nalepastrasse


And in the milchbar, the milchwoman who once served possibly thousands still works here - for now. She speaks no English but we get on. In another year, like everything here, the milchbar will get its makeover and there will be no place for her.


On either side of the cavernous funkhaus corridors are dusty studios where the only possible workers can be artists - at present. They are the only workers who can use such spaces and so be the bridge to a rehabilitation of the space.



At funkhaus, labour of the artist exists in the knowledge that it is transient, it serves the purpose of the time. A wageless labour that could be redeemed as labour if frozen by Capital as Art. Then it can stay - for as long as it wants.


Funkhaus, Nalepastrasse


The fragments bring to surface an unwritten history of labour with its hidden utopia. The utopia is the consumation of labour when the cycle of silent unfulfilled labour will come to a stop and out of it all will come a new creativity, the universal labour of a new state - for a Neue Stadt of art and labour.


Schönhauser Allee, Prenzlauer Berg


The artist-led studio shows lighthaus at funkhaus are the initiative of Gabriele Aicardi.
The theme of the September 2015 lighthaus was Neue Stadt

(Transferred from xyzlondon 2017)