The most revealing instances of this complex intersection of post-communist, post-imperial and post-colonial discourses and imaginaries are to be found not in scholarly publications or official state policies, but rather in the arts, cinema, theater, and fiction.
–Madina Tlostanova, 2012

Active since 2016, D’EST is a feminist infrastructure, platform and archive for video art, experimental and documentary film nurtured by the art space and community center District Berlin in collaboration with numerous international curators, artists and cultural organizations. D’EST maps artistic forms of historiography at the intersection of post-socialist, feminist and decolonial narratives and imaginaries. In the course of the last five years, D’EST, in collaboration with 19 international curators, 57 predominantly feminist and queer artists and collectives, and other cultural experts, published a total of 8 screening chapters reflecting on the post-socialist transformation after 1989/91. The project title D’EST (“From the East”) is borrowed from the eponymous 1993 work of the deceased filmmaker Chantal Akerman (1950–2015). In From the East’s sensitive, cinematic travelog of transformation, the artist – the daughter of survivors of the Holocaust in Poland – captures emblematic images of women waiting in a moment of hiatus just after the end of the Cold War.

Questions about the significance of the phase of post-socialist transformation for today’s Pan-European or even global condition have met with unsatisfactory answers. D’EST was first launched in the fall of 2016 with the support of the AFCN (National Cultural Fund Administration, Romania) and a presentation of twelve artists, collectives and other cultural experts in the cinema hall of the Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, and online. The screening D’EST Prolog: O’ Mystical East and West took a look at mutual stereotypes, clichés and myths surrounding the “East” and “West” and the video works are still accessible online. In 2017, D’EST was a guest at the WRO Media Art Biennial, and from spring to end of 2018, the next phase began: with the help of the multi-sector funding City Tax, six new screening chapters were created throughout the year in collaboration with 15 international curators who collaborated in teams and invited 31 artists and collectives. The screening chapters are an impressive compilation of thematic fields that illuminate post-socialism from post-geographical, horizontal and feminist perspectives, but above all emphasize the transcultural dialog between “Eastern” and “Western” positions and the dissolution of this bipolarity. Currently, eight diverse screening chapters are accessible on our online platform.

The thematic fields of these screening chapters are closely related to the post-socialist transformation and include conceptual paradigms such as temporality, language and semantics, body fictionality and urban cosmetics, indexical reading exercises, familial and non-genetic ties, futurological as well as botanical investigations, among others. As of 2019, the funding had expired and yet, due to its high-quality artists and selection of works, D’EST received numerous thematic invitations for screening events in the framework of international festivals and exhibitions from Toksi-Line Festival in Tallinn, Martovski Festival in Belgrade, Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art in Riga and District Berlin, Scriptings Berlin, the symposium Unstable Monuments in Plovdiv, Easterndaze Festival as well as the Befem Festival in Belgrade. For the majority of these hosts, screening evenings have been put together from the existing works on the platform and new additions. In 2020, D’EST was also invited by institutions such as Moderna Galerija in Ljubljana, etc. gallery in Prague, by a working group of the neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst Berlin, by the Kaunas Artists’ House and by the PAF Olomouc Festival in the Czech Republic. This constant demand for visibility of post-socialist video art can be reaffirmed, despite the pandemic, also in 2021 in view of the cooperation with Künstlerhaus Bremen, the etc. gallery in Prague and the Kaunas Artists’ House (both for the 2nd time). Since its founding, D’EST has remained active and continued to grow as a platform and network of post-socialist cultural practitioners.

Please visit our Program page to follow future screening destinations for our online platform. Programmed by Modem Studio, the platform serves as an artistic space, research tool, and information resource for art connoisseurs, institutionally based and freelance curators, artists, historians, journalists, and critics. To be able to see all content available on the website, visitors will first have to register with the site.

If you are interested in our project, please register with our website or sign up below for the regular newsletter.

D’EST: A Multi-Curatorial Online Platform for Video Art from the Former ‘East’ and ‘West’ is a project directed by Ulrike Gerhardt and Suza Husse with District Berlin. In 2018, D’EST was hosted in cooperation with the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA); the Goethe Institute Moscow; the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf; Filmwerkstatt Düsseldorf; the Galeria Miejska Arsenał, Poznań; Pawilon, Poznań; and the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein Video-Forum. This project was made possible through the generous support of the Senate Chancellery Berlin – Department of Culture. Since 2019 D’EST has received project-related financial grants from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and the Goethe Institute, among others, as well as from all the inviting institutions. The successful 5-year history of D’EST proves that the project is ready to move on to the next funded phase.

Team

  • Andrea Caroline Keppler

    Andrea Caroline Keppler is the project manager and co-curator of District Berlin. She holds an M.A. in history of art and cultural studies (University of Leipzig and University of Rome “La Sapienza”). In her career, she has worked at ZKM Karlsruhe, at Institut Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt, at Raussmüller Collection Basel, and Hallen für Neue Kunst in Schaffhausen. She curated the exhibition projects Trümmerberg Kilimanjaro (2016) and Art of the Revolt // The Revolt of Art (2018) among others. She is co-initiator of the intersectional alliance Decolonizing 68 and Feminist Curating. Her current interest lies in the artistic examination of the political and cultural visions and discourses of the 1960s.

  • Dana Andrei

    Dana Andrei worked as a research assistant for D’EST Prologue: O’ Mystical East and West until July 2016. She was part of the team for the curatorial program Salonul de Proiecte (initiated by Alexandra Croitoru and Magda Radu, together with Ștefan Sava) between 2012 and 2015 and has been collaborating in various forms with the curatorial team of Atelier 35 (Xandra Popescu and Larisa Crunțeanu) since 2015. She is the editor of the publications Dear Money and In Search of the Social Body of the Soviet Artist by Tatiana Fiodorova. Together with Sorin Popescu and Raluca Voinea, she is the founder and editor of Corner Magazine.

  • Johanna Ekenhorst

    Johanna Ekenhorst is a student of Art History and English Cultural Studies at the University of Leipzig, currently writing her BA thesis on the reception of Afghan War Rugs carrying 9/11 imagery. In 2015 she was involved in Henrike Naumann’s project The Museum of Trance. During her studies she co-curated the supporting program of the 91st Kunsthistorischer Studierendenkongress 2016 in Leipzig under the title Vermeintlich anders – Das Fremde in der Kunst and assisted in the inaugural edition of Shanghai Project, a multidisciplinary ideas platform organized by Shanghai Himalayas Museum. Since 2017, she has worked at District Berlin as its public relations manager, as head of communication for D’EST and as an assistant for Discoteca Flaming Star.

  • Madalena B. Guerra

    Madalena B. Guerra is a Portuguese graphic designer. Based in Lisbon, her practice works between Lisbon, London, and Berlin with a wide range of people and small businesses from the fields of art, architecture, film, and culture. Past and current collaborations include projects with curator Marta Jecu, fashion label Wool and the Gang, Modem Studio, Jenny Sabin Studio, uncube magazine, and Barnbrook Studio. She studied communication design and new media at University of Fine Arts in Lisbon (B.A. 2010 and M.A. 2013) and graduated with a thesis entitled Open Work: Alienation as a Form of Critical Discourse for Communication Design. She is currently organizing an artist-in-residence summer program in Portugal and, starting 2018, is working as a Modem Studio member for D’EST.

    www.modem.ws
  • Naomi Hennig

    Naomi Hennig lives in Berlin, where she works as researcher, artist, curator, editor, and project coordinator for D’EST. She graduated from ECA Edinburgh and UdK Berlin and has since been involved in a number of artist-run initiatives. She collaborated in curatorial projects including an exhibition on the Artist Placement Group (APG) with Ulrike Jordan, presented at Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Berlin, and Summerhall, Edinburgh (2015/16). She co-curated the research and exhibition project Spaceship Yugoslavia at nGbK Berlin in 2012. Between 2013 and 2015, she organized the exhibition program at Galerie im Turm. Her artistic and curatorial research revolves around the memorialization of political micro-histories, as well as the relationships of place, history, ecology, and economy.

    www.naomihennig.com
  • Pieterjan Grandry

    Pieterjan Grandry is a Belgian graphic designer living and working in Berlin. His office, Modem Studio, works for a wide range of international clients and operates in the fields of print and web design. Next to his practice as graphic designer, Pieterjan founded Crap is Good, a blog dedicated to documenting and describing contemporary visual culture by focusing on non-client-based experimental work. The blog extends into publishing, issuing under the name Crap is Good Press. He also founded the t-shirt label ‘yoshimi’, is co-founder of architecture collective ‘Collective Disaster’ and created the D’EST website.

    www.modem.ws
  • Selene States

    Selene States is an artist, translator and editor for D’EST. She studied fine art, art history, theater and film studies at UC Berkeley, University of Heidelberg, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, UCLA and State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe. Her PhD in art and design at the Bauhaus University draws on practice-based approaches to dress studies and proposes the design and exhibition of an ‘authentic’ collection of modernist women’s pants from the interwar period. Her study of retro-nostalgic artifacts and narratives extends to States’ feminist performance, video, and installation practice, exhibited at the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, l’Aubette Strasbourg, Milton Keynes Gallery among others.

    selenestates.com
  • Suza Husse

    Suza Husse is interested in queer, feminist, and decolonial approaches to bodies, socialities, ecologies, and histories. Since 2012, she has been working as the artistic director of the interdisciplinary art space District Berlin with an emphasis on artistic research, collaborative practices, public space, critical education, and political imagination. In 2016 she co-founded the experimental publishing collective The Many Headed Hydra with artist Emma Haugh. She is currently a guest professor at the University of Arts Berlin where she initiated Sister Stones and Blocks of Anger. Queer Petrographies – a collective artistic inquiry into diasporic rocks in Berlin.

  • Ulrike Gerhardt

    Ulrike Gerhardt is the artistic (co-)director of D’EST since its founding in 2016, nowadays leading the platform together with Suza Husse. As a cultural studies scholar and curator, she has been researching cultural memory concerning the reverberations of the post-socialist transformation. For her PhD, she analyzed the ways in which video works by female artists and collectives of the “generation transformation” deal with the experiences of Perestroika, migration, globalization, ecosystems of damage and indexical landscapes after 1989 / 1991. Currently she works as a postdoctoral researcher for the SNSF-project Artistic Strategies to Re-View History since the 1990s (short title: Images of History in Contemporary Art), an art historical research project exploring counter-historical imaginaries since the end of the Cold War.

    leuphana.academia.edu/UlrikeGerhardt
  • Vlad Anghel

    Vlad Anghel was the assistant curator and co-producer of D’EST Prologue: O’ Mystical East and West (2016) and works as a multidisciplinary artist in Berlin and Bucharest. His practice is located at the intersection between art, design and technology. He studied Cybernetics, Statistics and Economic Informatics at the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest. In his work, he often appropriates obsolete 3-D aesthetics as well as surrealist references and creates virtual environments that can be described as magical realism.

    vladanghel.com
  • Xandra Popescu

    Xandra Popescu is the curator and producer of the screening chapter and initial website D’EST Prolog: O’ Mystical East and West (2016). She works as a writer, filmmaker, and curator in Berlin and Bucharest. From 2012 to 2016, together with Larisa Crunțeanu she led Atelier 35, one of the most active project spaces in Bucharest. She has a background in political science and philosophy and studied dramatic writing at the National Film and Theater University in Bucharest. Popescu has written for cinema and works as a filmmaker at the intersection of the narrative and the visual. Currently she is in the process of setting up Eroika, a production framework for female artists and directors from the former East.

    www.xandrapopescu.com