Ulrike Gerhardt

Ulrike Gerhardt is the artistic director of D’EST. As a cultural studies scholar and curator, she is currently researching cultural memory concerning post-socialist transformation within the framework of her PhD project Language, Body, Indices. Cultural Memory on the Transformation in Post-Socialist Video Art. For this, she is analyzing the ways in which video works by female artists and collectives deal with language, corporeality, and cultural indices. In 2017 she co-organized the public seminar Female Identities in the Post-Utopian. Perspectives on Post-Socialism from Art and Theory (with Prof. Lene Markusen) as well as the international conference (Hi)Stories in Art after the End of the Cold War (with Prof. Dr. Melanie Franke).

Screening #4

The Body as Indexical Reader

Among the manifold effects of the post-1989 transformations, one can discern certain semantic shifts and taboos with regard to the socialist past. This chapter focuses on the artistic use of the body as a reader of leftover indices of this past. Material examples for these indices include architecture, historical audio recordings, manuscripts, notes, and diaries. The selected video works represent performative “readings” of external indexical topographies, such as that of the soviet communal flat (kommunalka), a rundown future spa facility or a soviet modernist building. Here, the body acts as a corporeal reading tool, which carries out the mnemonic process of indexically reading and analyzing (“reading traces”) in an imaginative way. Therefore, it plays a central role in video art as the ars memoriae of the present.

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