The forgotten stories of socialist solidarity between the GDR and Africa 

The history of poli­ti­cal friend­ship and coope­ra­tion between the GDR and Afri­can count­ries such as Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Mozam­bi­que, Nami­bia, among others, deser­ves atten­tion and a nuan­ced “depic­tion”. Situa­ted mainly in the field of Visual Cultures and joining forces with an array of colla­bo­ra­tors, this project under­ta­kes rese­arch which will culmi­nate in a week-long programme of online public semi­nars and in a carefully plan­ned exhi­bi­tion encom­pas­sing histo­ri­cal and artis­tic propo­sals in diffe­rent media such as film projec­tions, arti­facts, posters, maps and perfor­man­ces. The project’s goal is to shed light on inter­na­tio­na­lism and the rela­ti­onships between the GDR state and its social actors with Afri­can count­ries and anti-colo­nial move­ments, thus giving visi­bi­lity and some tangi­bi­lity to weak memo­ries and past reali­ties that have been either margi­na­li­zed or silen­ced. Howe­ver, since many kinds of archi­ves have been destroyed or disper­sed, since many stories, point of views and subjec­ti­vi­ties were suppres­sed and since the rese­ar­chers invol­ved in this project reco­gnize that framing any past event unavo­id­a­bly excludes some accounts and details, the exhi­bi­tion will be consciously tenta­tive, that is: admit­tedly and reali­sti­cally unfinished.


As a colla­bo­ra­tor of this project, the IF DDR is contri­bu­ting a scho­larly reapp­rai­sal of the GDR’s rela­ti­ons with certain inde­pen­dence move­ments and inde­pen­dent states of Africa, focu­sing on the oral histo­ries of the actors invol­ved. In addi­tion to inter­views with contem­po­rary witnesses, diaries, artic­les, and other histo­ri­cal sources will be used to inves­ti­gate the ques­tion: How did this coope­ra­tion take place and what role did it play in the indi­vi­dual history of those invol­ved? By analy­sing scien­ti­fic sources, we also aim to measure the poli­ti­cal level of soli­da­rity work. What signi­fi­cance did the soli­da­rity achie­ve­ments and projects have for the further deve­lo­p­ment of the “young nation states” libe­ra­ted from colo­nia­lism? To what extent were they a reflec­tion of the poli­ti­cal strug­gles of system compe­ti­tion? A spatial form of presen­ta­tion that seeks to connect this histo­ri­cal-poli­ti­cal frame­work with the stories of the micro-level is being deve­lo­ped with the curators.


The cura­tors:


  • LUCAS REHNMAN studied Arts in the Public Sphe­res at édhéa (Switz­er­land). Since 2020, he rese­ar­ches post-colo­nial moder­nist archi­tec­ture in Guinea-Bissau and its possi­ble impacts to History, the Social Scien­ces, deco­lo­nial theory and cura­to­rial studies. He is a member of EPICAC Tropi­cal Banda and also enjoys taking part in colla­bo­ra­tive projects (such as Die Diago­na­len, Kata­kombe, among others).
  • VINCENZO FIORE MARRESE was born in Florence, Italy. His inte­rest in the move­ments of the body was sparked by various expe­ri­en­ces: theatre, dance and calli­gra­phic art. He began his rese­arch on the artis­tic aspect of anatomy and biology. Then he deve­lo­ped his rese­arch towards the poli­ti­cal and social func­tion of the body. He has presen­ted his works in Europe and Asia.