Das Fundbuero – – Civics Lessons

Das Fundbuero – – Civics Lessons was an installation at the Minneapolis Institute of Art drawing from an archive of interviews and objects collected through 6 years of participatory projects in former East Germany to reflect on group processes and the tension between the individual and the collective.

The first room includes: two vitrines – one giving a short overview of post-war German history and including maps and tourist brochures from East and West, the second providing an overview of Das Fundbuero‘s activities in its Leipzig storefront; Cross Reference, a new work consisting of sets of US and GDR encyclopedias from 1968 with a series of highlighted entries for comparison; and the neon sign collectively we support your autonomy.

The second room continues the US/GDR comparison with three vitrines of objects under the slogan ‘overtake with that catching up’. A fourth vitrine contains music books from both the US and GDR with personal essays reflecting on particular songs and their political meanings.

A wall-based installation of the book Conduit, Caretaker, Anchor, Catalyst presents diagrams of relationships between artwork, artist, participant and audience in Das Fundbuero. Westkontakte catalogs relationships between the GDR and the US, including individuals such as Angela Davis, Pete Seeger, Hans Eisler and Bertolt Brecht as well as art exhibitions and cultural and political movements. Objects and interviews from Das Fundbuero were available at three archive stations. A slideshow of images from the GDR showing groupings of people was interspersed with images building the design for a neon sign about definitions of community. The neon sign together we create conflict rounded out the installation.

Monica Sheets: Das Fundbuero—Civics Lessons from Minneapolis Institute of Art on Vimeo.