This project takes the hand as a motif or figure in the writing of a political, sexual, and aesthetic history of the GDR, specifically of East Berlin. It starts with a process of mapping: of art works — sculptures and paintings, public and private, state-sanctioned or otherwise. It then adds another layer: a mapping of gay, lesbian, and trans life in the city, both in public and private – whether bars and clubs, health and support groups, cruising sites and house parties, remaining and disappeared. It asks what connections can be found or made between prolaterian and queer liberation; if the hand or fist of proletarian struggle (state sanctioned or state subversive) might have parallels with the hand and fist of a struggle for a sexual life and politics within and beyond the state’s sanction. Through text and film, it will result in the construction of physical and digital archives, walking tours and screenings, and written materials.

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Image credit: Archive footage from Talking Hands, dir. Emanuel Almborg Sweden, 2016. 48 min. From IPC RAO archive, Moscow. Filmmaker and exact date of the footage unknown.

Posted on 21 March 2023