Erfrischungsraum 2


From July 1–17, 2022, OSTEN Festival in Bitterfeld-Wolfen traced „East“ as a concept of attribution and self-determination, while making it visible through numerous projects and negotiations in and around the Kulturpalast in Bitterfeld, that served as the festival’s protagonist. Beyond the political and historical dimension, the festival and with it the participants of the master's programme Cultures of the Curatorial explored what „East“ could mean today. The former restaurant by the name „Erfrischungsraum“ (refreshment room) located in the basement of the Kulturpalast was a popular meeting place for workers from Bitterfeld-Wolfen and passers-by, especially in GDR times. Even after the fall of the Wall, the bar remained open until it had to close down for good a few years ago. Due to toxic chemicals collecting in the groundwater under the building, the cellar will now have to be sealed with concrete in the foreseeable future. 

For the first weekend of OSTEN Festival in July 2022, the group developed a diverse programme in a bar architecture – composed of original parts of „Erfrischungsraum“ – that served as a place of gathering. The projects developed by various working groups dealt with the Kulturpalast and Bitterfeld in order to open up questions about attributions of the “East” as well as processes of conservation and representation for the future. For the „Erfrischungsraum 2“, three groups were created with the working titles „SAMMELN“ (collecting), „FERMENTIEREN“ (fermenting), „LETZTE RUNDE“ (last round).


Curators: Anna Karpenko, Dereck Marouço, Makoto Okajima, Sophia Charlotte Reiser,  Elisa Maria Schmitt, Laura Stieg, Viviane Tabach

Even before the start of OSTEN Festival, the curators group „SAMMELN“ met various people from Bitterfeld-Wolfen to listen to and record their memories and stories about the town and the GDR. During the festival, the furniture in „Erfrischungsraum 2“ will be transformed into a listening station for these various stories. It is small stories hidden in large narratives and possibly lost. In contrast to the officially archived past of the former GDR city, they are personal memories. The project „SAMMELN“ is an ongoing process. We invite everyone to participate in our project of deep listening, to continue thinking about the stories of Bitterfeld and ask themselves: What does it mean to have a story? Is it my story, your story or a shared story of us? And where are places of remembrance?


Curators: Sandy Becker, Julianne Csapo, Tuan Do Duc, Elli Leeb, Luise Richter, Leo Scheidt

Collecting materials and, especially preserving fruit and vegetables with the prospect of possible use in the future, was also part of East German reality. Ordinary preserving jars can evoke memories of one's own family history. The curatorial group „FERMENTIEREN“ used this term as a metaphor to question practices of collecting and dealing with history, as well as to initiate a reflection on aspects of self-perception and attribution to others. In what ways could the „East“ be fermented?

In this context, the curatorial group invited the collective ZEFAK (Aria Farajnezhad, Elard Lukaczik, Zainab Haidary), as well as the artist Trakal, to deal with these very questions of preservation and transformation. As part of a gathering event, ZEFAK responded to the collected stories from Bitterfeld and the Kulturpalast and added their own personal memories. Questions about places of community, the connection between work and landscape or historical upheavals, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, were central. An exchange developed between the artists, curators and visitors. The artist Trakal dealt with the East German experience of work in the form of writing workshops together with a group of interested people from the Bitterfeld-Wolfen region. In order to find contemporary narratives of work experiences, Trakal produced and discussed texts of work biographies, but also memories and dreams of work. It is an attempt to find a language for the post-socialist interweaving with work after the workers' state. By offering a fermentation workshop, the artist and curator Julianne Csapo also invited visitors to exchange ideas about preserves and enter into a conversation about „East“.

Letzte Runde

Curators: Lisa Dreykluft, Robert Köpke, Insa Langhorst, Martin Naundorf, Iana Pitenko, Martha Schwindling

The soon-to-be-lost bar „Erfrischungsraum“ in the basement of the Kulturpalast was temporarily revived as part of OSTEN Festival: parts of the former inventory could be found again in the furniture of „Erfrischungsraum 2“ in the outdoor area of the Kulturpalast. The bar served as a place to meet and linger during the festival. Every evening (1–3 July) during the „LETZTE RUNDE“, „Erfrischungsraum 2“ started its operation, while turning into a meeting point to get into conversation. Questions on beer coasters could be an entry point to share personal memories and exchange ideas. „LETZTE RUNDE“ served to let go of a lost place and at the same time transformed its memory into new social situations.

A project of the Cultures of the Curatorial programme under the direction of Beatrice von Bismarck, Benjamin Meyer-Krahmer and Julia Kurz, in cooperation with OSTEN Festival Bitterfeld-Wolfen in summer 2022 and the GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig December 2022 - April 2023.