Hub: Fashion and Scenes

3rd Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin 14 Feb - 18 April 2004




Detail installation view, photo: Werner Maschmann, Berlin



Photos: Wolfgang Träger (Kunstforum International, Bd 169, March, April 2004), Werner Maschmann / bb3







Hub: Fashion and Scenes

Text - Regina (Maria) Möller


A Fool Sees Nothing In Fashion But Fashion (Honoré de Balzac)


Fashion brings together the sociological, the psychological and the aesthetic. It’s a complex realm that goes beyond apparel, shifting trends or the picking-over of past styles. It exists in dialogue with architecture, interior design, the urban setting, tradition, culture and art forms such as sculpture, portraiture, performance art and film. It makes statements – consciously and unconsciously – that give rise to questions of cultural, gender-specific and everyday interest. It occupies a place between theory and practice. Fashion is simultaneously text and textile, concept and cut, function and form. It can simply be worn or it can be perceived as an extreme statement. It plays a central role in the creation of identity and the process of self-dramatization.



Seam and Transition


The subtitle of the FASHION and SCENES hub is Seam / Transition. The idea behind the seam is to identify tears in the fabric of society and history, in order to then stitch them back together again. The seam remains visible. This hub tracks seams and highlights various scenarios involving fashion. The focus and starting point of Seam is East and West Berlin in the era shortly before and after the fall of the Berlin wall – the ‘transition’. The Transition section debunks the idea of fashion as purely a matter of style, viewing it as the crystallization of multiple contexts and historically changing milieus.


The central themes of the show are everyday clothing and work-wear in former East Germany, and the incorporation of work clothing in Western fashions. Particular attention is paid to socialist norms in the East and the cult of the label in the West. The East Germans, following the guidelines of the German Fashion Institute, emphasized comfort and practicality. The German Fashion Institute drew up guidelines and made fashion recommendations. ‘The main aim was to put together fashion tips corresponding to the desires and needs of working people. However, fashion was not only a type of provision – it was also a form of “aesthetic education”. On the one hand the Fashion Institute’s job was to draw up fashion guidelines for industry and commerce, and on the other, to guide the taste and needs  of the people in the development of a “socialist style”.1  As part of this the institutes task was also to analyze trends. ‘It had to come up with a theory of fashion development. With an eye on international trends in fashion, it conceived and developed “trends” over a two-year timescale for color design and 18 months for manufacture.’2  As a result, in East Germany – and in contrast to the West – fashion was not perceived as a dynamically changing phenomenon dependent on the seasons of the year. The conception phases and production timescales for new collections were so long that trends along the lines of the Western model could not develop in the socialist clothing industry. Socialist fashion was supposed to be functional, emotional and timeless, provide durability and clarity and, above all, be practical and comfortable. Men and women wore their ‘work clothes’ in their leisure time as well, around the home – not only at work. And yet there was a gap between the fashions on offer and the demand for fashionable clothes. Faced with this situation, women and groups of young people got together and created their own collections made of cast-offs – setting very personal trends in the process.


Regina (Maria) Möller, "Hub : Fashion and Scenes", in: komplex berlin, exhibition catalogue, 3rd Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, Berlin 2004, pp 234-236



1 Mareike Hube, Mode und Plan. Zur Bekleidungskultur der DDR der 60er Jahre, MA thesis, University of Bremen, 2002

2 Dorit Lücke “Archiavalische Schätze des Modeinstituts der DDR”, in: Waidenschlager (ed.) Berliner Chic., Berlin 2001






- Ute Meta Bauer (ed.),komplex berlin 3rd berlin biennial for contemporary art, Berlin, 2004, 306 pages

- 3rd berlin biennial for contemporary art, exhibtiion catalogue, Berlin 2004, 208 pages





3rd berlin biennial for contemporary art

Artistic director: Ute Meta Bauer


Hub Fashion and Scenes:

Artist / Cultural Producer: Regina (Maria) Möller

Assistants: Martin Germann, Matthias Sohr