Meisterschülerausstellung / Degree show at Hochschule der Künste Berlin, 1998
The 1917 October Revolution in Petrograd (modern-day St. Petersburg) which resulted in the founding of the first socialist state, the Soviet Union, was a key event in socialist historiography. The anniversary and celebration of the October Uprising were crucial elements of socialist ideology, not only in Russia, but in all the socialist countries that were established after World War II and subsequently turned into satellite states of the Soviet Union. Through the formation and maintenance of traditions, ritualized commemorations, and commemorative rallies the socialist parties aimed to establish a legitimacy of their political power, helping, in the end, to shape the personal and political attitudes of the people. Like the Great Patriotic War, the October Revolution was a frequent subject in arts and literature.
"Oktober/November" comprises several snapshots taken in 1997 during and immediately after a manifestation commemorating the anniversary of the October Revolution in St. Petersburg. How the Russian people "performed" this manifestation reminded me a lot of GDR times, indeed it reminded me of the traditional workers' demonstrations every May 1st. The first print depicts passing groups of demonstrators who practice outdated ritualized forms of commemoration from the bygone Soviet era. The second print shows the crowd dissipating and leaving. In a public room on the left there are two people chatting. They could be a grandmother and grandchild talking about the past.
The format of the images resembles the banners carried by the Russian demonstrators themselves.