Sozialismus (capitalism is more furtive)


From The Guardian:

Halfway through Phil Collins’s new film, a statue of Karl Marx is winched out of a Berlin square. It recalls Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, in which a statue of Jesus is airlifted over the roofs of Rome before the shenanigans begin. Both sequences invite similar questions. What happens when the key symbol of a culture is run out of town? Does life become sweet? Does it leave an icon-shaped hole?

The Runcorn-born, Berlin-residing, 2006 Turner prize-shortlisted artist wanted to address these questions in his film, called Marxism Today. But most of all, he wanted to find out what happens to a discredited creed’s followers, as they move into an alien new world. “I was in Berlin on the 20th anniversary of the Wall coming down. All the focus was on reunification and the subcultures of dissent that existed in East Germany  – be it the Protestant church or punks. The one voice that wasn’t heard was that of teachers of Marxism-Leninism in East Germany. Where did they go? There must have been a lot of them: it was a compulsory subject.”

So he put ads in papers and magazines inviting old Marxist teachers to get in touch. “Some were suspicious,” says Collins, “but we got 40 replies and 10 people were filmed. In the end, I only put three in because they told their stories in an effective way – and helped establish a vivid sympathy.”

In the heart-rending opening interview, unemployed Petra Mgoza-Zeckay remembers 1989. For her, it wasn’t a year when the walls of tyranny came down, but a time when her life fell apart. She had been a teacher in Marxism-Leninism for medical students, married to an African socialist. “My parents didn’t like me marrying a black man,” she says. The couple wanted to go to South Africa, where they planned to join the ANC and fight apartheid. But her husband became depressed and took his life in May 1989. Soon after, Mgoza-Zeckay lost what she calls “her fatherland” and then her job. She couldn’t share in the euphoria of the times, and remembers West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl going walkabout in Karl Marx Platz. “Kohl handed out bananas and Coca-Cola. I don’t eat bananas any more – and of course I don’t drink Coca-Cola.”

“Fastest! Tallest! Marxist! The visual art of Phil Collins”, Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian