With its collection of over 23,000 objects, the Beeskow Art Archive provides an important record of the cultural history of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The paintings, print graphics, photographs, sculptures, medals, works of applied art, and other objects largely consist of purchases financed by the Kulturfonds der DDR  [Cultural fund of the GDR] and exhibited in public buildings. As a publicly accessible depot, the archive, which is located in the small town of Beeskow in Brandenburg, provides insights into the GDR’s system of art and culture and its political and social norms. Together with the Documentation Centre of Everyday Culture of the GDR in Eisenhüttenstadt, it forms the Museum of Utopia and Everyday Life which still exists today.

For Echos der Bruderländer, three paintings and a textile work have been selected from the collection. Created by artists from the GDR, the painted works thematize life together with citizens from the socialist brother countries. Berlin artist Christoph Wetzel, for example, achieves a shift in perspective in his work Das Jüngste Gericht in which eight children from Congo, Chile, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Palestine, Nicaragua, and Vietnam are depicted leaning, with a determined gaze, on a judge’s lectern. The viewer, meanwhile, is placed in the position of the accused. Here, in a subliminal fashion, the racialized violence and labour exploitation that fellow citizens from the brother countries were forced to endure are addressed. The textile work is a cooperation between students of the Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin and the Vera Mukhina Higher School of Art and Design in Leningrad, today’s St. Petersburg. The tapestry, commissioned by the Gesellschaft für Deutsch-Sowjetische Freundschaft (Society for German-Soviet Friendship, DSF), symbolizes this very friendship.

Works in the exhibition: Christoph Wetzel, Das Jüngste Gericht [The last judgement] (1987), oil on fibreboard, 165 × 250 cm; Heinz-Karl Kummer, Solidarität [Solidarity] (c.1978), oil on wood, 100 × 230 cm. Courtesy of the estate of Heinz-Karl Kummer; Horst Weber, Menschliches Verhalten [Human behaviour] (1978–79), oil on canvas, collage, 120 × 160 cm; Symbole der deutsch-sowjetischen Freundschaft [Symbol of German-Soviet friendship] (1977), tapestry, 214 × 136 cm, work by students from the Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin and the Vera Mukhina Higher School of Art and Design in Leningrad (commissioned by the Gesellschaft für Deutsch-Sowjetische Freundschaft). All courtesy of Museum Utopie und Alltag (Kunstarchiv Beeskow)