Following an invitation by curators Helene Romakin and Lea Schleiffenbaum, the artists’ collective U5 took a look at the Museum Utopie und Alltag’s collection of 170,000 objects. What emerged is the exhibition Der Reiniger, die Katze und der Mond (The Cleaner, the Cat and the Moon). In the exhibition Der Reiniger, die Katze und der Mond (The Cleaner, the Cat and the Moon), the artists intermingled objects from the museum’s collection with miniatures, sculptures, ceramics and everyday objects from their own studio.
U5 deliberately refrains from extensive historical analysis and instead focuses on everyday anecdotes, personal memories and youthful longings.
Which stories are told, which are forgotten? How do our personal memories and ideas shape the perception of objects?
Taking cues from the items’ materialities, colors and functions, U5 deliberately disrupt familiar attributions. An open space emerges from the supposedly bygone and closed past, which – also with the help of the audience – repeatedly gives rise to new narratives and contexts. In the entrance area, U5 allows collection objects and artworks to merge into one another following patterns of shapes and colors in an expansive installation. The arrangement is accompanied by an 89-piece tarot card set, the Tarot der kleinen Dinge. Instead of negotiating grand and abstract questions of life, the cards focus on the mundane and applicable.
Among the museum objects that have captured the artists’ attention is a box of photo slides from a GDR Antarctic expedition. The slides recount the history of the Georg-Foster Station, whose last expedition team commenced their service in October 1989, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. These images inspired U5 to create several artworks: the video piece 1985, the series 6 Flags: Pictures from Antarctica, as well as six original Recreation Areas.
An open space emerges from the supposedly bygone and closed past, which – also with the help of the audience – repeatedly gives rise to new narratives and contexts. The artists invite the public on a witty, critical-feminist journey that evokes the magic of everyday life in an interplay between association and memory.
The Museum Utopie und Alltag’s concerns extend beyond contextualizing and coming to terms with the past academically; it also seeks to critically challenge contemporary discourse on remembrance through artistic methods. For several years now, the museum has regularly invited artists to creatively engage with its collection and to enrich the ongoing exchange of ideas.
Der Reiniger, die Katze und der Mond is a follow-up to the exhibition I love Clark, presented at the beginning of the year at the Brandenburgischer Kunstverein Potsdam.
Founded in 2007, U5 is an artists’ collective whose diverse artistic work involves selecting and exploring various media and materials based on interest and urgency. U5 explores traits of collective action and perception in artistic production, exhibitions as well as research initiatives.
Lea Schleiffenbaum is an art historian and independent curator. Her projects and exhibitions in public space are realized for the Neue Auftraggeber, among others. Helene Romakin is a cultural researcher, independent curator and author. In 2023 she successfully completed her doctoral thesis on the anthropocene and storytelling at the ETH Zurich.
The exhibition was made possible with the support of the Swiss cultural foundation Pro Helvetia and GeWi – Gebäudewirtschaft Eisenhüttenstadt GmbH.
Museum Utopie und Alltag