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The Cleaner, the Cat, and the Moon


The Museum of Utopia and Everyday Life, Eisenhüttenstadt

An exhibition with the artists' collective U5 curated by Helene Romakin and Lea Schleiffenbaum

Opening: Saturday, November 18, 2023, from 2 pm

At the invitation of Helene Romakin and Lea Schleiffenbaum, U5 has taken a look at the Museum Utopia and Everyday Life's collection of 170,000 objects. In the exhibition The Cleaner, the Cat, and the Moon, the artists intermix objects from the museum's holdings with miniatures, sculptures, ceramics, and everyday objects from their studio. A tarot card set related to these objects, the Tarot of Small Things thereby asks the important questions of everyday life.

With the exhibition, U5 deliberately turn away from grand historical narratives and instead focuses their attention on everyday anecdotes, personal memories, and youthful longings. Which stories are told and which are forgotten? How do our personal memories and imaginations shape the perception of objects? By orienting themselves on the materiality, colors, and functions of objects, U5 dissolve habitual attributions. This opens the supposedly closed space of the past, enabling new narratives and contexts to emerge.

The Museum Utopia and Everyday Life is not only concerned with the scientific contextualization of everyday culture and art from the GDR, but also with critically questioning current discourses of memory through artistic means. In the past years, the museum has regularly invited artists to engage with it's collection.

The Cleaner, the Cat, and the Moon is a continuation of the exhibition I love Clark, which was shown earlier this year at Brandenburgischer Kunstverein Potsdam.

The exhibition is supported by the Swiss cultural foundation Pro Helvetia and GeWi - Gebäudewirtschaft Eisenhüttenstadt GmbH.

Museum Utopie und Alltag Erich-Weinert-Allee 3 15890 Eisenhüttenstadt

U5: I love Clark


Brandenburgischer Kunstverein Potsdam
January 27  – April 2, 2023
Opening: Januar 26, 2023 from 6pm
Finissage: April 2, 2023 conversation with Philip Ursprung
Curated by Helene Romakin and Lea Schleiffenbaum

1989 was the year in which two cultures collided: Everyday life in the East and everyday life in the West, in the different materials and forms that shaped their respective lives. Looking back overlaps become apparent, especially in everyday objects whose design affinity is unmistakable: razors, kitchen mixers, and typewriters. While today the products of the Western world dominate the Eastern ones in public perception, the East was left with the memory of a world of objects. After the fall of the Wall, the Documentation Center of Everyday Culture of the GDR in Eisenhüttenstadt, now the Museum Utopia and Daily Life, began to collect objects from the GDR with the participation of citizens. Today, the collection contains more than 170,000 objects.

At the invitation of curators Helene Romakin and Lea Schleiffenbaum, the artists' collective U5 looked at the extensive collection. The aim was not to remeasure contemporary history but to provide new access to past realities through the morphology of objects and products. Morphology is interested in an object's form instead of its functional properties. How does the object speak to those who view or use it? What meanings does it carry?

With I love Clark, U5 embarks on a journey through associations and memories, where the overlay of realities and presences leaves room for new interpretations and interconnections. A slide box entitled "Images of Antarctica," in which the former Deutsche Zentralinstitut für Lehrmittel Berlin (German Central Institute for Teaching Materials) documented the Georg-Forster Antarctic Research Station established in 1976, forms a central starting point for U5. The station, located 15,000 km from home, continued to exist after the fall of the Berlin Wall and thus survived the state from which it was founded for several years.

In the exhibition, U5 mixes collection objects from the holdings of the Museum of Utopia and Daily Life with their miniatures, sculptures, ceramics, and non-German everyday objects. In this way, they detach the GDR objects from their historical classification. A new video work takes up the diverse narrative levels of the objects on display and describes their backgrounds. Last but not least, U5 thus poses questions about how old dialogues can be taken up differently, which stories are told and which are forgotten, and what remains of the yearnings of youth other than a scent, dripping candles, eggnog, and ozone records.



Artistic research, SNF- project: Konflikt und Kooperation. Episteme und Methoden zwischen Kunstgeschichte, Kunst und Ethnologie am Beispiel performativer Bildpraktiken der Vodun, University of Zurich, Art History Department, Prof. Dr. Bärbel Küster Link to Website


U5 was part of the research team „17 Volcanoes“, a research project on tourism and urbanization by Philip Ursprung & Alex Lehnerer for Singapore ETH-Centre/Future Cities Laboratory from 2015 - 2018. We are workind on a publication, that will be published end 2023.