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Goethe-Institut goes punk

Alex Hacke (alias Alexander von Borsig) plays with Kiddy Citny (from the Band Sprung aus den Wolken) for a small audience, Risiko, West Berlin, 1981 Anno Dittmer

Go underground and back in time to 1980s Germany at the Goethe-Institut in Washington, DC, at the exhibition Geniale Dilletanten (Brilliant Dilletantes, until 28 October), which looks at experimental German sub-culture of the decade. It focuses on seven noise and punk bands from cities in East and West Germany, including Ornament & Verbrechen from East Berlin and Einstürzende Neubauten from West Berlin. “There was a lot going on, but in a structure that’s hard for us to understand,” says Norma Broadwater, a cultural programmes curator at the institute, such as the unusual venues where East German bands played to avoid the authorities. The show includes concert films, audio, album covers, aluminium prints of music video stills and photographs, many never seen before and found thanks to the connections of the show’s curator Mathilde Weh, who was in a band in the 80s. Other areas of culture such as design are also explored through photographs, including a shot of lamp made from a plastic dinosaur who dangles a light bulb from its teeth. The German band Die Nerven, who formed in 2010 and are heavily influenced by the bands in the exhibition, are due to give a concert at the underground Dupont Underground venue on 25 October as part of the show’s programming. “It’s interesting to see how things come around,” Broadwater says. A larger version of the exhibition is due to go on show at the Goethe-Institut San Francisco early next year.