From the 1900s, Berlin was the largest industrial location in Germany. Yet behind the visible work in the factories lay the invisible work at home. Cooking, caring, cleaning, educating, sex - or as Silvia Federici and Nicole Cox wrote in 1975: “Housework, in fact, is much more than house cleaning. It is servicing the wage earner physically, emotionally, sexually, getting him ready to work day after day for the wage.” Accounting the Household! takes a look at homes, bedrooms and kitchens in the industrial northwest of Berlin. The films show care work and reproductive work between economic coercion and refusal, domestic community and abandonment, children and childlessness, marriage, divorce and social retreat, entangled in dependencies, resistance and social expectations. A special focus is on the years of change from the early sixties to the eighties. After industrial work had dominated everyday life in the north of West Berlin for almost a century, the region's largest employers closed their plants within just twenty years following the construction of the Berlin Wall. What happens to the “servicing of the wage earner” in a time of great uncertainty, between mass layoffs and the construction of the Wall, against the backdrop of the emerging Second Wave Feminism?
Funded by Aktionsfonds QM Soldinerstr
Kaspar Aebi is a curator, author, film and media scholar trained in social studies and cultural anthropology. His main interests are pop culture, the politics of architecture, the intersection of neoliberalism and conservative/right wing ideologies, feminist theory, and documentary filmmaking. For the film blog Jugend ohne Film Kaspar edited a special issue on architecture and neoliberalism. In his master thesis he focuses on spatial intermediation and sheltering through cinema architecture. Kaspar coordinates the film copies and edits the program texts at Sinema Transtopia.
“Besides, this is bullshit anyway!” After twenty years of marriage, Irene Rakowitz divorces her husband who lives a few floors down. She fights for self-determination and hurls at her daughter: “We raise kids, we run a huge household, we serve the man. For nothing! And when we’re divorced, then it’s zilch, nothing! When I work as a housemaid, I’m doing the same work. Here, I am a housemaid for nothing!” Helga Reidemeister, who worked as a social worker on site at Märkisches Viertel, is involved with the difficult search for independence. Mostly standing in solidarity to Irene, she is, however, sometimes also antagonistic to her. The question that remains outstanding: “Okay, I got divorced, I have my freedom. So what can I do with it now?”
After her husband first killed his boss and then himself in reaction to an announced mass layoff, “Mother Küster” is appropriated by all and everybody for media attention. She is photographed at the stove by a tabloid reporter, turned into a case study at the party congress of the German Communist Party DKP, and used as an identification figure by an anarchist group at a hostage-taking at the tabloid’s office. Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s loose adaptation of the proletarian silent movie Mother Krause’s Journey to Happiness shifts the plot from the red Wedding of the 1920s to bourgeois Frankfurt in the 1970s, and thus to the culture wars between the BILD, DKP and RAF. A reflection on the attention economy of gender roles between the political fronts of the 1970s.
With a surprise film afterwards!
Bettina Köhler is a film scholar and public historian. Her research interests include visual history, film history and the staging of history in film.
Grüntaler Straße 59a, small staircase: Klara Heydebreck lived here for 59 years until she committed suicide in March 1969. Starting from the police report, a search for a life that remains fragmentary begins. Documents from the estate and conversations with relatives and neighbours are used to reconstruct the historical, economic and social conditions of a woman who did not want to live up to conventional expectations, who never married and was therefore ridiculed as a “damsel-in-waiting”. When, at the end, a letter that has never been sent is read, the main thing that remains is sadness: “Loneliness can be very beautiful when you have had enough of your dear fellow world once again. But a lack of essential necessities is the devil's chicanery”.
Nine-year-old Michael eats breakfast, goes to school, hangs around and runs errands for the neighbour. Together with his single mother, who works as a prostitute, he lives in a small apartment in Wedding. The different rhythms of their everyday life pass each other by and are only held together by the ticking of the clock on the wall. In sober shots, director Sohrab Shahid Saless, who emigrated Iran in 1974, shows the boy's routine, which repeats itself daily, until one day he notices his mother receiving a client.
Vivien Kristin Buchhorn is a film scholar and art historian. Her research interest is in transnational cinematographies and works of art and their archiving. In addition to her academic work, she works as a curator, accompanies film projects and regularly publishes film and exhibition reviews. Sohrab Shahid Saless' films have interested her since the conception of retrospectives in Berlin and Tehran.