memory. culture. art.
Neeltje Reijerman

Neeltje Reijerman, born in 1975 to a Dutch father and a German mother who fled the GDR at the age of 25, grew up in Munich. She holds a Diploma in Photography from the Royal Academy of Art, Den Haag / Netherlands and a MA in Cultural Studies, Cultural Anthropology and Art History from the University of Leipzig, Germany.
Her photographic work explores different strategies of remembrance and the building of identities. In 2007 she participated in the interdisciplinary project “n/osztalgia – revisiting the socialist past”, which brought together scientists and artists from Germany and East-European Countries. She also contributes to “plotki – rumours from around the bloc”, a magazine dedicated to the culture of Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe.
She is a freelance photographer and currently lives in Berlin and Amsterdam.

Neeltje Reijerman: About Four Generations of East-German Identity
When I moved to a city in the Eastern part of Germany, I realized that I was about the same age my mother was when she fled the GDR. But in the meantime the political situation had completely changed. During its existence the GDR was always a mystery to me, knowing that it was related directly to my family’s history but also a story that was thought of as left far behind.
The work shows a four-piece installation (photography, collage, audio and video), set in a fully furnished room. It deals with different strategies of remembrance in order to construct an East-German identity, stretching from the grandmother generation, the mother generation, my own generation to the younger generation.
Each depicted group has its specific ways of dealing with the past - depending on the actual political situation, the personal circumstances and the relation towards the practise of a “collective memory”. The work shows the transformation and the contradictions of remembrance and memory through the generations:
The silence of the grandmother about her life and memories initiated a photo album in which real and fictive situations form a whole story that could replace the unspoken.
The escape of a young woman over the Baltic Sea under threatening circumstances is retold through the eyes of her later child. The peep-in-box tries to solve the mystery of the hidden memories of the mother.
The mural of a girl eagerly awaiting the annual May 1st celebrations is the role model for children displayed in schools and kindergartens in the former GDR. Accompanied by stories of the events around the political change it reveals the deep discrepancy between sweet childhood memories and the actual, sometimes cruel, reality of the GDR regime which children were not fully aware of.
The video follows a sport event of a boy born after “the fall of the wall”. Together with text fragments of a conversation it forms a mix of present time experiences and bits and pieces about the former GDR. These are second hand information which are picked up through media or adult conversations.