Ina Wudtke’s Pirate Jenny delves into the theme of activism, both historic and contemporary. The show revolves around the Marxist writing of Bertold Brecht and Margarete Steffens, and further shows videos that address gentrification in Berlin and the role of technology in bringing about social change.
The installation November examines two Marxist songs written by Bertold Brecht and Margarete Steffin – Seeräuber Jenny and Lied des Schiffsjungen. In the center of the exhibition we see two sails with the lyrics to these songs printed on them, surrounded by renditions of the songs on-screen. Throughout the exhibition we can hear Pirate Jenny, as performed by Nina Simone, illustrating the influence of Marxism on the music of the black American working class.
Another video piece links protests against the housing shortage during the Weimar Republic to Berlin’s current gentrification problem. Four short clips protest the housing market pushing lower-income families out of their homes, and the crumbling policies that fail to protect renters.
In the video work The Insurrection will not be Tweeted we see Wudtke performing her version of Gil Scott Heron’s classic The Revolution will not be Televised. The video curiously starts with a young black man invading Wudtke’s space with his smartphone. Wudtke is dressed in a suit of what seems to me an African textile pattern with analogue phones. The video is full of colliding symbolism, and offset by the notion that contemporary activist movements do rely heavily on social media to gain momentum. I assume, however, that this paradox is intentional, and Wudtke is reminding us that the real insurrection takes place in the physical realm.
Pirate Jenny is built upon an impressive amount of research, which is made accessible in the form of booklets, wall texts, and archive material. She delivers her message straightforwardly. Still at times the performances do feel cringy – but who really cares, when the message is good?
October 15th – November 25th
Open 10h – 20h
Galerie im Saalbau
Karl-Marx-Str. 141, 12043 Berlin