In 2024 the OSTEN Festival will present the project “Original Wolfen” which examines how inhabitants of Wolfen, a district of Bitterfeld-Wolfen in Saxony-Anhalt, have experienced the structural transformation of their once industrial city. The project also spotlights the situation in Rochester (USA) and Shostka (Ukraine) – both of which share historic ties with Wolfen.
In 1910 Agfa opened a film factory in Wolfen which would later become the largest in Europe. It was there that colour film was invented, the patents and chemicals of which were sent to the United States after World War II, specifically to Rochester, New York, where Kodak soon started manufacturing a product using the same process. Under Soviet occupation, the factories in Wolfen were dismantled and rebuilt in Shostka with the purpose of building the largest colour film plant in the Soviet Union. During the era of the GDR, Agfa was renamed ORWO (Original Wolfen) and continued producing film reels for the East German film company DEFA. ORWO had a flourishing private photography business and exported material to countries around the world. However, as the city’s environmental pollution worsened, it came to symbolise the failed experiment of socialism and later the disruptive force of deindustrialisation.
A meadow now covers the area where the ORWO factory once stood. This is where the project organisers will operate a temporary exhibition pavilion for the festival. In cooperation with international partners, e.g. the Goethe-Institut in Kyiv and the George Eastman Museum, the project will award three research grants to finance commissioned works. To this end, artists will visit Wolfen, Rochester and Shostka to search for remnants of the defunct film industry. Students of the “Expanded Cinema” class at the Leipzig Academy of Fine Arts and the “Expanded Theater” master’s course at the University of the Fine Arts in Berne, and other participants will develop a programme for the pavilion consisting of film screenings, performances and other formats.
Artistic director: Aljoscha Begrich
Curator: Anne Diestelkamp
Architect: Benjamin Förster-Baldenius / raumlaborberlin
Participants: Jan Caspers, Lucila Guichon, Britt Hatzius, Dima Levytzskyi, Maryna Makarenko, Anne König / Jan Wenzel, Michikazu Matsune, Martin Maleschka, Tobias Zielony
Festival: ORIGINAL WOLFEN pavilion, Wolfen: 1 – 16 Jun. 2024
Platz der Deutschen Einheit 4 a