Alexandra Hopf

The Peasants (1927)


The play 'The Peasants' (1927) is about a fictional collaboration between Bertolt Brecht and Kasimir Malevich in Berlin in 1927. The boundaries between the narrative of their encounter, the stage directions, and the play itself are fluid. The publication contains a fragment of the script, historical source texts, photographs of the costumes, a sewing pattern, and an insert. The play explores the position of the peasants and the loss of their traditional structures through industrialization and forced collectivization during the Stalinist period.

The costumes, made of both traditional and high-tech materials, quite literally reflect this historical background and the fictional encounter between Brecht and Malevich. The communist symbol of the sickle meets the fist, symbolizing resistance. Both symbols are incorporated into the costumes in a wide variety of ways using free, ornamental compositions. The act of appropriating and reassigning these symbols allows for subverting their old political or historical attributions and creating a new space for meaning. The juxtaposition of time periods not only references the complexity of understanding culture solely against its own time but also highlights the impossibility of distancing oneself from the present.

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