ddr as a trademark-logo on billboards at Alexanderplatz station U2

In 1990 the state DDR (German Democratic Republic; translator's comment) was dissolved and the new born provinces joined the former Federal Republic. What happened after the wall came down, how and on which premises the reunification took place - very different opinions exist on this. This complicated process of transformation Germany went through, and still does, is a central subject in this project.

This process is reflected in the transformation that the term DDR is going through in my work. The abbreviation for the socialist country becomes a trademark-logo.

The ddr logos were developped and completed in a nonprofit-cooperation with the new design company 52Nord in Berlin-Mitte.

The logos on the billboards intend to remind of well-known trademark-logos without being recognized too easily. They play with Ostalgia and the recognition of brands that represented the west. A clear identification is deliberately avoided. By strong contrasts in colour they clearly step into the foreground and accentuate the underground station.

Aage Langhelle

Translated from german by Andreas Brunstermann

ddr as a trademark-logo on billboards
at Alexanderplatz station U2

A discourse about urbanity, urban design and communication strategies in the public space is potentially eligible to reveal existing social structures and point out alternative models. These models in practice comprise a greater experience than the urban space is able to offer its inhabitants/users today. In such a discourse, I attach importance to the public space as a social arena where communication between the residents plays a central role. Who is able to get a word in today’s society and what sort of speaking is this? The interaction with art and art projects in the public space is naturally determined by the way we are dealing with the term art as well as by the position that we have in the public space and the political/social landscape. In my opinion, most of our public and visual production of symbols can be seen as a contribution to the forming of opinions – directly or indirectly. Expounding these problems was a dicisive intention in my ddr-project – which stands in a situationistic tradition and is furthermore using an adbuster-strategy.
By transferring the letters ddr into today’s world of commercial logos, my project attracted a lot of attention – as desired – and was discussed vividly.
The reactions ranged from the graffiti activist group cbs, who – by using a rather limited view of how to critically deploy the use of public spaces – claimed, that the project was lacking a critical discussion of advertising mechanisms, up to politicians in Berlin’s House of Representatives1 who – very absurdly – thought of ddr as a glorification of the former east german system.
ddr attracted lively interest from the public as well as national and international press – more than 30 papers and several radio and tv stations were reporting the project.


During an interpellation in the House of Representatives, the representative Krestel (F.D.P.) from the senate office asked, if the signets were not exalting a system of mischief, while a graffiti activist group - in a cloak-and-dagger-operation - exchanged one of the billboards at the station with their own logo. After a fairy long time the purloined billboard reappeared – clearly visible on the facade of the Kaufhof department store on Alexanderplatz.

Aage Langhelle