Wir träumen allein

Artist Feature of Alina Simmelbauer

An envelope. Two addresses in squiggly, pale blue letters, one located in Germany, the other in Cuba. This was all I had in my hands back in 2011 when I decided to search for my father, thus tracing my own history and identity.

My Cuban father was one of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who came to the GDR from countries such as Cuba, Vietnam, and Mozambique between 1962 and 1990 to work or study there for three to five years. When the employment ended, the right of residence expired at the same time, regardless of the personal ties that in many cases had developed in the meantime. Intimate relationships between the so-called contract workers and citizens of the GDR were neither welcomed nor accepted. Children of such relationships usually grew up with only one biological parent - in a society that kept silent about their origins yet let them feel their different background.

‚Wir träumen allein‘ (‚We dream alone‘) is the documentation of ten years of intense research, both exploring my personal family history and a piece of forgotten collective memory. Using photographs, videos, sound recordings, private memorabilia, and archival materials my project not only reveals my very own fate but sheds light on a forgotten chapter of contemporary history. Much like a palimpsest‚ ‚Wir träumen allein‘ (‚We dream alone‘) will overlap perspectives, emotions, and memories to reflect the complexity of modern German identities.

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