Ostalgie, a neologism that comes from nostalgie and Ost, meaning east, is ascribed to nostalgic feelings for the former East Germany in an “it wasn’t really that bad, was it?” sense.
And, truth be told, in some cases — particularly for women — the communist East was better, with childcare for free and summer camp at virtually no cost, days off for housework, and greater social equality. Weigh this against the overpowering paranoia induced by the omnipresent role of the Stasi (Staatssicherheit, or state security, i.e. the domestic spying agency), and maybe the Ostalgie fades away a little.
(Please go see The Lives of Others.)
Somehow, this Ostalgie is metamorphosing into my own little brand of nostalgia, this one, however, less about the former East Germany and more about being an unemployed, full-time artist. With darkroom access whenever I want it — and, to my credit, that I have finally been using at least semi-regularly — I turn out dusty prints, and don’t take the time to really clean the place. With an excellent video camera at home, I don’t take it out enough to even finish the short assignments for a video seminar I’m only taking half-heartedly. I have ideas I’ve had for months, scribbled down hastily, scribbled down drunkenly, always with the excitement in the pen and when closing the book that doesn’t somehow seem so brilliant upon reflection. Now, I have a good job — a perfect job, in many ways. But my heart is just not in it.
How was it that just a few months ago, I spent eight-hour days working on my own video pieces, I think? Then I remember the agony of not having enough money to pay rent, and how that one week that I work all the time on my own creative projects was counterweighted by many weeks of being too depressed and apathetic to do anything at all with my days.
The Kunstalgie passes through me, I spent the weekend floating as a little boat on a rain puddle, and the sun beats down, dries it all away, and I return to work.