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BONE MUSIC. The exhibition on the X-Ray Audio project at Villa Heike – 14.08.-05.09.2021

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Tape recorders were not yet available on the market and vinyl was rare. When the Soviet regime brutally controlled the recording industry during the Cold War, music lovers in the underground came up with an unusual idea: with specially built recording devices, they pressed censored music onto old X-ray pictures from hospitals.

In this way, forbidden songs and genres – from western jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, Russian emigrant folk songs, gypsy tangos to prison songs – also found their way clandestinely onto the record players of music fans of that time.

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BONE MUSIC Garage Opening Day © X-Ray Audio Project

Produced for Villa Heike in Berlin, BONE MUSIC tells the story of a unique underground phenomenon in the USSR from the 1940s to the 1960s, where underground technology, forbidden culture, recycling, Cold War politics and human ingenuity intersect.

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Ausstellung BONE MUSIC © X-Ray Audio Project

It was a time when a daring subculture of smugglers used X-ray images to create and distribute recordings of banned foreign jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and Russian emigrant songs. Through historical artefacts and objects, sound, films and installations, the exhibition immerses the audience in the world of the Smugglers and explores their underground activities, which were both defiant cultural protest and ingenious enterprise.

I took this soft, flexible record in my hands and looked at it through the light, and I saw the image of bones. That fascinated me immediately. Then I put the record on my mother’s gramophone and heard a voice singing. I was stunned.

Kolja Vasin, born 1945, Leningrad, BONE MUSIC record buyer

From 14 August to 5 September 2021, BONE MUSIC – the exhibition on the X-Ray Audio Project tells this exciting and highly political piece of music history from a time when people risked punishment or even imprisonment for their favourite music. At the same time, the exhibition reveals the unintentional beauty and elegance of the rare “BONE MUSIC” records that were once created out of necessity.

BONE MUSIC is always open Thursdays to Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. at Villa Heike near the Hohenschönhausen memorial in the former Stasi restricted area, with free admission.

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Villa Heike © Deborah Brzezinski, Buero Doering

Nach Tel Aviv, Moskau, Tokyo, London, Belfast und St. Petersburg kommt BONE MUSIC nun nach Berlin. BONE MUSIC wird kuratiert vom X-Ray Audio Project (UK), Stephen Coats und Paul Heartfield, in Zusammenarbeit mit Cardboardia (RUS) und buero doering – Fachhandel für Ereignisse und wird gefördert durch den Hauptstadtkulturfonds und das Bezirksamt Lichtenberg, Amt für Weiterbildung und Kultur. Kooperationspartner sind die Gedenkstätte Hohenschönhausen und Dussmann.

WHERE? Villa Heike, Freienwalder Straße 17, 13055 Berlin-Alt-Hohenschönhausen

WHEN? 14.08.-05.09.2021, Do-So 12:00 – 20:00 Uhr

COSTS? Admission free

Lange Nacht der Bilder in Lichtenberg 03.09.2021, noon – midnight

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