"Messys" with Method: Household Rubbish in a TV Format

Since 2014 / Project Head: Prof. Dr. Insa Härtel


Project Description

This cultural studies research focuses on so-called "messy TV broadcasts" (such as "Das Messie-Team – Start in ein neues Leben/The Messy Team – Starting a New Life", RTL II private TV broadcaster) in their before-and-after attire. While it initially looks in these broadcasts as though the rampant amount of things and items have almost assumed even the "running" of life here, by the end of each show with the help of clearing-out teams, not only has the "rubbish-filled" abode been tidied up, but also the life of the homeowner.

In this project, the focus is on the forms of these episodic and evidently televised cultural cleaning rituals (and not on the fates of the subjects concerned). How do such messy broadcasts work and impact, which gains (in pleasure) do they promise? In this regard, a look at the statements made and how they are made permits the recognition of something potentially conflict-ridden, e.g. in the interplay between a "childish" need and the assumption of responsibility, from letting-yourself-go and making-progress, from hiding and exposing-to-light, from hanging-on and making-a-new-start. Last but not least, one episode after the next always recommences with the piles of rubbish… Does a tension manifest itself in every space-forming TV format between a programmatic order and the dirt occurring therein as a basis for its functioning? The intention with this project is to explore such interconnections in an exemplary manner. Doing so, the concepts of "unclean" methods are also considered.

This project is in collaboration with the research area: Sides of home life. German language magazines on home life from the 19th century to the present day and their medial transferences, at the Mariann Steegmann Institut, Bremen (headed there by: Prof. Dr. Irene Nierhaus, Dr. Kathrin Heinz).

The sides of home life research project area is concerned with the research desideratum in the German-language media on the subject of home life from a media-aesthetic and ideology-critique perspective. The questions posed include in which way do journals and magazines produce and convey the discourse on home life, and through this to what extent are the conceptualisations and means of subjectivation which have been effective since the modern age constructively co-designed. The body of material extends from family sheets and housewife magazines from the 19th century through to magazines from the turn of the 20th century which examined and dealt with issues of the aesthetic and social structure of home-life interconnections, as well as television formats and then the internet since the 20th century. The actual home-life magazines area overlaps with both self-help literature types as well as with art, design and architecture magazines.

Project Head

Prof. Dr. Insa Härtel
IPU Berlin
Stromstr. 3b
10555 Berlin
E-Mail: insa.haertel(at)ipu-berlin.de