NINA HAGEN-PUNK GODMOTHER
Daughter of art, her father was a writer, her mother a singer and actress and her stepfather, Wolf Biermann, was a political activist Wolf Biermann that Nina’s mum married when Nina was 11 years old.
Nina Hagen has always lived, therefore, in an eclectic and culturally lively environment; it was inevitable that she would very soon enter the art world, at the age of 17 as a singer with her first single “Du hast den Farbfilm verge ssen” (“You forgot to take the color film”).
Her stepfather’s political activism, in contrast to the USSR, brought him and his family to West Germany. From here Nina split her time between Germany and London, where her “artistic education” continued.
In London Nina met Punk and let herself be carried away by that rebellious and artistically lively world, meeting all those people that later would become famous, starting with the Sex Pistols.
Known as the “Punk Godmother”, apparently because she was older than the other punk kids (she was just 22), Nina also began to make her way into the punk and rebellious London of the ’70s, pushing ahead with her career as a musician and singer.
After the London period, Nina returned to Germany, bringing with her the punk sounds that would be known in her home country together with the band Lokomotive Kreuzberg.
Just in her twenties, she decided to move on her own to the United States, where she published her first album in English in 1982, from the very explicit and controversial title “NunSexMonkRock“.
Her eclectic and eccentric style recalled that noisy and colorful punk feeling that Nina lived in London, but also Andy Warhol’s American Pop Art and the indissoluble bond of the “godmother of punk” with Hinduism.
Often she is portrayed with the typical Indian Sari on the head and with her typical heavy make-up.
The result is a unique style, molded on a life lived in many different places, gathering the most diverse and varied inspirations.
A chameleonic character who has caused a sensation on more than one occasion: talking about female masturbation during a television show and declaring her beliefs in UFOs; and saying that she is passionate about esotericism and oriental religions. Not to mention when, at the age of 31, she married a punk boy just 16 years old.
Mother of two children, eclectic musician, citizen of the world, Nina Hagen has collaborated with many world artists, the Pistols as mention and with the electronic music composer Christopher Franke and with the Apocalyptica. She inspired musicians including Cindy Lauper.
She wrote three autobiographies: “Ich bin ein Berliner” (1988), “Nina Hagen: That’s Why the Lady Is a Punk” (2003), and “Bekenntnisse” (2010).
She has reinterpreted pieces by Bertolt Brecht; lent her voice as Sally in the German version of Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare before Christmas”.
Nina Hagen has lived many different lives; she loved to play different characters, change her look and live in various places around the world. Wherever she moved, she managed to impose herself and stand out for her artistic talent, her charisma, her tenacity as a fighter. Theater and music lover, vegetarian and socially active, she sided against the Iraq war and continues to make her voice heard of feminist, artist and “mother of punk”.
Words by Federica Diaz Splendiani