East German photography, 1980-1989


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Sonia Voss (Director), Jean Torrent (Translation), Bernard Banoun (Translation), Aurelie Maurin (Translation)

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, what do we know about East German photography in France? The result of several years of research in Berlin and several cities in the former GDR, the images presented here are the result of the decade preceding the fall of the Wall (1980-1989) and the work of 16 artists, still little shown outside their country.
In the midst of economic decline and the loss of ideological support from its citizens, the GDR was in its final years. Boredom and desire, impatience – sometimes melancholic, sometimes raging – generated by repression, standardization and scarcity characterized the youth of that time. The existential and artistic strategies are as diverse as the creators who have gone through this period: confrontation of social taboos, inner withdrawal and introspection, escape into dreams, reinvention of oneself through transvestism and staging….
Without disavowing the humanist tradition that has long dominated East Germany, some photographers have renewed the genre by abandoning the poetic empathy of their predecessors for a more melancholic, even disillusioned approach, or on the contrary by documenting the marginalized, the rebels, the punks. Others put the body at the centre of their experiments, drawing on hybridization and performative art to translate their thirst for subversion and speed, or observing their faces and bodies as if to ward off their disintegration. Still others chronicle their daily lives and their circle of relatives, gathered in the Prenzlauer Berg district, still strewn with the ruins of the war.

Through the tenacious and inventive expression of their individuality and subjectivity, these photographers have constituted a form of artistic resistance and made the Wall tremble.

Photographs :
Tina Bara, Sibylle Bergemann, Kurt Buchwald, Lutz Dammbeck, Christiane Eisler, Thomas Florschuetz, York der Knoefel, Ute Mahler, Sven Marquardt, Barbara Metselaar Berthold, Helga Paris, Manfred Paul, Rudolf Schäfer, Gundula Schulze Eldowy, Gabriele Stötzer, Ulrich Wüst

Editor : Xavier BARRAL
Publication year : 2019
Number of pages : 239
Language : French
ISBN 13 : 978-2365112345