COMMON GROUND: GERMAN PHOTOGRAPHIC CULTURES ACROSS THE IRON CURTAIN

COMMON GROUND: GERMAN PHOTOGRAPHIC CULTURES ACROSS THE IRON CURTAIN.

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Sarah James comparative study of photography in Cold War East and West Germany considers the serial photographic image, or photo-essay, as an intervention deployed by documentary photographers, theorists, and exhibition designers on both sides of the Berlin Wall. Proceeding from an introduction that pits Edward Steichens iconic 1955 exhibition 'The Family of Man' at MoMA in New York against the comparatively obscure Bertolt Brecht volume 'Kriegsfibel,' also published in 1955, as equal and opposite photographic reactions to the post-war impulse toward collective humanism in the 1950s, James goes on to interrogate a series of photographic projects in the East and West that serve as intersection points for communication among the two Germanys, as well as a host of other contemporary and past influences both within and outside the German speaking world. She moves from Karl Paweks answer to Steichen originating in West Germany, the 1964 'Weltausstellung der Photographie' (world exhibition of photography) 'What is Man?' to East German Evelyn Richters unrealized documentary series embodied by single photographs, to Western Bernd and Hilla Bechers industrial images that for her destabilize the subject-object relationship and constitute an attempt at collectivity, and back to the Eastern context with Rudolf Schäfers 'Totengesichter' series, which elegantly depicted the recently deceased in the morgue of East Berlins

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