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Photography Behind The Berlin Wall
by The Ovi Team
2008-01-26 10:00:22
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This exhibition brings together a group of photographers whose extraordinary contribution to European photography has quite literally been 'frozen out' by the cold war. Curated by Matthew Shaul, the exhibition includes works by Arno Fischer, Sibylle Bergemann, Helga Paris, Evelyn Richter, Maria Sewc, Erasmus Schroeter, Ulrich Wust, Gundula Schulze Eldowy, and Ursula Arnold.

Almost completely unknown in Britain, these artists developed their practice in the former East Germany, negotiating its omnipresent secret police to create imagery, increasingly compared to that of luminaries such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus and Paul Strand.

Disparate in background and experience, their works use an unforgiving documentary aesthetic to convey both the harsh realities and remarkable richness of life behind the iron curtain. These stunning images convey a glimpse of day-to-day life and evoke the claustrophobia, rage, envy and ideological pomp of the Communist era, as well as the unexpected personal warmth, tenderness and exoticism to be found throughout the socialist commonwealth.

Sticking closely to the mantra of 'realism' - the state directed creed which defined what was artistically acceptable - these photographers circumnavigated a rigid system of censorship to produce the most insightful and socially critical visual arts output in East Germany's forty year history. Had they been painters, sculptors, authors or playwrights, these photographers would have been arrested or imprisoned for their brazen portrayals of the underbelly of the socialist experiment. However, as photography was not considered by the East German authorities to be 'art', they were not only able to work but sometimes also to publish and exhibit in this strict police state. The resulting images expose the often tawdry reality of the socialist experiment, and the humour, stoicism and resignation with which East Germany's citizens dealt with their lives.

A catalogue is available to accompany the exhibition. 'Do Not Refreeze' is a touring exhibition from the University of Hertfordshire Galleries.



Please join us in the gallery to celebrate the opening of the exhibition ‘Do Not Refreeze’. Everyone is welcome, no invitation necessary.

Gallery open: Monday – Friday 9am – 7pm, Saturday 9am– 5pm. Closed Sunday & Bank Holidays

Focal Point Gallery, Southend Central Library, Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS2 6EX


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