Photographic book about the DDR
Book review of an interesting German photo book.
Last week we had a friend arrive back from a working stint in Germany, he picked up a photographic book by Roger Melis called, “In einen stillen Land”, Fotografien 1965 – 1989. He bought it in either Berlin or Leipzig, don’t know which.
The photographer was born in 1940 in Berlin and this book is his personal set of pictures taken between those above dates. It is a very good book for photojournalism ideas. In fact, it is photojournalism in very pure form.
There are about 170 pages of pictures in the 192 page hardcover book. The pictures are quite provoking as they show a life that virtually all of us who grew up in the more democratic countries, never experienced.
On page 32-33 which is a double page spread the caption says it all:- “Christinenstrasse, Berlin, um 1975”. The picture shows the typical 5 story buildings of Europe but the buildings show no signs of repair since the end of WWII. It is possible to see the damage in certain sections of the buildings as bullet marks, they may not be, but they do look like bullet markings.
The front cover picture, which you can see by going to, www.lehmstedt.de is on page 41 and simply says, “Rummel an der Michangelostrasse, Berlin, 1969.
On page 35 there is a very good picture showing very well dressed, higher ranking military men, one of which looks as though he enjoys his position in life quite well. Behind them is a collection of trucks with what looks like rocket launchers loaded on them. The caption is:- “Parade zum 8. Mai, Gertraudenstrasse, Berlin, 1965”.
There are lots of very good pictures throughout the book that show life in the DDR, quite an interesting array in fact.
The book is published by Lehmstedt Verlag, Leipzig 2007 the ISBN is 9783-3-937146-52-2
In my opinion one of the best picture books of the former GDR is by Helga Paris, who happens to live just down the street from me (but I only met her once). The book is Diva in Grau. Häuser und Gesichter in Halle, the images were part of a controversial exhibition in GDR times. The ISBN is 3898123618. Of course there are many, many more good books in many different styles from many time periods about the GDR. Regards, Hal
Hal, I've never heard of that book so I googled it and saw the cover which looks like some of the pictures in the book by Roger Melis.
Was she in the East or West before the wall came down?
As an aside, we currently have a touring exhibition going around a few galleries in The UK which focusses on GDR photography. Artists examined include Helga Paris, Arno Fischer, Evelyn Richter, Ulrich Wüst, Erasmus Scroeter, Gundula Schulze Eldowy, Ursula Arnold, Maria Sewcz and Sibylle Bergemann.
I enclose info from organiser's web page:
(the Cornerhouse Gallery in Manchester), which gives info on the exhibition and links to the artists as well streamed interviews etc. A catalogue was produced called 'Do Not Refreeze' which should also be available from the Cornerhouse, and this reprsents a really useful introduction to the work of these photographers and to photographic life in the GDR generally.
Graham. Thanks for the "heads-up" on this exhibition. Looks well worth a visit. It's currently in Southend-on-Sea. As Andy K lives there I wonder if he has or will be popping along to it and share his views on it.
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