Next Article in Journal
Enemy Encounters in the War Poetry of Wilfred Owen, Keith Douglas, and Randall Jarrell
Previous Article in Journal
Gender, Language and a Lipstick: Creating Cultural Change in a World of Paradoxes
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Humanities 2018, 7(3), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7030088

Documentary Photography from the German Democratic Republic as a Substitute Public

Kingston School of Art, Kingston University, London KT1 2QJ, UK
Received: 25 April 2018 / Revised: 31 August 2018 / Accepted: 3 September 2018 / Published: 10 September 2018
Full-Text   |   PDF [8132 KB, uploaded 19 September 2018]   |  

Abstract

This paper discusses artistic documentary photography from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from the mid-1970s until the fall of the Berlin Wall, and suggests that it functioned as a substitute public–Ersatzöffentlichkeit–in society. This concept of a substitute public sphere sometimes termed a counter-public sphere, relates to GDR literature that, in retrospect, has been allocated this role. On the whole, in critical discourse certain texts have been recognised as being distinct from GDR propaganda which sought to deliver alternative readings in their coded texts. I propose that photography, despite having had a different status to literature in the GDR, adopted similar traits and also functioned as part of a substitute public sphere. These photographers aimed to expose the existing gap between the propagandised and actual life under socialism. They embedded a moral and critical position in their photographs to comment on society and to incite debate. However, it was necessary for these debates to occur in the private sphere, so that artists and their audience would avoid state persecution. In this paper, I review Harald Hauswald’s series Everyday Life (1976–1990) to demonstrate how photographs enabled substitute discourses in visual ways. Hauswald is a representative of artistic documentary photography and although he was never published in the official GDR media, he was the first East German photographer to publish in renowned West German and European media outlets, such as GEO magazine and ZEITmagazin, before the reunification. In 1990, he founded the ‘Ostkreuz–Agency of Photographers’ with six other East German documentary photographers. View Full-Text
Keywords: documentary photography; German Democratic Republic; GDR daily life; photography as a substitute public; ‘Ostkreuz–Agentur der Fotografen’; literature as a substitute public; Harald Hauswald documentary photography; German Democratic Republic; GDR daily life; photography as a substitute public; ‘Ostkreuz–Agentur der Fotografen’; literature as a substitute public; Harald Hauswald
Figures

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
SciFeed

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Pfautsch, A. Documentary Photography from the German Democratic Republic as a Substitute Public. Humanities 2018, 7, 88.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics

1

Comments

[Return to top]
Humanities EISSN 2076-0787 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top