German Photographic Cultures across the Iron Curtain.
Edited by Sarah E. James.
Yale University Press, New Haven, 2013. 320 pp., 10 color and 170 black & white illustrations, 7½x10".
This ambitious publication is the first book to thoroughly evaluate the photography that emerged during Germany’s geopolitical division from the 1950s to the 1980s. With richly illustrated and exhaustively researched analyses of photographic projects from East and West Germany, including exhibitions, photo-essays, private archives, and photo-books, Common Ground constructs a comparative perspective, examining how sequence, seriality, and repetition were mobilized to produce forms of solidarity and political agency.
Author Sarah James places German postwar photography in the context of Soviet, American, and European photographic developments; the specific cultural experiences of the Cold War; and the shifting politics of German identity. By reconsidering the relationship between divergent cultures of the pre-war Weimar period and the Cold War era, Common Ground prompts new readings of major figures such as Bernd and Hilla Becher, Karl Blossfeldt, and August Sander, as well as historically neglected figures such as Karl Pawek, Evelyn Richter, and Rudolf Shäfer. The result is a groundbreaking study of the political and pedagogical functions of documentary photography.