After the wall between East and West Germany was destroyed in 1989, the rapid political reunification of the country was greeted with euphoria. However, psychological and cultural reunification has proved to be a much slower and more difficult process. Michael Schmidt, a lifelong Berlin resident, approaches that anxious process in part by reflecting on Germany's past.
About half of the works are Schmidt's own photographs; the remainder are photographs he made from other photographs culled from newspapers, magazines, propaganda pamphlets, and other such sources. The meanings of historical monuments and political symbols, of particular gestures and facial expressions and styles of clothing, are left open to interpretation. Each viewer is challenged to judge whether a given image represents East or West Germany, a villain or a victim, a moment in 1935, 1965, or 1995.
EIN-HEIT merges two artistic traditions, treating photography both as a medium for describing personal experience and as a vast, impersonal resource created by the mass media. The book explores the emotional weight of history, the power of ideological symbols, and the relationship of the individual to the body politic.
320pp, 190 × 265 mm
Walther König, 2022
Re-edition, originally published in 1996