On the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the city partnership between Paris and Berlin, the exhibition “OSTKREUZ: Un Visa pour Paris” focuses on the significance of the French capital Paris for the Berlin-based photography agency OSTKREUZ.
Image above: Ute Mahler, Paris, 1981, © Ute Mahler/OSTKREUZ
OSTKREUZ – Agentur der Fotografen was founded by seven photographers in East Berlin in 1990, one year after the fall of the Wall and before German reunification. The idea of founding the agency in the form of a collective run by the photographers themselves was born in Paris in 1990, where two months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the seven founding photographers, who were known to each other, showed their work alongside around 200 other East German artists at the invitation of the French state as part of the legendary exhibition “L’Autre Allemagne hors les murs”, which lasted only three days, in the Paris art centre “La Villette”. At that time, they all still had to enter France from the GDR with a visa – and only a few of them had even been given the opportunity to travel to other European countries in the years before. Paris was considered a place of longing – and participation in the Paris exhibition became a turning point in the artistic careers of many of the participating East German artists. This was also the case for the founding photographers of OSTKREUZ: only a few months after the Villette exhibition, they put the idea born in Paris into practice and founded their agency, which is still run by the photographers themselves and is currently considered Germany’s most renowned photography collective.
Four of the founders of OSTKREUZ are still members of the agency today: Harald Hauswald, Ute Mahler and Werner Mahler as well as Sibylle Bergemann, who died in 2010.
In the late 1970s and into the 1980s, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the photographers Sibylle Bergemann and Ute Mahler, who were already well-known in the GDR, had the rare privilege of repeatedly travelling to Paris separately in the context of commissions or competitions, each of them entering the country with an official written invitation and a visa. Both photographers photographed intensively and with uninhibited curiosity in Paris, they travelled away from their city of Berlin in order to find the familiar in the unfamiliar and at the same time to explore the different and the unknown.
The exhibition “OSTKREUZ: Un Visa pour Paris” will juxtapose the classic black-and-white photographs of Sibylle Bergemann and Ute Mahler taken between the 1970s and 1990s, each of whom captured the city of Paris and its inhabitants in their own way in images of austere melancholy. Secondly, through the presentation of contact prints and objects by OSTKREUZ photographers Harald Hauswald, Ute Mahler and Maurice Weiss, this exhibition will provide an insight into what happened during the multidisciplinary exhibition “L’Autre Allemagne hors les murs” in the Villette, which also included performances, concerts and a reception at the Élysée Palace in Paris for all participating artists.
The Institut français Berlin will also present the second exhibition in the Vitrines 2022 cycle, “Sentimental Building”, with bronze works by the German-French sculptor Philipp Röcker, from Wednesday, June 8th to Sunday, October 9th 2022.
Wednesday, 29 June to Saturday, 17 September 2022
Institut français Berlin