Edition 2019



What do we know about East German photography 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall? This exhibition focuses on the final decade of this large, little known chapter of history from the prism of the body. It aims to show how, from within an authoritarian state based on the negation of individuality, physical confinement, surveillance and normativity, photography was a medium through which artists were able to express the singularity of their lives and their unique relationships to their bodies, displaying a powerful inner freedom. Following three decades of documentary, humanist photography, a more subjective, hybrid language starts to emerge at the beginning of the 1980s. Without disavowing what they inherited from their predecessors, photographers distanced themselves from subtly critical realism in order to directly confront social taboos and lend substance to the men and women of their time. Marginalized or unified, staged or self-performed, dreamy, introspective, or explosive—bodies express the life boiling over from under the cover of repression, the solitude of the individual at the heart of the collective, the irreducible subject.

Tina Bara (1962), Sibylle Bergemann (1941-2010), Kurt Buchwald (1953), Lutz Dammbeck (1948), Christiane Eisler (1958), Thomas Florschuetz (1957), York der Knoefel (1962-2011), Ute Mahler (1949), Eva Mahn (1947), Sven Marquardt (1962), Barbara Metselaar Berthold (1951), Manfred Paul (1942), Rudolf Schäfer (1952), Gundula Schulze Eldowy (1954), Gabriele Stötzer (1953), Ulrich Wüst (1949)

Exhibition curator: Sonia Voss, winner of the Rencontres d’Arles curatorial research fellowship.
Publication: Les Libertés intérieures, texts by Sonia Voss and interviews with the artists, Xavier Barral, 2019 (French edition); The Freedom Within Us, Koenig Books, 2019 (English edition).

With support from IFA (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen).

  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture