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Within WallsPrivate Life in the German Democratic Republic$
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Paul Betts

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199208845

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199208845.001.0001

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Picturing Privacy

Picturing Privacy

Photography and Domesticity

(p.193) 7 Picturing Privacy
Within Walls

Paul Betts

Oxford University Press

This chapter moves the discussion in a new direction, exploring how private life was presented in the visual arts and in particular photography. Whereas private life played little role in East German professional photography in the 1950s and early 1960s, the domestic sphere emerged as a new interest in the 1970s and 1980s. By that time a new generation of East German Fotokünstler saw themselves as maverick chroniclers of ‘real existing socialism,’ recording the private lives of ordinary East German citizens. Given the state's embracing of socialist realism as official ideology from the early 1950s on, as well as the much-touted relaxation of the Honecker Era, photographers began to test the meaning of socialist realism from fresh perspectives. This chapter addresses how and why many of them chose to go indoors in the 1970s and 1980s, identifying the private domestic sphere as the authentic register and last outpost of GDR socialism.

Keywords:   photography, interiors, socialism, domesticity, socialist realism, art, intimacy

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