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Photographs by Sibylle Bergemann, Ute Mahler, Harald Hauswald and Maurice Weiss

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 agency of photographers OSTKREUZ.

Fassade vom Institut francais
Fassade vom Institut francais © visitBerlin, Foto Thomas Kierok

OSTKREUZ - Agency of Photographers was founded by seven photographers in East Berlin in 1990, one year after the fall of the Berlin 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 center "La Villette". At that time, they all still had to enter France from the GDR via 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 also applies to 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 collective of photographers.

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.

The photographers Sibylle Bergemann and Ute Mahler, who were already well-known in GDR times, were granted the rare privilege in the late 1970s and into the 1980s, before the fall of the Wall, of repeatedly traveling to Paris separately in the context of commissions or competitions; entry was in each case by official written invitation as well as by visa. Both photographers have photographed intensively and with uninhibited curiosity in Paris, they have traveled away from their city Berlin to find the familiar in the foreign and to explore the other and the unknown at the same time.

The exhibition "OSTKREUZ: Un Visa pour Paris" will, on the one hand, 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 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.
Additional information
Vernissage on Wednesday 29 June at 19 clock - free admission.

Gallery opening hours: Monday: 14:00-19:00 Tuesday: 9:00-12:00 / 13:00-18:00 Wednesday: 9:00-13:00 /14:00-18:00 Thursday: 9:00-12:00 / 13:00-18:00 Friday: 9:00-12:00 / 13:00 -17:30 Saturday: 11:00-17:00 Sunday: closed
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