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The exhibition at the Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin will be the first to systematically examine the visual language of the different political and social systems in both parts of Germany before 1989 in the field of industrial photography. The focus will be on modes of depicting progress in commissioned industrial photography.

Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin, Eingang zum Pei-Bau
Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin, Eingang zum Pei-Bau © DHM, Foto: Thomas Bruns

Selected photographs of the production processes in factories, the workers inside, and the finished products will be used to illustrate how photography and its contextualization convey the respective narratives of upswing.

In the course of the four decades of German-German division, what was considered progressive and thus worthy of representation changed. This change, in turn, allows conclusions to be drawn about the change in overall societal priorities and desires.

Especially at the time of the economic revival after worldwar 2 in divided Germany, promises of the future gained in importance. Smoking chimneys, smiling soot-smeared faces, seemingly endless assembly lines - behind these probably best-known motifs of industrial photography are promises: the prospect of more consumption, ever better, more beautiful and more functional products, and a generally enhanced quality of life.

The exhibition is curated by Carola Jüllig and Stefanie Regina Dietzel.

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