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Progress as a Promise. Industrial photography in divided Germany

Dramatically lit factories, glowing steel, seemingly endless conveyor belts: the stockin- trade of industrial photography is the promise of more and better. Better working conditions and a better standard of living. More attractive, more functional, more plentiful consumer goods. In short, progress.

Photography is itself a product of industrialisation, and photographers have been capturing the world of work since the 1860s. In the process they have forged a specific visual canon. The exhibition shows photographs taken for industrial enterprises in East and West Germany between 1949 and 1990. They are exhibited for the first time in the contexts in which they were originally used, the diverse print media of the steel, chemical, textile and car industries. The exhibition reveals the ideas associated with the historic visual sources, drawing out differences and similarities between East and West in their depictions of progress – and thus in their promise of a better life.


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As part of EMOP Berlin - European Month of Photography

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