Photographing under Dictatorships of the Twentieth Century: Public Spheres and Photographic Practices

Humboldt University Berlin, 26. – 28. October 2016

The visibility of power has always been indispensable for dictatorships — and photography was the leading medium of visual representation throughout most of the twentieth century. Particularly in dictatorships that lack independent media outlets, small public spheres or “kleine Öffentlichkeiten” (Gerhards/Neidhardt) can emerge. They are used by different communication communities, also in visual terms. The conference focuses on these various small public spaces and the attempts of dictatorial regimes to control these visual representations of the socio-political order, including private production.


Wednesday, 26 October 26

Keynote Lecture
Annette Vowinckel (Potsdam/Berlin): Image Agents. Photography as a New field of Action in the 20th Century

Welcome Reception

Thursday, 27 October

9.00 – 11.00
Panel 1: Views from the Fourth Estate: Photojournalism and Press Photography
Katalin Bognár (Budapest): A Country Without Christmas? Topics Missing from the Photograph Archives of the Hungarian Daily Newspaper Szabad Nép, 1949–1956
Rebekka Grossmann (Jerusalem): Global Visions, Envisioned Mobility and Visual Friction: Agency Photographs and the Contested Nature of a ‘National Socialist Aestheticsʾ
Helena Holzberger (Munich): The Visual Shaping of Stalin’s Orient. Photographs of Uzbekistan in the Soviet Press During the First Five-Years-Plan
Commentary: Harriet Scharnberg (Münster)

Coffee Break

11.15 – 13.15
Panel 2: Reverse Shot: Self/Representations in Photo Albums
Tatiana Saburova (Bloomington/Indiana): “Two Generations”: Public, Private, and the Images of Generations in the Soviet Photography
Nathalie Patricia Soursos (Vienna): The Dictator’s Photo-albums: Private and Public Photographs in the Metaxas-Dictatorship
Ulrich Prehn (Berlin): Framing Work: Visual Tropes and Narrative Paradigms in Private and Institutional Photo Albums from Nazi Germany
Commentary: Elizabeth Harvey


14.30 – 16.45
Panel 3: Close-ups: Localized Photographic Perspectives
Linda Conze (Berlin): Filling the Frame: Crowd Shots of May Day 1934 from Provincial Germany
Fátima Moura Ferreira / Patricia Leal (Minho/Lisbon): Re-reading the Photographic Archive: Political Imaginaries and Propagandistic Mis-en-scène – Portuguese New State
Sandra Starke (Berlin): Between Private and Public: Curt Biella’s Photographic Studio in Gunzenhausen under National Socialism
Julia Werner (Berlin): Shared and Divided Spaces: Photographic Perspectives on Occupied Warsaw (1939-1945)
Commentary: Malte Zierenberg (Berlin)

Coffee Break

17.00 – 19.00
Panel 4: The Artistic Lens: Photographic Appropriations and Interventions
Daria Panaiotti (St. Petersburg): Discipline of the Photographic Gaze: Normative Language and Individual Strategies in the Late-Soviet Documentary Photography
Bertram Kaschek (Dresden): Defensive Mimicry: Christian Borchert’s Photographic Interventions of the Late 1970s and 80s
Briana Smith (Des Moines/Iowa): „Fotografieren Verboten!“ Photography and Action Art in the Late GDR
Commentary: Petra Bopp (Hamburg)

19.30 – 20.30
Book Presentation
Thomas Medicus (Hg.), Verhängnisvoller Wandel. Ansichten aus der Provinz 1933-1949: Die Fotosammlung Biella (Hamburger Edition, 2016).

Friday, 28 October

9.00 – 11.30
Panel 5: Dodging and Burning: State Repression and Subversive Counter-Strategies
Alumah Florsheim-Shoham (Jerusalem): Public Space in a Dictatorship: the Stasi Photographers Design the Public Sphere
Denis Skopin (St. Petersburg): Elimination of “Public Enemies” From Group Photographs in the USSR During the Stalin Era: Psychological and Political Mechanisms of the Phenomenon
Natalija Arlauskaitè(Vilnius): Making the Soviet Atrocity Archive Visible: Photo/Graphic Art Projects by Lithuanian Artist Kestutis Grigaliunas
Jeff Hayton (Fairmount/Wichita): Capturing Difference under Dictatorship: Punk Rock, Photography & Dissent in the GDR
Commentary: Alexandra Oberländer (Bremen)

Coffee Break

12.00 – 13.00
Closing discussion

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