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Leipzig

Two years after the Berlin wall came down, artists from Cologne in West Germany and Leipzig in the former socialist, eastern part of the country organized a cultural exchange program and an independent exhibition series in both cities.

A Brief Overview

The Leipzig University for the Arts "Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst" was always a fortress of socialist conservatism in the GDR. No wonder that most representatives of the school of classical modernism, who fled the Nazi regime didn't return to East Germany after the war. They moved to the west or stayed abroad. Exceptions like John Heartfield, a leading figure of the DADA movement, found themselves forced into living a shadowy existence.
These circumstances led in the early 1970's to a counter movement in the Leipzig art scene that the government was unable to control. The artist group "Mogollon" created an open air gallery in the garden of sculptor Günther Huniat, which became a meeting point for artists and their audience. Gert Harry Lybke, aka Judy, founded in 1983 together with other artists the first private gallery in his living room.
In another area of town called "Connewitz", the first punks squatted old houses and drove the officials mad with sounds that shattered the socialist Disneyland. Cartoonists like Schwarwel printed their first underground comics.

Punks and skins in leipzig Connewitz. Photography by Paul Kalkbrenner

Ingo Gräbner, head of the "Ehrenfelder Kunstverein", an association of Cologne based artists and gallerists, visited Leipzig with me in 1991. We met artists, musicians and gallerists to invite them to Cologne. I still remember the warm welcome they suprised us with. And their laid back way of life was infectious.

In 1992 I returned to Leipzig with my 4x5" Sinar and a Polaroid back to portray the city and its artists for the exhibition catalogue. I decided on a large format camera basically because of its slowness, a quality which would allow me to capture the people I wanted to photograph in a more deeply and relaxed way. They were in no hurry and neither was I. The black & white Polaroid material suited the city's somewhat morbid look like a glove.

Mogollon Freiluftgalerie in Leipzig Stötteritz
Punks and skins unite under the Jolly Roger in Connewitz
Click to see the pictures

17 pictures in this gallery

Mogollon open air gallery

See also:

Kaeseberg
Sheila Reimann

Furthermore, it allowed an instant feedback and made a nice present for the models. I just kept the negatives, which have an extremely fine grain - a quality that emphasizes the expression of the photograph and its subject.

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