The working-class district of Kreuzberg at the end of the 1970s on the outer edge of West Berlin—and yet the lively center of a unique transatlantic cultural exchange. In the midst of the Cold War, the newly founded Werkstatt für Photographie (Workshop for Photography) located near Checkpoint Charlie started an artistic “air lift” in the direction of the USA, a democratic field of experimentation beyond traditional education and political and institutional standards. A special artistic approach emerged from a dialog between renowned photographers and amateurs, between conceptual approaches and documentary narrations, between technical mediation and substantive critique and altered the styles of many photographers over time thanks to its direct access to their reality. The Werkstatt für Photographie reached the highest international standing with its intensive mediation work through exhibitions, workshops, lectures, image reviews, discussions and specialized courses.
In 1976, the Berlin-based photographer Michael Schmidt founded the Werkstatt für Photographie at the adult education center in Kreuzberg. Its course orientation with a focus on a substantive examination of contemporary photography was unique and quickly lead to a profound understanding of the medium as an independent art form. When the institution was closed in 1986, it fell into obscurity.
On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Werkstatt für Photographie, C/O Berlin, the Museum Folkwang, Essen, and the Sprengel Museum Hannover are presenting a joint exhibition project, which for the first time portrays the history, influences and effects of this institution and its key players