Werkstatt für Photographie 1976-1986 (Eng. Ed.)


This is the first book about the history, influences, and impact of the “Werkstatt für Photography” (Photography Workshop) founded by the Berlin photographer Michael Schmidt at the Volkshochschule Kreuzberg in 1976. In the midst of the Cold War, the Werkstatt initiated an artistic “airlift” to the United States, a democratic field of experimentation beyond the pale of traditional vocational and political-institutional standards. Those same years witnessed the establishment of infrastructures in West Germany that paved the way for the emancipation of photography as an art form. These included documenta 6 (1977), the first photo galleries and photography journals, and a number of pathbreaking exhibitions. Berlin, Hanover, and Essen played important roles in that process. All in all, the picture of a medium in transition emerges, a medium that developed an autonomous form of artistic authorship in the field of documentary. This book presents the story of German photography in the 1970s and 1980s, its international ties, its protagonists, and its networks.
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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

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Werkstatt für Photographie 1976-1986


Florian Ebner, Felix Hoffmann, Inka Schube, Thomas Weski, Ute Eskildsen, Carolin Förster, Christine Frisinghelli, Virginia Heckert, Klaus Honnef & Jörg Ludwig


Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König C/O Berlin, Museum Folkwang Essen, Sprengel Museum Hannover








24 x 27 cm




225 (150 color)




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