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Dimensions:
220 × 190 mm
224 pages
Format:
Paperback
ISBN:
9781780237480
Illustrations:
115 illustrations, 55 in colour
Published:
01 May 2017
Series:
Exposures

Photography and Germany Andrés Mario Zervigón

The meeting of photography and Germany evokes pioneering modernist pictures from the Weimar era and colossal digital prints that define the medium’s art practice today. It also recalls horrifying documents of wartime atrocity and the relentless surveillance of East German citizens. Photography and Germany broadens these perceptions by examining photography’s multi-faceted relationship with Germany’s turbulent cultural, political and social history. It shows how many of the same phenomena that helped generate the country’s most recognizable photographs also led to a range of lesser-known pictures that similarly documented or negotiated Germany’s cultural identity and historical ruptures.

The book rethinks the photography we commonly associate with the country by focus­ing on how the medium heavily defined the notion of ‘German’. As a product of the modern age, photography intervened in a fraught project of national imagining, largely productively but sometimes catastrophically. Photography and Germany covers this history chronologically, from early experiments in light-sensitive chemicals to the tension between analogue and digital technologies that have stimulated the famous contemporary art photography associated with the country.

Richly illustrated with many previously unpublished images, this is the first single-authored history of German photography.

‘The Exposures series is carefully commissioned to achieve the surprisingly rare balance of offering an easily readable “text book” style approach to the medium’s multiple and complex histories and discourses, whilst simultaneously producing a specialist scholarly resource . . . ‘[Zervigón] brings an astute awareness of the political mobility of the photographic image to this nuanced, thorough account of photography in Germany . . . Zervigón’s book undoubtedly succeeds in offering an insightful, commendably readable and thoughtfully framed contribution’ – Source Magazine

‘Zervigón has written the first English-language survey of the history of photographic practice in Germany from the medium’s beginnings to the present day . . . The book's core strength resides in the author’s focus on the uses made of photography during the many periods of social and political turmoil that mark Germany’s history. In no other nation have political events so directly impacted the history of the medium as in Germany, and – in consequence of the destruction and diaspora of modernist artists by the Nazis in the 1930s – those events have in turn impacted the history of the medium throughout the Western world. The writing is informed, insightful, and lucid, and the author presents photographs in the venues of high art, commerce, journalism, propaganda, and even personal albums. The book’s design is clean and provides a good platform for the 122 well-reproduced photographic illustrations. This is a valuable addition to the literature on photography. Highly recommended.’ – Choice

‘Delicately navigating the complex history of Germany, a nation state invented in the same century as photography, Andrés Mario Zervigón shows how photographic images have both buttressed and fissured that state ever since. Addressing vernacular and artistic photographs with equal aplomb, Zervigón offers a welcome overview of German photography that will be essential reading for anyone interested in this topic.’ – Geoffrey Batchen, Professor of Art History, Victoria University of Wellington, and author of Burning with Desire: Conception of Photography

‘Through a powerful interpretation of outstanding examples, Andrés Mario Zervigón provides an exciting narrative of Germany’s troubled encounter with modernity. A brilliantly written survey which is both an indispensable introduction into the history of German photography and a significant contribution to our understanding of the manifold relationship between the medium and the German society.’ – Steffen Siegel, Professor for the Theory and History of Photography at Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen

‘Photography can be an agent of memory and history, giving shape to conflictual understandings of national identity. Photography AND Germany persuasively juxtaposes the fractured history of modern Germany and the multi-layered evolution of German photography in politics and the arts, the public and the private sphere. An eminently readable book and a model analysis of the rise and the effects of a visual medium once it had begun to saturate everyday life.’ – Andreas Huyssen, Villard Professor of German and Comparative Literature, Columbia University, and author of Miniature Metropolis: Literature in an Age of Photography and Film

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Andrés Mario Zervigón is Associate Professor of the History of Photography at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. His previous books include John Heartfield and the Agitated Image: Photography, Persuasion, and the Rise of Avant-garde Photomontage (2012) and Photography and Its Origins (co-edited with Tanya Sheehan, 2014).