The Factory Floor in the German Democratic Republic
Opening Decisive Moment Gallery. June 20th at 2pm
Decisive Moment Gallery. June 20th to September 19th 2009
The first UK showing of the work of Berlin photographer Georg Krause opens at Darlington Media Group’s Decisive Moment Gallery on Saturday 20th June. Lost World was produced during the final years of the communist German Democratic Republic.
Since the eighties, when he was still a student of photography, Georg Krause has made work the theme of his photography. He grew up in the German Democratic Republic fatherless, and started his own working life in the opencast mines of Hagenwerda near Görlitz.
What impressed him then were the men with huge machines who performed this heavy work on a daily basis. They called each other “mates” and wished each other luck at the beginning and end of the day with the miners’ traditional greeting: “Glück auf!”
Around 1985 he produced “The Working World of the Smelters” and “The Copper Foundry“, followed in 1987 by ‘The Working World of the Department Store“, and in 1988/89 “The Women Who Feed Building Workers“.
Initially he used the working environment as a source for images of people. Over time the world of work became his theme, and people provided the material, becoming a factor in his broader exploration of “People – Work – Life“. The eternal philosophy of living to work and working to live, and the conditions in which life actually unfolds here and today, are his principal themes – not the world of the rich and the beautiful. His “Working Worlds” are serial formats devoted to specific subsets of the working environment, although each work in the series must also speak for itself.
Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union-led experiment in a totalitarian form of state control, East Germans look back on this Lost World with a mixture of relief and regret. Relief that the days of shortages and grey uniformity are past. But regret for the way in which the west ruthlessly demolished many important social pillars of life. Work, guaranteed under the GDR regime, is one such pillar that is gone. Unemployment in Germany’s eastern states stood at 13% in 2008, compared with 6.4% in the west. Georg Krause’s Working Worlds are truly lost.