Monday, November 17, 2008

“I was attracted by the pictures you would never find in the press"

It not only seems to be a landmark of Berlin, Germany and even Europe, but also a signifier of human lives: the Brandenburg Gate. Photographer Harald Hauswald has been attracted by it from an early stage on, and has now also centred his contribution to the OVERcoming DICTatorships exhibition on it. “At school we had compulsory civics, what the people called “Red Light Radiotherapy”. Once I asked our teacher about a famous photo, taken during the time when the wall was being built. I wanted to know why the Combat Groups of the Working Class at Brandenburg Gate turned their backs on the West. I could not understand why they were aiming their guns towards the East. Officially they were supposed to protect us against the class enemy. But if this had been true, they would have been facing the other way. How come they were presenting their backsides to the class enemy?”

For him Photography was a way to virtually escape from the feeling of confinement which terrified him in the German Democratic Republic. He used it as an opportunity to fully develop his personality and skills in spite of and against the off-the-shelf lifestyle imposed by real socialist authorities. That is why in 1989 he saw himself much better prepared for the tough sides of capitalist dog-eat-dog society than a considerable number of East Germans who had actually enjoyed and accepted the regime’s general policy of directing people through life and who only resented its specific impotence to live up to its pretensions. From the late 1970s onwards Hauswald had opened his eyes and lenses to the back side of the East German capital’s social reality of “people rooting in rubbish bins, and punks and hooligans” which was consciously underexposed in the official media.

Harald Hauswald, who currently has two exhibtions on the myth of Eastern Europe and football hooligans on display in Berlin, was interviewed by Barbara Lubich on his personal way through real socialism and beyond. Learn about an exciting drift of a young tramp yearning for Led Zeppelin, catapulted by love from the provinces to the capital and opposing the system just by his desire to live. Click here to see the video.