Double Bound Economies
06 May - 01 Jul 2012
The project "Double Bound Economies" begins with a photo archive from the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The photographer of the archive is Reinhard Mende. Produced as commissioned works, these photographs document and dramatize the situation of productions in Volkseigene Betriebe (VEBs; people-owned enterprises) and the Internationale Leipziger Messe from 1967 to 1990.
The trade fair in Leipzig was then the most important site of trade between the East and the West, and so these photographs in particular mark an economic space that had two sets of ties: socialist ones, in terms of its production, and capitalist ones, in terms of its presentation. They included ties to the countries of the former Non-Socialist economic region (NSW), such as the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), Sweden, and France, as well as countries that since the mid-1970s had been involved in revolutionary struggles for liberation, such as Angola, Mozambique, and Ethiopia.
From that starting point, "Double Bound Economies" moves toward contemporary artistic and spatial positions, historical and theoretical analyses, and the production of a video project. The various forms of practice, both in terms of reading the archive and of the sometimes independent actions of the artists, raises the following core question: What forms of articulation are available to us to grasp the contradictions of the mutual involvements of socialism and capitalism in the form of design and visual production and to make them useful for current problems?
As a freelance photo documentarian in the GDR, Reinhard Mende worked independently of the usual agenda of the socialist planned economy and thus, much like the East German photographer Evelyn Richter, pursued a practice based on fees, which from the early 1970s onward was not unusual, especially in the context of the trade fair in Leipzig. He produced a body of work comprising around sixteen thousand photographs commissioned by various GDR collective combines. Seen from today’s perspective, they reveal a distanced view of the subjects they depict. At the same time, these photographs initiate a policy of ambivalent memory that vehemently refused any nostalgic reconstruction of a historical moment.
"Double Bound Economies" is centered on collective practice as a method of bringing things up-to-date, both in relation to the presentation of the archive and in the spirit of a curatorial method. Artists, theorists, scholars, and former participants were invited to view, comment on, or select from the archive. This collective work method resulted in a polyphonic dramatization of the archive while also reporting on a nonlinear approach to the GDR.
"Double Bound Economies" is directed by the curatorial team of Estelle Blaschke, Armin Linke, and Doreen Mende, adviced by Philip Ursprung. It consists of a traveling exhibition (architecture: Kuehn Malvezzi), a publication (design: Werkplaats Typografie, Arnhem; publisher: spector books, Leipzig) and a website that will make the archive accessible to the public for the long term www.doubleboundeconomies.net
"Double Bound Economies" opens as a guest exhibition in the independent art center HALLE 14 in Leipzig Station, which since 2002 had been using a twenty-thousand-square-meter production hall on the grounds of the Baumwollspinnerei in Leipzig for exhibitions of contemporary art and other art projects. It will travel to Centre de la photographie in Geneva (Fall 2012) and to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (Spring 2013).
"Double Bound Economies" has been produced in collaboration with the Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe and is supported by the Stiftung Federkiel, Bürgerstiftung Leipzig; AEEG – Association of Ethiopians Educated in Germany, Modern Art Museum Gebre Kristos Center, Addis Abeba; Deutsche Botschaft Addis Abeba; Goethe Institut Addis Abeba; DZA Druckerei zu Altenburg; Goethe Institut Boston; Semiotexte; Werkplaats Typografie; Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e.V.
Reinhard Mende, b. 1930, photographer (D); Bettina Allamoda, b. 1964, artist (D); Tekle Belete, b. 1928, photographer (ET); Peter Herbert Beyer, b. 1933, Designer (D); Fabian Bechtle, b. 1980, artist (D); Estelle Blaschke, b. 1976, photography historian (D); Hans-Otto Bräutigam, b. 1931, Diplomat (D); KP Brehmer, 1938-1997, artist (D); Haile Gabriel Dagne, b. 1941 (ET); Paola de Martin, b. 1965, design historian (CH); Harun Farocki, b. 1944, artist (D); Mark Fisher, b. 1968, theorist (UK); Laure Giletti, b. 1986, graphic designer (F); The Otolith Group, theorists/artists (UK); Sven Johne, b. 1976, artist (D); Matthias Judt, b. 1962, economic historian (D); Kiluanji Kia Henda, b. 1978, artist (AO); Helgard Hirschfeld, b. 1949, archivist (D); Armin Linke, b. 1966, artist (D); Valeria Malito, b. 1984, design student (IT) and Katja Saar, b. 1984, design student (D); Kuehn Malvezzi, architects (D, IT); Katrin Mayer, b. 1974, artist (D); Doreen Mende, b. 1976, curator/theorist (D); Allan Sekula, b. 1951, artist/theorist (USA) and Noël Burch, b. 1932, critic/filmmaker (USA); Kerstin Stakemeier, b. 1975, art historian (D); Philip Ursprung, b. 1963, art historian (CH); Thomas Weski, b. 1953, curator (D); Malte Wandel, b. 1982, artist (D); Christopher Williams, b. 1956, artist (USA, D).
Double Bound Economies
Edited by D. Mende, A. Linke, E. Blaschke
Design by Werkplaats / Laure Giletti, Arnhem
With various new artists contributions, theoretical texts and essays.
Released during Summer, 2012
Published by spector books, Leipzig
Saturday, June 23, 2PM, at Halle 14, Leipzig / "Ein Archiv ausstellen" (in German)
Mit Fabian Bechtle, Künstler; Estelle Blaschke, Fotografiehistorikerin; Armin Linke, Künstler. Im Anschluss: Panel-Diskussion zusammen mit Maryam Jafri, Korpys/Löffler, Oliver Chanarin, Seba Kurtis.
Friday, June 29, 7PM at Halle 14 / "Regiegruppe: Fotografie und Typografie als Werbemittel in der DDR" (in German)
Ein Gespräch zwischen Gert Günther / ehemaliger Leiter der Werbeabteilung AKA ELECTRIC Leipzig, Rainer Korn / ehemaliger Geschäftsführer des Warenzeichenverbandes Elektrogeräte der DDR und Reinhard Mende / ehemaliger freischaffender Bildreporter aus der DDR sowie mit Oliver Kossack / Künstler, Professor an der Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Leipzig und Doreen Mende / Kuratorin.
Both events in cooperation with f/stop Festival, Leipzig.
Halle 14: Zentrum für zeitgenössische Kunst, Baumwollspinenrein Leipzig
(May 5 – July 1, 2012)
Centre de la photographie, Geneva (Fall 2012)
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (Spring 2013)
The project is funded by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation).