Double Bound Economies
Commissioned by GDR Kombinate (combines or industrial complexes), the photo archive was produced between 1967 and 1990 by the freelance photographer Reinhard Mende. Recorded on 1.600 films, accessible as contactsheets is an image of Real Socialism. It contains black and white and color photographs of GDR industrial operations in addition to GDR products presented at the International Trade Fair in Leipzig. The exhibited products were to be exported internationally and deliberately displayed to promote a social system: The trading goods as means to design socialism. Real Socialism was, thus, not just the condition of production, but was on display as a marketable good for international markets and served as a political means for achieving sovereign state recognition. The photo archive is a starting point of a multilayered research carried out in a group of artists, curators, historians, and architects. It becomes manifest in exhibitions in 2012 and 2013 and several publications, such as the exhibition catalogue, a students publication. Along a selection of images from the photo archive, the exhibitions and the catalogue include various artistic contributions, context material and interviews. The exhibition catalogue combines new commissions of texts and re-prints of seminal essays on design, photography and the archive. The photo archive is organized along archival numbers, titles, dates, that were assigned by the photographer. As part of the research process tags were developed and attributed to individual images. These tags, including delegation, exterior, fashion, graphic structure, laboratory, lamps, meeting, packaging, solidarity, visitors, etc. are arranged in the main categories theme, concept, site, category and are meant to evolve over time. Users are invited to comment the images on the website and propose additional tags.