Die wunderbaren jahre
”Someone who is taking a deep breath will experience the world differently to someone who is being throttled”
Reiner Kunze, (1981)
Born in the 1960s, in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), my generation was brought up on one side of a divided Germany, without knowing the other. Play writer, Heiner Müller has described us a generation “without fatherland and without mother tongue”. Visualising this subject matter is a form of validating my experiences before I moved to England in 1992. We lived in a parallel universe, a reality alien to western democracy. Sending the first german cosmonaut into space in 1978 was prove of the superiority of socialism over capitalism. The artificial Earth satellite 'Sputnik' jetted around the earth to predict the glowing future , the victory of communism was within immediate reach.
The freedom of the press was entirely dependent on the will of the regime. Prospective publications had to pass through many different levels of censorship. Disobeying the rules carried harsh penalties. Access to books was restricted. Censorship was a constant pressure on writers, and a given for readers, who learnt to read between the lines. People took considerable risks distributing or lending one of the 'forbidden' books. There was a real chance of police or house arrest, just for being in possession of a banned piece of printed text.
I recently discovered notebooks of mine from the early 1980s, containing poetry and collections of short stories, from East German authors such as Reiner Kunze, Peter Huchel and Sarah Kirsch, which I was able to borrow only for a limited time and which I had copied by hand. Work by these authors was scarcely ever available in the East. The title for this series of images is in homage to Reiner Kunze. Published in 1976 only in the West, his 'forbidden' book 'Die wunderbaren Jahre' consists of a series of short stories describing various aspects of everyday life for young people in East Germany, an ironic portrayal of the contradictions inherent in the GDR's totalitarian system.
Archival Giclée prints, 68 X 68 cm on INNOVA White Matte 285gsm paper
Limited Edition of 10