Arwed Messmer

Reenactment MfS

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Arwed Messmer
Reenactment MfS

Graphic design by Carsten Eisfeld

German, English

2014. 256 pp., 148 ills.

hardcover, with 32 page booklet

17.40 x 24.70 cm

ISBN 978-3-7757-3911-5

An unusual body of evidence, an artistic perspective on the legacy of East Germany’s secret police

In the archives of East Germany’s Stasi secret police, officially named the Ministry for State Security, there are countless photographs of failed escape attempts at the Berlin Wall. In this visual collage, Arwed Mess­mer (* 1964) presents a selection of these photos and further images of official evidence from the holdings of The Agency of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Archives. The result is an arresting, complex col­lage of found, retouched, and recontextualized visual records and Messmer’s own photographs—a working method described by photo critic Gerry Badger as “an artistic reevaluation of history.” Twenty-five years af­ter the fall of the Wall, Reenactment MfS takes a new look at a major theme in recent German history, with an alternative approach to understanding contempo­rary history and to the use of photography. With what Florian Ebner describes as “documentary empathy,” Arwed Messmer challenges the authenticity of the documentary image, which is never completely free of “enactment.”

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