Double Bound Economies

Between 1967 and 1990, freelance photographer Reinhard Mende was commissioned by various GDR combines to document factories and the presentation of their manufactured products at the International Trade Fair in Leipzig. He portrayed women at their workbenches, he took shots of lamps, vacuum cleaners and kitchen appliances. The approx. 250,000 pictures in his archive – both in black and white and colour – offer a rare look at the factories and the people who produced all these commodities. Although the perspective was directed by official ideals, Mende followed his own view. The project ‘Double Bound Economies’ explores how we might approach this unique body of images today: how we can access them, how we can derive historical insights from them, and for what considerations they might represent a starting point. Besides a number of essays the book includes artistic contributions by Armin Linke, Olaf Nicolai and KP Brehmer, among others.

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