Photography and Germany

Andrés Mario Zervigón

Photography and Germany

Andrés Mario Zervigón

Distributed for Reaktion Books

224 pages | 55 color plates, 60 halftones | 7 1/2 x 8 2/3 | © 2017
Paper $29.95 ISBN: 9781780237480 Published June 2017 For sale in North and South America only
The idea of photography in Germany evokes everything from the pioneering modernist pictures of the Weimar era to the colossal digital prints that define art photography today. But it also recalls horrifying documents of wartime atrocities and the relentless surveillance of East German citizens. Photography and Germany broadens these perceptions by examining the medium’s multi-faceted relationship with Germany’s turbulent cultural, political, and social history while rethinking the notion of German photography with fresh insights on its historical context.
           
Andrés Mario Zervigón covers this history from the region’s pre-photographic experiments with light-sensitive chemicals to today’s tension between analog and digital technologies. Rather than simply providing a survey of German photography, however, he focuses on how the medium, as a product of the modern age, has intervened in a fraught project of national imagining, often to productive ends but sometimes to catastrophic results. Richly illustrated with numerous previously unpublished images, Photography and Germany is the first single-authored history of photography in Germany ever published, one that deepens our broader understanding of how photography cultivates notions of a nation and its inhabitants.
 
Review Quotes
Choice
“Zervigón has written the first English-language survey of the history of photographic practice in Germany from the medium’s beginnings to the present day. . . . The book's core strength resides in the author’s focus on the uses made of photography during the many periods of social and political turmoil that mark Germany’s history. In no other nation have political events so directly impacted the history of the medium as in Germany, and—in consequence of the destruction and diaspora of modernist artists by the Nazis in the 1930s—those events have in turn impacted the history of the medium throughout the Western world. The writing is informed, insightful, and lucid, and the author presents photographs in the venues of high art, commerce, journalism, propaganda, and even personal albums. The book’s design is clean and provides a good platform for the 122 well-reproduced photographic illustrations. This is a valuable addition to the literature on photography. . . . Highly recommended.”
Source Magazine
“The Exposures series is carefully commissioned to achieve the surprisingly rare balance of offering an easily readable ‘textbook’ style approach to the medium’s multiple and complex histories and discourses, whilst simultaneously producing a specialist scholarly resource. . . . [Zervigón] brings an astute awareness of the political mobility of the photographic image to this nuanced, thorough account of photography in Germany. . . . His book undoubtedly succeeds in offering an insightful, commendably readable, and thoughtfully framed contribution.”
Burlington Magazine
“Zervigón set himself the ambitious goal of chronicling the different histories of photography associated with Germany over the past 175 years. Concisely written, well-structured, and with a clear concept, [Photography and Germany] navigates this ‘sea of emulsion’ in six chronologically ordered chapters, each introduced with a representative case study that leads on to a critical question. . . . Zervigón convincingly argues that photography has been used to ‘perform the cultural work of national self-imagining’ and is still part of contemporary reflections on the country’s troubled political and cultural history. . . . A vividly written introductory tour de force through Germany’s cultural, social, and political history as reflected in photography’s many faces throughout the last 175 years.”
Anton Holzer, editor of "Fotogeschichte"
“The book at hand is an excellent introduction to German photography: carefully researched and well written. It is also superbly designed, printed, and illustrated (with many broad sections in color). Even the price . . . is sensational. Photography and Germany belongs in every good photography library. . . . The author questions some of the apparent certainties of German photo history, challenging assumptions big and small.”
Geoffrey Batchen, author of "Burning with Desire: Conception of Photography"
“Delicately navigating the complex history of Germany, a nation state invented in the same century as photography, Andrés Mario Zervigón shows how photographic images have both buttressed and fissured that state ever since. Addressing vernacular and artistic photographs with equal aplomb, Zervigón offers a welcome overview of German photography that will be essential reading for anyone interested in this topic.”
 
Andreas Huyssen, Columbia University, and author of "Miniature Metropolis: Literature in an Age of Photography and Film"
“Photography can be an agent of memory and history, giving shape to conflictual understandings of national identity. Photography AND Germany persuasively juxtaposes the fractured history of modern Germany and the multi-layered evolution of German photography in politics and the arts, the public and the private sphere. An eminently readable book and a model analysis of the rise and the effects of a visual medium once it had begun to saturate everyday life.”
Steffen Siegel, Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen
“Through a powerful interpretation of outstanding examples, Andrés Mario Zervigón provides an exciting narrative of Germany’s troubled encounter with modernity. A brilliantly written survey which is both an indispensable introduction into the history of German photography and a significant contribution to our understanding of the manifold relationship between the medium and the German society.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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