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always happy

July 10, 2007

Seelin 1981 by Sibylle Bergemann

This photograph above (Seelin 1981, by Sybille Bergemann) is part of the sensational exhibition ”Do not Refreeze: Photography Behind the Berlin Wall’ which I visited recently in the Gallery Cornerhouse in Manchester. This touring exhibition (which will be visiting Hartfield, Southend-on-Sea and Wolverhampton during the next winter and spring) brings together 9 artists who developed their practice in the former East Germany during the Cold War.

Bergemann took this picture for GDR’s fashion magazine Sibylle. She asked the models to appear as if they were annoyed by the weather. The photo was published in the magazine but was retouched showing the girls loughing. The editor had said, “Our girls don’t look like that”. The GDR authorities, ”insisted their citizens always had to be depicted happy and smiling” (‘Black & White Photography‘ May 2007, issue 72)

PS: On the other hand, remember: no smiles are accepted if you appply for a passport. Ironically, you need to pose with a neutral expression so new biometric scanners can accurately read your facial features.

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