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(De)constructed Happiness

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The Freundeskreis Willy-Brandt-Haus presents an exhibition of largely unknown works by Berlin-based photographer Barbara Köppe. The selected photographs were discovered and have been made accessible by curator Ursula Röper in the course of the past few years.

At the heart of the exhibition – titled "Barbara Köppe – Das (de)konstruierte Glück, Fotografien DDR 1964-1990" – is the extensive and never-published series "Frauen-Schönheit-Schicht. Frauen im VEB Kosmetik-Kombinat" (Women-Beauty-Shift. Women in Publicly Owned Cosmetic Factories). In 1988/89, Barbara Köppe documented the unvarnished everyday reality of women workers in the dilapidated premises of the GDR's publicly-owned factory collective.  

Following her training at the Lette Foundation, Barbara Köppe worked as a freelance photographer and photojournalist in the newly-founded GDR – starting at the Sonntag, the Neue Berliner Illustrierte and FF DABEI, and subsequently working for the GDR Artists' Agency. In the late seventies, she began to distance herself from commissioned work in favour of developing her own independent series, with a main focus on the situation of women in the GDR.

An outstanding portrait photographer, she encountered and photographed many members of the country's cultural scene. A selection of deeply sensitive portraits of artists such as Anna Seghers, Christa Wolf, Erwin Strittmatter, Heiner Müller (a.o.) will be displayed as part of the exhibition.

Barbara Köppe was accepted into the GDR Association of Visual Artists in 1986. She gave up photography in 2007.

The exhibition at the Willy-Brandt-Haus in Berlin represents the first time her life's work is celebrated in a comprehensive solo exhibition, containing approximately 120 black-and-white vintage prints. An accompanying book, released by Nicolai Publishing Berlin, complements the exhibition.

For further details visit Freundeskreis Willy-Brandt-Haus

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