Our 8th meeting was an open meeting in which we discussed the topic "Totalitarian Aesthetics and Photography" and which therefore presented a continuation to the topic of arts and totalitarian aesthetics. The meeting was prepared by own of the members of the group, Alumah Florsheim, who in her MA-thesis deals with the topic of oppression by photography in the GDR. We first discussed the article of Susan Sontag "Fascinating Fascism" before then looking at some of the material Alumah works with and making out treats and patterns in the photographs the Stasi, the GDR's secret service, used as means of intelligence and surveillance.
While Sontag discusses especially the photography of Leni Riefenstahl and therefore deals mainly with fascism, Alumah's work and the photographs she presented helped us to widen the field of arts as tools of oppression and indoctrination in totalitarian regimes.
We agreed with many of the traits Sontag presents in her texts as being inherent to fascist photography but contested her notion that they can be found exclusively in fascist contexts. Instead we found that what she presented as being fascist photography could appeared in photographic propaganda in other regimes as well and, at times, even in democracies and we thus questioned her idea of an inherently fascist aesthetics.
The meeting took place on the 28.5. at 14.30 at the Koebner Centre for German History.