Gundula Schulze Eldowy

The Early Years . Photographs from 1977 to 1990
December 10 2011 until February 26 2012
© David v. Becker
© David v. Becker
© David v. Becker
© David v. Becker
© David v. Becker

“Berlin made me a photographer.” Gundula Schulze Eldowy

Berlin mercilessly swallows its residents. Layer by layer, the city covers them with a blanket of oblivion. Time passes and sweeps everything along with it. With her camera Gundula Schulze Eldowy resists the flow of time. Year after year she wanders, seemingly without intent but with a clear, alert gaze through the Scheunenviertel in Mitte, a district in the centre of Berlin, documenting loneliness, sadness, misery and moments of happiness. Whether artists, workers, refugees or dreamers—she is both fascinated and repelled by the social mix and the harshness of the city. In her ruthless photographs, Berlin resembles a lost city, an archaeological site that is sometimes unexpectedly enchanting. At the same time, these urban forays are nothing more than excursions into the inner, unfamiliar world of the artist. A closer look reveals them to be metaphors of social criticism that not only have the former GDR in mind but also the entire civilization.

The severe images, critical of civilisation, which Gundula Schulze Eldowy took between 1977 and 1990 predominantly in East Berlin and later also in Dresden und Leipzig, push the limits of what can be endured. They show affection yet no shame whatsoever. The photographer has lived right next door to the people she has portraited, has listened to them night after night and has an emphatic insight into their world. Which blows of fate have they suffered? In search of answers she re-experiences their stories and in this way becomes part of them. With her directness and the depth of her understanding that transcends all moral judgement, Gundula Schulze Eldowy probes little by little into the bowels of our civilization. The way in which she enters into a dialogue with different forms of living is also reflected in the deliberate composition of her photographic series. In this way, additional levels of meaning are revealed and new fields of tension created.