By Anne Fuchs (auth.)
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Extra resources for After the Dresden Bombing: Pathways of Memory, 1945 to the Present
In this way, portraits of Germans underlined the message that had already been communicated by the concentration camp photographs and by rubble photography: all these genres were visual illustrations of the total moral ruination of the German nation. Although these photos were taken on the ground, they occupied a position of complete moral superiority that left little room for empathy with a nation that appeared morally too corrupt to reach any insight into its own depravity. 30 The book is an example of rubble or wreckage photography that documented the destruction of the German cities in the immediate postwar years.
Peter’s photo book offers an interesting point of comparison and contrast with a cycle of drawings by the artist Wilhelm Rudolph (born in Chemnitz in 1889), who worked in Dresden from the end of the First World War until his death in 1982. Influenced by Expressionism and later by Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), Rudolph is primarily known for his woodcuts that often depict animals as expressionistic symbols of creaturely existence. However, in the current context it is his cycle of 150 drawings produced in the months after the bombing that is of particular interest.
But it is less likely that, without the help of a caption, they would be able to name Dresden as the city in Peter’s picture. From the perspective of the non-German recipient, the indexical value of the photograph has been erased in favour of a recognition effect that heightens the iconic value of the shot, while simultaneously hollowing out its referential quality. 42 After the Dresden Bombing Although the photograph remains a trace of a reality that, in the words of Roland Barthes, ‘has been’ there, as a globally recycled image it has lost the connection to its historical origins and locale.
After the Dresden Bombing: Pathways of Memory, 1945 to the Present by Anne Fuchs (auth.)