Workshop discussion for the IUG Fellowship

At the workshop discussion for the IUG Fellowship 2024, Daniel Wolter presented his project entitled “Of Stink Bugs and Bark Beetles: The Environmental Movement in the GDR” in Berlin and shared some of his initial findings from the photographic archive of the Robert Havemann Society. Drawing on his own media-ecological perspective, Wolter correlates different categories of photographic representation and marks the juncture at which the environment is inscribed in the photographic image and, at the same time, the photographic process itself influences the environment. A striking example of this is the Bitterfeld-Wolfen film factory, whose chemical emissions from production were discharged into the waters surrounding the site, streaking its rivers and lakes with silver slag, which was subsequently documented by photographers with film produced there. Our scholarship holder and a group of invited guests discussed contemporary perception then and now, photography which occupies a space between dystopian-romantic perceptions of the natural world and works of environmental monitoring, all the way to a second-order observations on the archive as an epistemological field of possibility. The guests included Markus Draper (artist, Berlin), Knut Ebeling (Professor of Media Theory and Aesthetics, Weißensee Kunsthochschule, Berlin), Rebecca Hernandez Garcia (Archive Manager, Robert Havemann Society) and Christoph Ochs (Image Archivist, Robert Havemann Society).