In January 2016 LEGIDA supporters celebrated the first anniversary of their weekly marches. Leipzig almost seemed to have gotten used to the weekly spectacle. Just like in the 1990s, the racist mob, violent neo-Nazis, the bourgeois press and politicians on the right-wing fringe rocked each other up and gradually pushed the limits of what could be said and done. While at the beginning they were only “worried” about the “culture of the Occident”, a little later they started torchlight marches against asylum seekers, whose flames were soon directed specifically against the first refugee shelters. And even when refugees were not presented as a threat in the media, they appeared mostly as objects of reporting, but rarely as authors themselves. Especially in Leipzig, where the public discourse was significantly influenced by the demagogy of LEGIDA, there was a lack of such voices, which simply told about themselves and offered points of contact on a human level.
We therefore invited to the four-week workshop “Sharing Unofficial Pictures”, where people with and without flight experiences learned to use photography as a means to communicate personal experiences, experiences and dreams. Eight participants “researched” a topic of their own choice, explored their own visual language and finally developed a joint exhibition.
Most of the participants already came to the workshop with their own ideas, which they then refined and photographed using creativity methods, feedback from others and the workshop leaders. In short lectures they were introduced to different genres of photography, which they could then acquire – among them such different methods as self-portraits, diary-like photographs or photographs taken during encounters, nature shots that fit a certain mood, the use of already existing family photos or architectural shots of meaningful places. Our focus was not to reproduce the “official” images already available in the media on the subject in question, but to create “unofficial” images that arise from personal perception. Together, the images were then selected, discussed and supplemented with texts and other materials.
The sharing of stories with a personal reference has casually enabled deep encounters. We also cooked together and spent time together in a different way, so that the photography and the project formed a first common level of communication, but through the awakened interest in each other as people, further ones could arise. The common goal of developing an exhibition connected us and made it necessary to develop a self-organisation for the workshop period.
The workshop as well as the final exhibition took place in the project apartment “krudebude”. This is located in the district of Schönefeld, which is particularly affected by demographic change and changes in the social structure – Schönefeld was characterised by vacancies, a high average age of the residents (2013: 53.9), a high unemployment rate (2013: 11.1 per 100 employed persons) and a declining population growth rate in contrast to other districts of Leipzig. Intercultural meeting places were missing.