Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives

ARTBOOK | D.A.P.
Jan 2, 2014 5:24PM
Featured photograph, taken during a seminar in which Stasi personnel were taught how to don different disguises, is reproduced from Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives, chosen by Luc Sante for The New York Times Book Review's Holiday Books roundup. Sante writes, "The gap between image and underlying reality can be queasily farcical, as demonstrated in Simon Menner's Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives. The Stasi ruined innumerable lives, hounded people to their deaths, insinuated pervasive distrust among family members, co-workers, friends—but the photographs could easily persuade you that they were an assortment of bumbling amateurs whose training involved viewing episodes of the '60s TV comedyGet Smart! From demonstrations of disguises and secret hand signs to surveillance pictures of mailboxes to Polaroids taken during house searches documenting Western sympathies based on, say, a wall of magazine shots of Madonna in a teenager's bedroom, it is hard to believe that these pictures were actually produced by one of the world's most feared secret police forces and not by a college humor magazine. Every image is sourced, however, by its index number in the Stasi files. And pieced-together photos—of uniformly impeccable banality—that had been torn up in the last days of the G.D.R. suggest that there may be more here than meets the eye. The book might be a primer on the banality of evil."
ARTBOOK | D.A.P.
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