Simon Menner has always been fascinated by pictures that can be decoded in a variety of ways, yielding entirely different results. One picture seems to show us a simple tangible object, and yet the object is changed fundamentally and continuously by what the viewer knows about it and what the viewer expects to see. On a personal level this might not have such a decisive influence. But perception is not limited to the personal level; it also plays a decisive role in surveillance.
Many of these snapshots seem absurd; they may even be amusing. And yet we ought not to lose sight of the intention that led the STASI agents to take them. These photographs document the repressive measures taken by a totalitarian state in order to create terror and fear among the population. For Simon Menner, the banality of some of these images makes the horror he feels all the more poignant. They seem to be open to just about any interpretation, and thus they can be easily exploited as repressive instruments by agents who choose to make use of them.
Athens Photo Festival 2015
Simon Menner (DE)
Images from the Secret Stasi Archives
Duration: 3 June – 31 July, 2015
Venue: Benaki Museum, Pireos St. Annex