Dates2017 - 2020
- Topics Portrait, Social Issues, Archive
A project about the descendants of contract workers in the former GDR.
East Germany, the communist country officially known as the German Democratic Republic, fell in 1989. In the 1963 the GDR signed its first guest worker contract with Poland. The program developed, enticing people from the Eastern Bloc and also from Vietnam, Mozambique and Cuba. Around 190,000 migrant workers studied or worked from 1962 to 1990 in the GDR, the socialist sister state. Under the control of state power, it was ensured that the contracts were implemented and, above all, observed. When their work contract expired after 4 years, they were sent back to their home countries. This separated friendships, relationships and families. For many there is something besides their own work history that connects them today with Germany: their children. Alina Simmelbauer is herself a daughter of a former contract worker who had stayed in the GDR in the early 1980s. However, she first met him only in 2011 in Cuba. Since then she has been searching for people whose family histories resemble hers. In this search she met many children who grew up behind a veil of secrecy; without fathers or knowledge about their remaining.
In the photographic work 'García's daughter', Alina Simmelbauer follows her own search for her father through the process of artistic exploration.
In addition to the images of her search in a foreign country she combines portraits of today's adult children with personal memorabilia and picks up images from company and city archives to illustrate how abstract political decisions of the former GDR have had a lasting impact on the fates of thousands of young people and their families to the present day. In 'García's Daughter' perspectives, emotions and memories overlap to reflect the complexity of modern German identity.