Nature morte. 1983–1985
This series of still-life photographs by Manfred Paul was produced while the GDR still existed. As photographs, they go beyond the general symbols of still life; they are time doubly frozen: just as fish, leaves, and branches become frozen at the bottom of a lake, petrified in clear ice before the first snowfall, so the still life — a life without time — remains suspended, for as long as the picture’s materiality can withstand the ravages of time. Things are abandoned, with apparent carelessness — a bunch of tulips in a glass vase wilts in infinite beauty, their black-and-white sharpness emitting an almost painful appeal against the transience and replaceability of the blooms. In their irredeemable alienation they inevitably become a devotional mental image of human existence.