Dana Mueller was born and raised in Thuringia, East Germany until the fall of the Berlin Wall. She received her MFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art + Design. Mueller published her first monograph MAY DAYS in 2018. She is the recipient of numerous awards, and her work has been extensively exhibited internationally. Mueller currently teaches at Northeastern University College of Arts, Media and Design.
At the Edge of the Village
In recent years I have been photographing at the edges of a German village where the meadows and forest became part of the no-mans-land and former border between East and West Germany. This zone always presented an impenetrable entity and mystery to those who lived close to it. I grew up in the village and have been returning to photograph the inhabitants of this small German community with an interest in the quiet revelation of their lives.
The edge of the village presents the idea of a territory that lies physically outside the community while at the same time not entirely out of reach. We the inhabitants have always felt both unease and pull towards the forest — reiterated when we physically interact with it or when we imaginatively interpret it in our shared narratives or folklore. A kind of unheimliche Heimat [strange homeland] in which historically a political border defined our lives in a territorial, social, and psychological sense.
The photographic portrait of a small group of people can engage our ideas of individuality vs. collective identity, in a land where generations of families have negotiated the shifting political, social and economic events while the one remaining constant was the forest. Taking note of the ways individuals are the sum of their past, the work goes beyond the specific to explore how everyday lives resonate with history and even myth.
To view more of Dana Mueller’s work please visit her website.