Helga Paris


Helga Paris (German, 1938–2024) studied fashion design in East Berlin starting in 1958. She began taking photographs seriously in 1967, after she had taught herself photography from the early 1960s onwards. Between 1967 and 1968 she chose to work as an assistant in a photo-lab, and started working as a freelance photographer immediately afterwards. She found her subjects in her immediate surroundings and is best known for documenting everyday life in the GDR. Traveling with writer Elke Erb in the 1970s and 1980s through Bulgaria, Romania, and Georgia, Paris took many photographs that extended her subject matter and changed her point of view. Between 1983 and 1985 she documented the social atmosphere and architectural dilapidation in Halle, Saale in a series called Buildings and Faces: Halle. An exhibition of these pictures was prohibited by the SED in 1986, and the publication of the accompanying book could not be realized. It was published only after the Wall came down, in 1991. In the 1990s she traveled extensively, always photographing. Since 1996 she has been a member of the Akademie der Künste (Academy of Arts), Berlin and has been appointed to teach at the Fachhochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (University of Applied Sciences) Berlin. In 2004 she was awarded the prestigious Hannah-Höch-Prize by the State of Berlin. The Berlin Academy of Arts, which holds her archive since 2019, also dedicated a large retrospective to the artist in the same year.