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The Doppelgänger

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Edited By Deborah Ascher Barnstone

The Doppelgänger – the double, twin, mirror image or alter ego of someone else – is an ancient and universal theme that can be traced at least as far back as Greek and Roman mythology, but is particularly associated with two areas of study: psychology, and German literature and culture since the Romantic movement. Although German language literature has been a nexus for writing on the Doppelgänger, there is a paucity of scholarly work treating a broader selection of cultural products from the German-speaking world. The essays in this volume explore the phenomenon of the double in multiple aspects of German visual culture, from traditional art forms like painting and classical ballet to more contemporary ones like film, photography and material culture, and even puppet theatre. New ways of understanding the Doppelgänger emerge from analyses of various media and time periods, such as the theme of the double in a series of portraits by Egon Schiele, the doubling of silk by rayon in Weimar Germany and its implications for class distinctions in Germany, and the use of the x-ray as a form of double in Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain and Christoph Schlingensief’s performance art.
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April A. Eisman - 2 From Double Burden to Double Vision: The Doppelgänger in Doris Ziegler’s Paintings of Women in East Germany

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APRIL A. EISMAN

2 From Double Burden to Double Vision: The Doppelgänger in Doris Ziegler’s Paintings of Women in East Germany

The concept of the Doppelgänger, or double, has played an important role in the visual arts for more than a century.1 Artists from Egon Schiele and Rene Magritte to Cindy Sherman and Rosa Loy have used it in their work as a means for questioning the world in which they live and the people who inhabit it, including, most importantly, themselves. A double can offer a mirror image that emphasizes the subject, or a foil that opposes it.2 It can be a premonition of something to come, or a memory of something past.3 In the case of women artists, the Doppelgänger often appears as a visualization of the internal split experienced in patriarchal societies between being both an active subject and a passive object of the male gaze.4 It is this gendered use of the Doppelgänger that appears in several paintings created by the East German artist Doris Ziegler (b. 1949) in the 1970s and 1980s.

Doris Ziegler was one of a number of important women artists working in East Germany in the final decades of the Cold War. Known in particular for her cityscapes and images of women, especially of women in the workforce, Ziegler established herself as an important artist by the ← 45 | 46 → late 1970s; in the 1980s, she showed work in a...

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