Partying in the Weimar Republic with the Archive of Modern Conflict
- Billie Muraben
- 11 October 2018
Party! Party!! Party!!! tells the story of the Weimer Republic, through the people who partied and the places they partied in. Published by the Archive of Modern Conflict’s Bone Idle Press, the book features previously unpublished photography from the Post-WW1 period; when a defeated German Empire, and newly formed republic, was facing impossible debt and violent revolution from both left and right.
Of the approach to Party! Party!! Party!!! co-editor Chris Nesbit says: “Ed Jones and I wanted a modern book that wasn’t reliant on 1920s styles and avoided being a period piece. We didn’t want that photo of a wheelbarrow full of worthless money, which is in every history book; we wanted to tell a different story about Weimar Germany.” The precarious nature of day-to-day life gave rise to a frantic desire to live in the moment; to celebrate or to escape reality, and the book chronicles exactly that. Each chapter or interlude gathers pace as the 1920s progress, Chris describing the editing process as beginning with “photographs arranged on the floor, like a giant snake, mostly chronologically”. The increasing speed and delirium of the period is broken up by “the odd calm image, which serves as punctuation” or an “interlude – each of which are on a different theme, breaking the otherwise chronological sequence.”
‘Berlin after dark’, one of the later interludes, is a particular highlight; filled with neon signs, electric shadows and hazy crowds of celebratory spirits. “It’s a 1931 photographic tour of the city’s nightclubs” Chris tells It’s Nice That. “It’s a good example of how liberal Germany was (Berlin in particular), with massive, extravagant nightclubs and a vibrant and thriving gay and lesbian community. The ‘Berlin at Night’ interlude shows shooting galleries, drag queens and swimming pools alongside the dance floor (with bathing beauties drinking champagne); taxi dancers available to hire per dance; and dining rooms with telephones on every table (so you can speak to that alluring somebody…)”
Running in tandem with the photographic melee is a series of texts, which as Chris explains: “subtly add some context about pop culture, politics, and trends that might not be completely obvious”. Party! Party!! Party!!! is an exploration of the very human desire to escape, an exploration of decadence, sexuality and indulgence, which went alongside an innocence of the consequences of fascism or communism. And while the book maintains that sense of delirium in a chaos of photography; the context provided by the aforementioned text keeps the reader on the straight-and-narrow. Ignorance, after all, is bliss.
About the Author
Billie studied illustration at Camberwell College of Art before completing an MA in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art. She joined It’s Nice That as a Freelance Editorial Assistant back in January 2015 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis.