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plates according to the—for work on the archive apparently constitutive— «rectangular grid's wholly traditional display system.» 
The first plates (album photos 1962–66, compare «Atlas. Tafel 1») contain photographs of the family, which make reference to the past Richter had just left behind in East Germany. For Richter, this recourse serves as the point of departure for his reflection on the relationship between photography and historical remembrance (in this respect, Buchloh sharply distinguishes Richter's approach of an anomic archive from the melancholic archive in the work by Bernd and Hilla Becher.)  After fleeing from East Germany, the artist found himself in a culture which due to an accelerated and expanded production apparatus for the arousal of artificial needs and thus a mass of primarily commercial photographs, threatened (and even intended) to suppress the traumatic traces of the Second World War and the division of Germany, which Richter had experienced first hand.
Thus the structure of Richter's «Atlas» is plausible. If one, for instance, compares the first plate with the subsequent plates, it becomes apparent that the
gradual infiltration of the pictures of the family with commercial photographs demonstrates the tension between the public identity construction through the media culture and the private identity construction through the family photograph. In the «Atlas,» this «archaeology [in the sense of a de-sedimentation of the archive, J. S.] of pictorial and photographic registers,» each of which «generates its proper psychic register of responses,»  ultimately leads to a forcing open of the «apparently empty barrage of photographic imagery and the universal production of sign exchange-value.»  Panel 18 («Atlas. Panel 18») shows appalling pictures from National Socialist concentration camps: The private photo archive—the family album—is ruptured by that of history.
The photographic archive has been bound up with the interests of transmission from the very beginning. Even Holmes wrote that «there must be arranged a comprehensive system of exchanges, so that there may