I Feel Brandenburg: Place and Memory in Germany's First Socialist City / Photography Project
I Feel Brandenburg: Place and Memory in Germany's First Socialist City, examines the effects of the federal urban renewal program Stadtumbau Ost in Eisenhüttenstadt. Founded in 1950 as the GDR's model city, Eisenhüttenstadt has undergone tremendous change since reunification, having lost nearly a third of its peak population and experienced a rapid rise in residents' median age. Moreover, the city is in a moment of physical flux. The first four Wohnkomplexe are under historical protection, while the fifth and sixth are in the process of being demolished; the seventh had already been entirely demolished by the time I began my research.
Working with residents, former residents, municipal officials, and the staff of the Dokumentationszentrum Alltagskultur der DDR (currently located in the second complex's former kindergarten, with its archives in the former gymnasium), I examine the variety of informants' phenomenal experiences in the city, focusing on the way in which residents align their life trajectories with that of the city, as well as individuals' relationship to the material world and the traces of Eisenhüttenstadt's past—photographs, buildings, everyday objects—in which they find personal significance.
Image: demolition of the Mittelganghaus in 1998 - courtesy of Beate Amende