In exhibition with other great works under the title “Counterparts”
At Technische Sammlungen, Dresden
Until June 12, 2022
“Gropiusstadt, that’s high-rise buildings for 45,000 people, with lawns and shopping centers in between. From afar, everything looked new and very well-kept. But when you were between the high-rises, it stank of piss and poop everywhere. That came from the many dogs and the many children who lived in Gropiusstadt.
It stank the most in the stairwells. Designed by architect and Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius with the aim of combining the “manifold elements of conventional city life”. Gropius’ buildings were to stand out and radiate from within: modern, geometric, bright. 60 years ago, Gropius laid the foundation stone for the large housing estate project “Gropiusstadt” together with Willy Brandt.
I myself grew up on the other side of the Wall in the 1980s, not 500 meters from it as the crow flies. During my first trips to the “golden west”, we were warned as children about the place that was synonymous with drugs and violence.
Gropiusstadt is still fighting against this bad reputation. My work “Trabanten“ is the attempt to approach the myth of Gropiusstadt, a portrait along the photographic border between documentary realism and subjective poetry. What does reality look like beyond the promise of more “light, air and sun”? In what way does it become visible, the ambivalent attitude to life of this architectural utopia on the edge of the city, once proudly cast in concrete and now thought to have failed.
Since the 50th anniversary of Gropiusstadt, I have been portraying its residents. To get a little closer to them in the brief moment of chance. I hope that something is revealed in the pictures I take of the people and the place. A glimmer of all the contradictions between light, air and concrete. In the satellite town on the outskirts of Berlin, where the hopes of modern life border on the sewage fields of Brandenburg.
All images and text © Daniel Seiffert
By Daniel Seiffert
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