Globalisation promises that all will be wonderful...but people know now it is an unfair process and they are affected by it...even their very existence...
(Marco, student, Cottbus, Lausitz, Eastern Germany, January 2007)
in the programme of ENCONTROS DA IMAGEM 2011
curated by Rui Prata (Director, Museu da Imagem)
Mosteiro de Tibães, Braga, Portugal
September 17th until October 30th 2011
The Lausitz lies in the southeastern part of the Province of Brandenburg in the former East Germany (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) where it meets the Polish border. Of Sorb origin (a Slavic language group), the region has been shaped by the timeline of industrialisation, where along with its capital, Cottbus/Chosebuz was defined as a Model State and energy heartland of the DDR. The Tagebau, part of the largest opencast mining territory in Europe, now owned by a Swedish energy multinational, lies north, east and south of the city. While the braunkohle (lignite) will eventually be completely depleted, it continues to be extended, leading to the destruction of century-old Sorb villages.
Having first visited the Lausitz in late 2003, seeking the impact of global capital in a periphery of Europe, as had been experienced in my native Ireland, I quickly realised that the region was in fact the antithesis of this experience. Prior to the global economic collapse, but as evidenced by the above prophetic words of Marco, I encountered an emptying and the recognition that the same globalising forces which had transformed unrestrained the landscape of my origins, were indeed transforming this landscape through its forces of withdrawal and seepage - a globalised hemorrhaging. As a result, jobs were and continue to go further East while its younger population migrates to the more prosperous West and in 2007, the Lausitz came last in a national survey addressing future prospects.
Informed by ethnographic understandings and incorporating audio digital video, photography, cross-generational testimony and artefactual material, the project has been constructed in the context of a landscape shaped by and inscribed with the utopic ideological aspirations of modernity - industrialisation, socialism and now at great cost, globalisation. In totality, the region invokes Marshall Berman’s 'wounds of modernity' resulting from the 'cycles of destruction' necessary for the functioning of capital. A pivotal emphasis for the project, is the catalyst for the region itself, the Tagebau and critically viewing it as perhaps a metaphor for late capitalism - finite, fragile and ultimately, unsustainable.
AUSSCHNITTE AUS EDEN/EXTRACTS FROM EDEN has been supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and Culture Ireland. Further information available here: encontrosdaimagem.com/en/2011/exhibitions/eden/.
The project will feature with accompanying article in the forthcoming publication, Emerging Landscapes, by the University of Westminster, London, England.
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