On the 5th of February 2018, the wall formerly separating the two Germanies has been torn down for 28 years, this is the same amount of time it stood, dividing a country that is now re-unified but still struggling to come to terms with a history of separation and fragmentation. In rural areas of the former East, such as my home town Friedrichroda, the shockwaves of the sudden change, from a socialist dictatorship that controlled every aspect of life, to the freedoms of the capitalist free market economy, are emanating at a much slower pace than in the bustling metropolis that is Berlin.
The health resort Friedrichroda is a place in rural Thuringia that has always been highly dependent on tourism. Hundreds and thousands of postcards, depicting the always constant church spire in the centre of the small town, promise consistency yet also reveal the inherent monotony of country life. A former centre of prestigious hotel projects of the German Federal Republic’s national travel agency, the FDGB, the impact of decreasing numbers of holiday makers is apparent in the town’s empty streets and declining infrastructure. The population is shrinking, young people leave the area for lack of perspective and employment opportunities.
Through a combination of archival material and new images this work attempts to visualise the slow change and the lingering echoes of the soviet legacy that still casts its shadow over the eastern regions of Germany as well as ponders my personal connection to a place and a time that have undoubtedly formed me. With a particular sense of unease, the work reflects on the past whilst simultaneously observing a generations’ struggle to define its identity.