In the panoramic images of Clearing the Depths, Arwed Messmer looks back at the massive social, economic and political upheavals in East Germany and Berlin after German reunification in 1990, capturing land- and cityscapes in transition shortly before they were transformed. Following a number of projects in which he drew on public collections of functional photography (police, military and urban planning archives), Messmer now examines his own archive, combining as yet unpublished pictures with re-edits of existing work groups to create new arrangements and connections between different series. Many of the problematic aspects of recent German history unfold in these pages, including the heightened return of nationalism. In particular focus is the demolition of much East German post-war architecture, whose erasure was intended to aid forgetting the prior division of the country and the old socialist system. The cleared land became the sites for reconstructing buildings destroyed in the war, not least the imposing East German Palace of the Republic: after being pulled down, enormous graffiti reading “The GDR never existed” stood for weeks on a remaining wall, before it too was removed to make way for the reconstruction of the former imperial Berlin Palace.


320 pages

Hardback / Clothbound
22 x 33.5 cm

English / German

ISBN 978-3-95829-905-4
Publication date 09/2021

€ 75.00 incl. VAT
Free shipping

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