Photos by Mila Teshaieva, Heinrich Voelkel, Maurice Weiss and Sebastian Wells
Organized by Institut Pierre Werner
Mila Teshaieva Unfamiliar Memory
Identity is always a confrontation between stories and history, between personal memories and official historiography.Mila Teshaieva descended into the fogshrouded abyss of memory, where national mythol ogy melds with individual expe rience to form an afterimage of a past. The Ukrainian born photographer asked people of different convictions, from different regions of her home country, to reconstruct scenes from their family history.
The family memories became performances; the performances became photographs that write an alternative history of the twentieth century. Above all, though, they ask: How are experiences recalled, dealt with, and finally handed down? How do individual memories trans form into a supposed collective national memory, and, in turn, how does national heroism seep into family histories? And finally, how is the imagined reality we call the past created?
Maurice Weiss Si jamais ils reviennent
“Si jamais ils reviennent” — in case they ever come back — is what a more than ninety-year-old lady in a small village in the south of France told us, when she explained why she still had an arsenal in her wine cellar. “They” are the German Nazis and collaborators against whom she fought as a young woman during the occupation in World War II. In those days she smuggled weapons for the Resistance, and today she still keeps rifles and pistols in her cellar.
The old lady lives in a village not far from the place where Maurice Weiss grew up. In his village — and in his childhood — the war was always present, even though nobody talked about the war: not his father, a soldier in the German army, nor his godfather, who fought in the Spanish Civil War. Still, it was easy to find the traces of the war there, and everywhere in Europe: traces in the landscape, family memories, the scars of loss. These are witnesses to the collective trauma that links all Europeans with each other.
Sebastian Wells La Rada di Augusta
One oil refinery after another is lined up on the Bay of Augusta, a thirty-kilometer-long coastal strip in southeastern Sicily. The petrochemical industry has put its mark on this landscape, its inhabitants, and their lives for a good seventy years.
Sebastian Wells accompanied the people who live here throughout their daily lives. The water, air, and soil are polluted. Rates of cancer and miscarriages are alarmingly high. Instead of twenty thousand jobs, as there were at the peak of the oil processing industry in the 1980s, there are now only seven thousand. Corruption is as omnipresent as the distrust of authority.
The differences between the wealthy north and the poor south of Italy are especially evident in this place. It is a place where the increasingly weathered artifacts of turbocapitalism blend with the ancient ruins of a more than two-thousand-year-old history.
Heinrich Voelkel No Easy Way Out
During the COVID-19 crisis in Germany Heinrich Voelkel has been driving along its closed borders. The state of emergency prevails in signal colors along 1,783 kilometers, with redandwhite tape, construction site barriers, and “no through traffic”-signs marking the end of freedom as we know it.
Voelkel’s pictures discover a country that has curled up into a ball in order to protect itself from a virus. They document how vital arteries have been cut off; how Europeans are no longer allowed to visit each other; how, from one minute to the next, nothing has been the same since. They show us landscapes painfully devoid of people, but whose marks of fear are tangible.
OSTKREUZ is an independent Berlin agency for photography that captures current affairs and so shapes history. Our 23 photographers create free photo series worldwide
and work for renowned media, institutions and brands. Much of what is created in this way later finds its way into publications, museums and collections.