DEUTSCHLAND ÜBERGESTERN
Radikale Veränderungen am Arbeitsplatz nach der Wende
Ein fotografisches Projekt von Dario J Laganà

Historical Milestones
1989 - 2019 - 30th Anniversary of Mauerfall
1990 - 2020 - 30th Anniversary of German Reunification 

ARTIST'S STATEMENT
Find a job, lose a job, stop working, change jobs, be dissatisfied with your job, be happy with your job, be afraid of losing your job. They are all variations that unite us, regardless of the country in which we live and what our history is. The choice to build a project based on work is not accidental, but it is the will to try to give a simple reading key on a very complex story, which would require a very thorough knowledge of History, not only of the German one.

But I wanted to build it closer to the stories of people than to the history of the countries.
Some time ago, in a discussion on the homeless, someone asked me how can we  interact, how can we start to address social problems and how can we integrate people. Obviously my answer can only apply to me because ultimately it is not my role in society to give answers for others.
What I said then and which I still believe to be my most sincere answer, is that we need to start confronting one by one, talking to people in a human way by interacting in the only possible sphere, the personal one, guided by curiosity, the will to interact and in the certainty or at least awareness, that we will not change things, but probably these interactions will change us.

In this spirit I organized this project, I could simply ask people to have their pictures taken without the need to confront me or ask questions or interact. Instead I decided to have portraits of people as we speak, not of laid portraits (with the risk that the distance between people grow).
This project was born and developed for my selfish curiosity, the questions I asked started from a questionnaire written by the historian Gianluca Falanga, I added mine, sometimes ungrammatical, sometimes perhaps banal but always vigilant in the idea of wanting to understand a little more, without judgment, without an ideological background, as an Ausländer.

There are stories of revenge, of failure, of betting, and also a starting point for possible other stories. I would like to give others the opportunity to investigate the same possibility that I gave to myself, where the extraordinary nature of these stories lies in the fact that they are stories of people who have had to adapt to a change, sometimes wanted by them, sometimes suffered, as an inevitable consequence of the Great History on their lives.
At the beginning of the project I was convinced that this break in society was a clean break, which took place very quickly and that people had jumped into another life quickly. Instead, the reality I encountered was one of disorientation, of a continuous adaptation for several years, of a decomposed fracture, in which the pieces are difficult to reassemble in a short time.

I was also convinced that this project was very far from my research, it was a photography and history project. Instead it turned out to be a project again in the wake of DEAF (taub - sordo) (2012) and Chunks of Soul (2016), on Emotional Entropy, in a completely different context, but unexpectedly close. The idea that, in a system at rest, a very strong event occurs to which we react, revealing an eruptive energy that develops up to bring the system back to quiet. I am interested in that fraction of time between action and reaction in which we are not able to control ourselves, our body, where we ourselves are surprised by our actions. In this case the fraction of time was, for many people, a good part of the 1990s. I discovered how, for some years I have researched the speed of action, in reality it can occur in a rarefied, continuous way, a prolonged adaptation where it is difficult to predict when and where the new state of rest will take shape.

But I have always considered this project also a possibility that we have to give ourselves, to understand the tragedies and expectations of those who, at a certain point, sees everything change under their eyes, where the certainties that were there until yesterday, fade away so quickly as to leave us terrified. How to build a dialogue, talk about it, is fundamental to continue to understand the stories of others, of those who lose their jobs, lose their homes and those who come here with the hope of a better future or with a hope. We are a privileged society and from this privilege we should decide how to manage what we have, we are lucky to have more, we must be able to watch, listen and to share it.

ON COLLECTIVE MEMORY, A DIARY INTRODUCTION
We usually imagine the collective memory, the one which is the base of our cultural identity, as something solid and assumed, coming from the past and taken for granted.
Brian Ladd, in his book “Ghosts of Berlin”, recalls Nietzsche: society needs to selectively forget some historical events in order to move forward.
This is as true as it is dangerous (we should ask who chooses what will be forgotten and why); deleting a chunk of history and filling the city with monuments is not enough. These can become monoliths without weight if there isn’t a corresponding effort to raise awareness and there’s no attempt to deepen collective understanding. For these reasons, memory is something that needs to be helped and invigorated day by day, that needs an active effort to carry out; it is not enough to have a more active and conscious citizenry (the rebirth of neonazi activities across Europe are a clear sign of the truth of this).
We usually say that it’s important to remember in order to avoid a repeat of tragic events in the future, unfortunately it’s not enough to create the conditions for history to not repeat itself. Those that need to remember are not typically the protagonists of those stories, instead, mostly they are bystanders or the cultural result of that period (like modern Berliners). Hence, we need to build from scratch the history of the places and of the events of which is important to treasure and with which it’s important to create an empathic link, something that goes beyond simply the need to remember. It’s hard to balance this need with the potential of development, in an expanding and continuously changing country, disfigured for so long by the Baustelle (until these became an integral part of the urban landscape and an everyday element themselves). Even we, who have chosen to live here as new citizens of Germany, have an obligation to know, because we are the new part of the collective memory of this city.
This is my diary, started in 2010, the collection of my personal memories of my relationship with Germany and its history related with the Die Wende.

(extracted and adapted from the article “On Collective Memory” written in 2014)
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