Radical changes in the workplace after the turn
A photographic project by Dario J Laganà
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 

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 declinations of the same language that unite us, regardless of the country in which we live and our history. The choice to build a project based on work is not accidental, but it is the will to try to give a simple reading on a very complex story, which would require a very thorough knowledge of history, and not only of Germany’s history.
Instead of building a history of places, I want to build a history of people.
Some time ago, in a discussion on homelessness, 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 to answer for other people. 
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 personal sphere, the only possible sphere, and by being guided by curiosity, by having the will to interact and with the awareness, that we will not change things, but probably these interactions will change us so we can start to understand.
In this spirit I organized this project. I could have simply asked people to have their pictures taken without the need to confront me or ask questions or interact. I decided to have portraits of people as we spoke, instead of using posed portraits (where there is a risk that the distance between people grows).
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 my questions, sometimes ungrammatical, sometimes perhaps banal, but always vigilant to 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 gambling, and also a starting point to explore 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 hoped for, and sometimes suffered, as an inevitable consequence of the great history during which they live 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 slipped into another life quickly. Instead, the reality I encountered was one of disorientation, of a continuous adaptation over a period of several years, of a multiple 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 on Emotional Entropy, more related with photography and history. Instead it turned out to be a project in the wake of DEAF (taub - sordo) (2012) and Chunks of Soul (2016), in a completely different context, but unexpectedly close. The idea that, in a system at rest, a very significant event occurs to which we react, revealing a disruptive energy that drives us to bring the system back. 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, for most of the 90s. I discovered how, for some years I have researched the speed of action, but in reality this disequilibrium 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.
The reality is that we cannot change the stories of these people, let alone speculate on what could have been done differently, but we can certainly use this experience as a basis for better integration in the future.
This documentation project does not refer solely to the history of German Reunification, I have always considered it as a possibility that we must empathize with the dramas and expectations of those who, at a certain point, see everything change in front of the eyes, where the certainties that once existed disappear so quickly as to leave us terrified; or with the stories of those who, in change, see starting a new life as the only option, away from the tension accumulated in years of suffering and repression.
We have to use these stories as a possible reference when we are faced with stories of new migrants, of compromised situations. We are a privileged society and from this privilege we must, as a community, work to integrate these experiences into our Collective Memory.
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 the Berliners in their 30’s). Hence, we need to build from scratch the history of the places and of the events which are 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 logbuch, 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)

#exhibition #ausstellung #photography #mauerfall30 #berlinmauer #wanderausstellung #documentation #history #germany #documentary #documentaryphotography #documentaryphotographer #documentaryphoto #documentaryseries #photojournalism #photojournalist #journalism #journalist #journalists #photojournalists #berlinwall #berlin #germany #portrait #berlinstagram #eastsidegallery #berliner #history #deutschland #berlincity #coldwar #berlinermauer #berlinart #berlinberlin #berlingram #eastgermany #ddr #berlinwallart #gdr #work #job #coldwarhistory
Back to Top