Utopias Gone Awry: Photographing Architecture In Decay

Presentation & Talk

Derelict urban structures and buildings attract many photographers. Their visual essays become particularly striking, when their architectural subjects attest to historical changes in society, bearing witness to utopias gone awry and collective memory eroding with their decay. In Germany, photographer Margret Hoppe dedicated many years to photographing buildings in the former German Democratic Republic, compiling an Archive of Abandoned Buildings. In another obsessive archival project, Polish photographer Michał Szlaga documented the vanishing of the Gdańsk Shipyard, once the cradle of the Solidarność labor union and a significant site for the commemoration of the rise of the Eastern European democratic movement.

At the ZK/U, located in a former railway depot, works from both artists will be presented. Jacek Dominiczak, an architect and theorist working in the borderland of art and architecture, as well as editor of the album Rethinking The City. Perspectives from Gdańsk with photographs by Michał Szlaga, will join the artists to discuss how photography rethinks urban space, architecture and their social and political implications. What dynamics arise between architecture in decay as traces of past utopias and contemporary urban developments? How do the aesthetical and narrative strategies of photographing such structures inform the debate around issues related to architecture, politics and collective memory?

On the occasion of the exhibition Stocznia/Shipyard with photographs by Michał Szlaga (Polish Institute Berlin).

The talk will be held in English.