Relics of the Cold War Exhibition in Berlin
Impressive documentary photographs of remnants of the Cold War
The Cold War is over, yet its traces are still visible. For forty long years, the Iron Curtain divided Europe into East and West; atomic-bomb shelters were built, weapons stockpiled, emergency drills carried out. Dutch documentary photographer Martin Roemers (*1962) decided to track down the remains of this period. For over ten years he repeatedly traveled through formerly hostile countries on both sides of the line: through eastern and western Germany, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine, and other former East Bloc nations. He descended into underground tunnels; photographed abandoned control centers, old barracks, wrecked tanks, and ruined statues. In his images the era of enmity, the politics of deterrence, and the arms race appear ongoing and vivid, serving as a reminder for a future of peace.
Martin Roemers. Relics of the Cold War
Willy-Brandt-Haus, Berlin November 11, 2009 – January 15, 2010
Opening November 10, 2009 at 7:30 pm
From the text Same defenses, same fears by Martin Roemers:
Summer 1983. I’m on holiday with a friend in Germany. We’re walking through a wood in an easterly direction. It must be there. Through the trees we see something grayish. We can’t go any further. There’s a concrete wall in front of us. There’s nothing else to see. Except for the singing birds it is quiet. We walk along the wall until we reach a watchtower. A soldier is sitting inside and he looks at us. I take a picture of the lonely man in the tower. He takes a picture of us.
Fall 1989. The wall has fallen. I’m a photography student at the art academy. I drive through East Germany in my old car. On the way I pass countless Russian barracks. It looks like a completely different world from the outside. I wonder what they look like inside. I walk to the front gate and ask for permission to take a few pictures. “Njet,” they say.
Spring 2009. I’ve taken the last picture for this project in Moscow. The question I asked myself during this series was: “What are the consequences of this war that was never waged on the landscape?” I’ve looked for these places for eleven years between all my other work. Initially I focussed on the Soviet legacy in the old GDR, but gradually the project became bigger. Although the Cold War affected more continents, I’ve limited myself to East and West Europe. I’ve been surprised by the enormous quantities of shelters, bunkers, airfields, shooting ranges, barracks, missile bases, border barricades, and radar stations. They look identical on both sides of the Iron Curtain: the same defense mechanisms built out of the same fears.
All images taken from the book:
Relics of the Cold War
Edited by Nadine Barth, texts by Nadine Barth, H.J.A. Hofland, Martin Roemers
Published by Hatje Cantz