Occupation: Structures of the Berlin Brigade
(Freie Universität Berlin)
Paper short abstract:
This project is a visual anthropology of the physical structures used by former occupational military in Berlin. Their re-use and the individuals connected to them are organized and represented photographically to examine the relationship between individuals and negotiable heritage sites.
Paper long abstract:
A politically and culturally conscious approach to urban preservation must consider public memory and understand space as a cultural product. The structures built and or used by the US occupational forces in former West Berlin share a unique historical context and geographic proximity, lending themselves to place-making research. As the 20th anniversary of the occupational withdrawal is commemorated in 2014, a comprehensive and visual anthropology of these sites as dynamic cultural loci is culturally, historically, and fiscally relevant. While these sites exist along the continuum of speculation to construction, inhabitation, decay, and demolition, their status as cultural heritage is anything but agreed upon. This project unpacks these sites by visually gathering the historic and contemporary users (individuals) and uses (activities), to address the fundamental question of how individuals relate to heritage sites. Contextualizing the experiences, ideals and power within this sequence across evolving eras, circumstance and purpose expand our perception of what these buildings have meant and continue to mean. Photography's algebraic potential to semantically decode and reduce the dissimilar into like terms, is a strategically selected filter for representing the diversity of relations between individuals and the sites. Combining researcher-produced photographs with found photographs from site users as well as maps and other representations of space reveal a latent network of relation with implications for like structures across Europe. The visual re-contextualization of historic and contemporary place-making processes at these sites evoke Nora's description of Milieu de Memoire; the communal memorial, in flux, existing in present memory and perception.
Critical Heritage and Photography