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Photographer Thorsten Klapsch’s 25 year love affair

  • Freizeit und Erholungszentrum FEZ (Leisure and Recreation Centre), formerly: Pioneer Palace, Volkspark Wulheide, former East Berlin, built 1979. (All images © Thorsten Klapsch) 1 / 21  Freizeit und Erholungszentrum FEZ (Leisure and Recreation Centre), formerly: Pioneer Palace, Volkspark Wulheide, former East Berlin, built 1979. (All images © Thorsten Klapsch)
  • Berlin Wall Memorial, Bernauer Strasse, Berlin-Mitte, photographed 2014. 2 / 21  Berlin Wall Memorial, Bernauer Strasse, Berlin-Mitte, photographed 2014.
  • Double block of flats on Marchwitzastrasse, former East Berlin, built 1976-1987, demolished 2002. 3 / 21  Double block of flats on Marchwitzastrasse, former East Berlin, built 1976-1987, demolished 2002.
  • Apartment interiors, Marchwitzastrasse 1-3, former East Berlin, built 1976-1987, demolished 2002. 4 / 21  Apartment interiors, Marchwitzastrasse 1-3, former East Berlin, built 1976-1987, demolished 2002.
  • Panorama with TV Tower, Berlin, shot during the Football World Cup hosted in Germany in 2006 5 / 21  Panorama with TV Tower, Berlin, shot during the Football World Cup hosted in Germany in 2006
  • The eternally unfinished Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport “Willy Brandt”, shot 2013, originally due to open 2011... 6 / 21  The eternally unfinished Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport “Willy Brandt”, shot 2013, originally due to open 2011...
  • Berlin-Tegel Airport, architects Gerkan, Marg and Partners, 1966, due for closure when and if the new International Airport ever opens... 7 / 21  Berlin-Tegel Airport, architects Gerkan, Marg and Partners, 1966, due for closure when and if the new International Airport ever opens...
  • The former border crossing Drewitz, “Checkpoint Bravo”, completed 1972, demolished 1993. 8 / 21  The former border crossing Drewitz, “Checkpoint Bravo”, completed 1972, demolished 1993.
  • The Chamber Music Hall of Hans Scharoun’s famous Philharmonic, completed 1979 to a design completed by Edgar Wiesnewski after Scharoun’s death in 1971. 9 / 21  The Chamber Music Hall of Hans Scharoun’s famous Philharmonic, completed 1979 to a design completed by Edgar Wiesnewski after Scharoun’s death in 1971.
  • The Stalinist architecture of Karl-Marx-Allee, former East Berlin, built as part of the National Reconstruction Programme of 1951. 10 / 21  The Stalinist architecture of Karl-Marx-Allee, former East Berlin, built as part of the National Reconstruction Programme of 1951.
  • Berlin-Mitte in 1992. 11 / 21  Berlin-Mitte in 1992.
  • The 19th century architecture of the Museums Island, Mitte, shot in 1992 before extensive ongoing renovations to what is now a UNESCO world cultural heritage site. 12 / 21  The 19th century architecture of the Museums Island, Mitte, shot in 1992 before extensive ongoing renovations to what is now a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.
  • The war-damaged and derelict New Museum in Mitte shot in 1992, long before renovation by David Chipperfield Architects and reopening in 2009. 13 / 21  The war-damaged and derelict New Museum in Mitte shot in 1992, long before renovation by David Chipperfield Architects and reopening in 2009.
  • The Palast der Republik of the former East Berlin, built 1973-76, demolished 2006-8, photographed 1993. 14 / 21  The Palast der Republik of the former East Berlin, built 1973-76, demolished 2006-8, photographed 1993.
  • Inside the Palast der Republik, photographed in 1993, which was demolished in 2006-8. 15 / 21  Inside the Palast der Republik, photographed in 1993, which was demolished in 2006-8.
  • The former showcase sports complex of the GDR, the SEZ in Volkspark Friedrichshain, opened 1981, closed 2001, now due for demolition. 16 / 21  The former showcase sports complex of the GDR, the SEZ in Volkspark Friedrichshain, opened 1981, closed 2001, now due for demolition.
  • The swimming pool inside the SEZ in Volkspark Friedrichshain, before it closed 2001, and now due for demolition. 17 / 21  The swimming pool inside the SEZ in Volkspark Friedrichshain, before it closed 2001, and now due for demolition.
  • The former GDR State Council Building in Berlin-Mitte is now the private European School of Management and Technology. 18 / 21  The former GDR State Council Building in Berlin-Mitte is now the private European School of Management and Technology.
  • Tierpark Friedrichsfelde, the former GDR Zoo, built 1954-55 on the site of the former Friedrichsfelde Palace gardens designed by Lenné in 1821. Photographed by Klapsch in 2014. 19 / 21  Tierpark Friedrichsfelde, the former GDR Zoo, built 1954-55 on the site of the former Friedrichsfelde Palace gardens designed by Lenné in 1821. Photographed by Klapsch in 2014.
  • Thorsten Klapsch’s cover photo for his book “Berlin Berlin”, shot in 1992, showing the famous “Pink Panzer” tank on derelict land in front of the Reichstag. 20 / 21  Thorsten Klapsch’s cover photo for his book “Berlin Berlin”, shot in 1992, showing the famous “Pink Panzer” tank on derelict land in front of the Reichstag.
  • The photographer Thorsten Klapsch on location in Benidorm. 21 / 21  The photographer Thorsten Klapsch on location in Benidorm.

On the occasion of the publishing of his new book Berlin Berlin uncube interviewed photographer Thorsten Klapsch about a career spent documenting a city during a unique period of change.

You have been photographing Berlin now for some 25 years – what kicked off your fascination with the city?

I come from Frankfurt originally, but visited Berlin regularly when I was a child because my grandmother lived in West Berlin. In this respect the city has always been home for me in a way. After the fall of the Wall in 1989, and then moving to Berlin in the summer of 1990 to study photography, it became clear to me that the division of Berlin would become a central theme in my work.

You recently published your latest book entitled Berlin Berlin – Thorsten Klapsch, what made you decide that now was the right moment?

The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall – and with it the 25th anniversary of my photographic observations of Berlin – seemed to me like a good time to step back for a moment and take stock of Berlin’s development and the non-stop acceleration of change.

What kind of spaces and buildings interest you in particular in this city?

It is the buildings, spaces and places that are in danger of disappearing, or those which have a particular story to tell.

What in your view defines the essence of a city such as Berlin architecturally?

The division of Berlin has left strong marks on the cityscape, which means, for example, that the socialist thinking behind Alexanderplatz and its vicinity is still clearly visible. The post-war drive towards new and modern types of housing has also left formative buildings in both former East and West: such as the Stalinist buildings in Karl-Marx-Allee and those in the Hansaviertel in the Tiergarten.

Change means loss as well as gain – what buildings or spaces do you mourn most that have fallen victim to the development of Berlin since the fall of the Wall, and which would you consider to be some of the most successful and welcome additions to the cityscape?

The demolition of the Palast der Republik [the former GDR Palace of the Republic] and the resulting space that opened up right in the heart of Berlin could have been a real chance for an architectural signal representing “new Berlin”. The rebuilding of the old Prussian City Palace in its place is in my view a big step backwards. There are a few successful architectural infills of empty lots in the city, but I still have as yet to see any new buildings that seem to stylistically define the post-reunification period.

– Interview by Sophie Lovell

Thorsten Klapsch lives and works in Berlin. He has published three volumes of his own work: Palast der Republic, Panorama Editions, 2011, Atomkraft, Edition Panorama, 2012 and Berlin Berlin - Thorsten Klapsch, Edition Panorama, 2014.

thorstenklapsch.de

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