3. Laurenz Berges (Germany, b. 1966), Karlshorst V, 1995, c-print, purchase, 2002.13.2.

4. __________, Perleberg, 1992, c-print, 2002.13.1.


Laurenz Berges' work is heavily burdened with cultural overtones inherent in so many of Germany's artists and writers work since the Second World War. Berges' work is riddled with threads of memory spun from a need to document the traces and remnants of a government's political choices and decisions. His work explores in a rather direct and (visually) uninteresting way the effects and aftermaths of government folly. Using a strictly documentary approach, Berges' work seems to deal with hasty departures within a socio-political context. Images of abandoned Red Army barracks taken after the fall of the Iron Curtain seem to indicate the sort of rapid extraction political policies have been known to affect. In the two photographs, Karlshorst V, and Perleberg, we are left with the remnants of the previous inhabitants strewn about; debris and garbage serve as the only evidence of human occupation.

Berges has extended this approach to include more domestic impositions and departures. In 1998 his photographs of an abandoned town slated for destruction by an ever expanding mining operation hint at the notion of domestic policies (in this case driven by economic forces) that cause upheaval and major disruption of the lives of its inhabitants.

Berges' work reflects the idea of cultural burden and its influence on identity. Drawn from a need to reconcile the transgressions of the past generations with those of the present, Berges presents us with a document that operates simultaneously as art object and a catalyst for the recollection of memory. He intends to show us that we are inextricably connected to our culture and society—that the forces that cause geographic shifts in population are the same forces that shape and influence our identity as individuals. By representing the empty room devoid of all but the detritus of prior occupation, Berges intends to draw attention to the way that cultures and governments shape identities and, while we cannot know really anything about the inhabitants of these structures, we can identify with the forces that cause the shifts in population.

---Scott Brown

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