Image credits

Tomonobu Usuda

Parallel Histories of Post-Wall Berlin: Reconstructing memories through visual narratives of nostalgia

My practice-based research PhD project explores the tension between personal histories and collective socio-cultural memories and representations of loss, divide and nostalgia during the post-Wall transition in Berlin, focusing on the works of Dean, Calle and Siegel, as well as other established and emerging visual artists. Through interrogating socio-visual concerns and developing the concept of image progression previously explored during my Master’s studies, I will investigate, decode and develop Berlin’s parallel histories in order to assemble a visual vocabulary based on former East and West German approaches to photography. I will engage with critical debates about the nature of time, durational issues, the divide between East and West Berliners and the socio-cultural shift beginning in 1989. The project will build on my photographic practice and lead to the creation of new still and moving images engaging with German humanist, Becharian and journalistic documentary narratives – articulated by, for example Arno Fischer, Ursula Arnold, Maria Sewcz, Sibylle Bergemann and Thomas Hoepker – concerned with post-unification phenomena.. Responses to the impact of unification will be also be documented through oral history, post-Wall conceptual and photographic visual art, and by engaging in critical debates about Ostalgie (nostalgia over East German cultures and its loss through unification) and Mauer im Kopf (literally translated as ‘wall in the head’, focused around difficulties of social integration).