Bückgen

The first picture I took was the one with a circle of empty chairs in the middle of this landscape. I had no idea of the meaning of this setting (where in hell came the chairs from?), yet it remained a central image.

I was standing on the ground of a town called Bückgen in Lower Lusatia. In 1989, the whole city had to make way for open-pit mining and 4,000 inhabitants lost their home. At that time, nobody knew that only a few weeks later the industrial age in Eastern Germany would find its end along with the collapse of the German Democratic Republic. The mine which was responsible for the destruction of Bückgen closed down after a few month of functioning.

Today the surreal presence of the town is unsettling. I hardly met any young people on my way, but as I was wandering I saw some old persons walking through the desert. They were involved in a sort of theatre play based on the memories they kept of their former home. Some of them had been coming here everyday since they retired. This was the place where they had been working, not a very long time ago. Like them, many former Bückgen residents still can’t understand why their life had to change that quickly. Their children leave this region for finding a job and a future elsewhere, in western Germany or abroad. The ones who stay see themselves as losers of the reunification process.
In about twenty years, according to urban planers, Bückgen is to become part of an attractive region, with a completely new landscape made of lakes, aquatic sports and trekking paths. For the winners of an ending epoch, the place has now became a projection screen for visions and new entrepreneurial hopes. But the old inhabitants of Bückgen probably won’t see the conclusion of any plans.

I was amazed how a meaningless wasteland slowly revealed its story. Bückgen became my setting for taking pictures. Like on a stage, every person who was passing its ground unintentionally became an actor of an undefined play. It is here, I thought, in the middle of nothing, where the uncertain future of a reunited Germany presents itself in a playful manner.

 

Rolf Kuhn, executive of International Exhibition of Architecture and Construction IBA “Fürst-Pückler-Land”, overviewing shut down Meuro coal mine while standing on top of the roof of the IBA logistic center in Großräschen, Brandenburg, Germany, April 2006.

 

 

man walking through deserted landscape on the ground of former town of Bückgen, which had to make way for Meuro coal mine. Großräschen, Brandenburg, Germany, April 2006.

 

former inhabitants of Bückgen, resting on the ground of their hometown which had to make way for Meuro coal mine. Großräschen, Brandenburg, Germany, April 2006.

 

employee of the International Exhibition of Architecture and Construction IBA “Fürst-Pückler-Land” at IBA logistic center in Großräschen, Brandenburg, Germany, April 2006.

 

child playing on ground of Bückgen, which had to make way for Meuro coal mine. Großräschen, Brandenburg, Germany, April 2006.

 

closed down Meuro coal mine, ground of yet to build lake Ilse-See. Großräschen, Brandenburg, Germany, April 2006.

 

Dr. Lehnigk, former inhabitant of Bückgen, walking on the ground of his hometown which had to make way for Meuro coal mine. Großräschen, Brandenburg, Germany, April 2006.

 

bus driver waiting fot tourists at closed down Meuro coal mine. Großräschen, Brandenburg, Germany, April 2006.

 

tourist at IBA logistic center in Großräschen, Brandenburg, Germany, April 2006.

 

Hildegard Beese, former inhabitant of Bückgen in her garden in Großräschen, Brandenburg, Germany, April 2006.

 

former overburden conveyor bridge F60, todays visitor  attraction in Lichterfeld, Brandenburg, Germany, April 2006.

 

children playing in the neighbourhood of council estate of Neu-Bückgen. Großräschen, Brandenburg, Germany, April 2006.

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