The Lausitz lies in the southeastern part of the Province of Brandenburg in the former East Germany (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) where it meets the Polish border. Of Sorb origin (a Slavic language group), the region has been shaped by the timeline of industrialisation, where along with its capital, Cottbus/Chosebuz was defined as a Model State of the DDR. As part of the largest opencast mining territory in Europe, the Tagebau lies north, east and south of the city and continues to be extended, leading to epic scale destruction of the surrounding landscape and century-old Sorb villages while the braunkohle (lignite) will be completely depleted by 2030.
‘God made the Lausitz and the Devil hid the coal beneath’
‘Der Herrgott hat die Lausitz erschaffen und der Teufel hat die Kohle darunter versteckt’ (Sorb saying)
Having first visited the region in late 2003 in search of the impact of global capital in a periphery of Europe, as had been experienced in my native Ireland, I quickly realised that it was in fact the antithesis of this experience, encountering an emptying and the recognition that the same globalising forces which had transformed unrestrained the landscape of my origins, were indeed transforming this landscape through its forces of withdrawal and seepage – a slow hemorrhaging – jobs going further East and its younger population migrating to the more prosperous West. In 2007, the region came last in a national survey addressing future prospects. Incorporating audio digital video, photography, cross- generational testimony and artefactual material, this project has been constructed in the context of a landscape shaped by and inscribed with the utopic ideological aspirations of modernity – Industrialisation, Socialism and now at great cost, Globalisation. Pivotal to the project is the catalyst for the region, the Tagebau and critically seeing it as perhaps a metaphor for globalisation itself – finite, fragile and ultimately, unsustainable.
ausschnitte aus EDEN/extracts from EDEN has been supported by the Arts Council of Ireland.
1 ‘untitled’ (empty housing projects in process of being dismantled), Neu Schmellwitz, Cottbus, Lausitz, Eastern Germany, August 2007
2 ‘untitled’, section (map), Cottbus, Lausitz, Eastern Germany
3 Angelika, Tagebauarbeiterin, Tagebau Jänschwalde, Lausitz, Eastern Germany, July 2008 (digital video still)
4 Katja, Studentin, Cottbus, Lausitz, Eastern Germany, May 2007 (digital video still)
5 Katja, Studentin, Cottbus, Lausitz, Eastern Germany, May 2007 (digital video still)
6 Simon, Student, Cottbus, Lausitz, Eastern Germany, August 2008 (digital video still)
7 ‘former site of the village of Horno’ (full contact sheet), Tagebau Cottbus Nord, Lausitz, Eastern Germany, August 2006
8 ‘disused workstation’, Steilmann Textile Factory (one week before closure), Cottbus, Lausitz, Eastern Germany, April 2006
Mark Curran (b. 1964) is an artist and educator who lives and works in Berlin and Dublin. Presently completing a practice-led PhD through the Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice, DIT, Dublin, he lectures on the BA (Hons) Photography programme at IADT, Dublin and is Visiting Faculty on the MA in Visual and Media Anthropology at the Freie Universität Berlin. Incorporating multi- media installation informed by ethnographic understandings, Curran’s practice presently focuses upon the role and representation of globalised landscapes in the predatory context of migrations of global capital.