2015-2017 | Pictures for a Book
The TV tower at Berlin’s Alexanderplatz looks like an extra in Daniele Ansidei’s images of the reconstruction of the shopping center. The prominent Berlin landmark remains in the background: sometimes cropped, sometimes a point of reference disappearing in the fog. Instead, the focus is on what’s happening on the ground – the changes taking place amongst the plastic sheeting, construction hoarding, steel girders, and wall sections. Over two years, and without adhering to a stationary or chronological documentation process, he photographed the reconstruction of the shopping center, previously known as “Berlin Carré”, which in the 1990s represented the new face of post-reunification consumption.
Over the two years, he repeatedly photographed each phase of the reconstruction, providing an overview of the transformational process through shifting perspectives. He directed his observations both inwards and outwards, repeating motifs such as the TV tower. The images reveal a site of commerce, by focusing above all on what sets that commerce in motion. Particularly striking are the transportation infrastructures, especially the stairways. A brightly lit spiral staircase seductively winds its way through a darkened area under construction. The plastic-wrapped new conveyor belts in the Kaufland store frequently appear until finally, they emerge from their plastic covers and rather majestically demonstrate their operational capacity. The attention paid to layering in the images – historical as well as architectural – is of no more coincidence than the focus on transportation. The images reveal an energy that turns this place into a spatial structure and transforms the touristy Alexanderplatz from commercial center to consumer paradise.
What Ansidei succeeds with his images is, therefore, a precise exploration and complex portrayal of this place through shifting camera perspectives: its history is recorded as a dialogue with the social outside, which doesn’t just show the way to a promising future, from past to present and old to new, but rather creates a moment of reflection about the breaks and gaps of continuous transformation.
Text by Agnieszka Roguski