AS FAR AS NO EYE CAN SEE
PANORAMIC PHOTOGRAPHS OF BERLIN, 1949–1952
Photographs taken by Fritz Tiedemann
Reconstructed and interpreted by Arwed Messmer
After WW 2, rubble clearance had made considerable progress and rebuild had begun, a remarkable photographic inventory was done in East Berlin. By order of the magistrate of the capital of the GDR the photographer Fritz Tiedemann documented central places and areas that were of importance concerning the urban planning in the early 50s. He captured the Pariser Platz and the Schloßplatz area as well as the works on the Walter Ulbricht Stadium or a sand storage area in the outskirts. In order to adequately picture the void and the vastness of the destroyed city as well as the remaining urban structures, the photographer made horizontal turns with the camera and thus produced sequences that -- once brought together -- turned into panoramic pictures.
The concealed quality of these pictures was lately discovered by Berlin photographer Arwed Messmer. By means of digital mounting of the sequences he created synthetic large-size pictorial worlds that show the destroyed Berlin as an empty stage. Thus inspired, the Photo Archive of the East Berlin magistrate, preserved by the Berlinische Galerie and documented in the catalogue “Ost-Berlin und seine Bauten. Fotografien 1945–1990”/”East Berlin Architecture”, was searched through anew. Thus the exhibition operates at the interface between applied photography and new photographic technology as well as between collective memory and an unfamiliar optic experience.
14. Februar 1915 Hamburg - 23. November 2001 Münster, Westfalen
The identity behind the name "Tiedemann" could be clarified during the course of the exhibition. A former colleague of Fritz Tiedemann as well as descendents of the photographer learned about the exhibition due to the nationwide media coverage and contacted the museum.
As a professional surveying technician Fritz Tiedemann received additional specialist qualification as a topographer during his military service. His photographic skills and expertise were of great importance for the documentation of wartime damage and a visual basis for future urban planning. Indeed, his photographs can be considered as new documents showing the vastness and emptyness of the destroyed city.
In February 1948 he began working as a photographer for the Berlin Historic Buildings´ and Memorials´ Conservation Office. In October 1949 due to the political division of Greater Berlin he was to continue his work for the East Berlin government´s city planning office. Besides historical aspects the documentation then also focused on the architectural development of East Berlin as is also displayed by the exhibition´s panoramic photographs.
On February 28, 1953 Fritz Tiedemann was arrested by the East German police forces for his attempts to have West Berlin authorities share in those historically valuable photographs. He was tried and imprisoned and after the events of June 17, 1953 granted amnesty. Together with his family he subsequently fled to West Germany where he was acknowledged as political refugee. In January 1954 he took up work as a topographer with a company called Plan und Karte, later Hansa Luftbild, in Münster, Westphalia, where he remained employed until his retirement in 1978.
Photography had not only been part of Fritz Tiedmann´s professional activities, it was in fact his life-long passion, the results of which are considered by his family as a great heritage.
Born in 1964, Messmer studied photography at Fachhochschule Dortmund.
After an early series on East German landscapes in the early 1990s, Messmer explored the topography of modern cities in his work. Since then he has photographed the rebuilding of Berlin again and again. His focus is not only on the visible metamorphoses that took place in architecture, but also the historical dimension of these sites that filters, as it were, our perception of today’s reality. In 2006, during the course of research for his project “Anonyme Mitte”, Messmer came pon Tiedemann’s photographs at Berlinische Galerie and developed the idea for this exhibition.
For their kind support we would like to thank:
Dresdner Bank AG
GASAG Berliner Gaswerke AG
Förderverein Berlinische Galerie. e. V.
Senatskanzlei - Kulturelle Angelegenheiten des Regierenden Bürgermeisters von Berlin