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Deutsches Technikmuseum - New Arrivals: Resettling the Uckermark

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The Websites of the donation Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin at a glance:

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The donation contains six locations:

B/W-photo: Toralf standing in the middle of his dark, spotlit workshop, his six-year-old son on his shoulder. They are looking at a large block of stone into which Toralf is chiselling a face. His other son is standing in front of a finished head

Sculptor Toralf, Christianenhof (2004)
Toralfs sculpture workshop took shape in the storerooms of a former collective farm.

B/W-photo: Stephanie and Thilo sitting side by side on a cylindrical tank that collects rainwater from the gutter. At their feet are two old milk cans. There are plants growing up the wall in the background.

Stephanie and Thilo, Hedwigshof (2002)
She flower arranger, he stonemason and musician, and their children found an alternative to city life

B/W-photo: Reinhard, with round glasses, beard and chin-length blonde hair tied with a thin leather headband, sitting at the desk with his arms crossed. The lampshade is an old straw hat.

Reinhard, Beenz (2002)
Reinhard (cook) is a man of many talents. Today he is making ends meet by growing vegetables and helping with the harvest

New Arrivals: Resettling the Uckermark

Special exhibition in the gallery of our section "Photo technology"

28 February to 15 July 2012

B/W-photo: The family in front of their beautifully renovated manor house, which is decked out with window boxes. From left to right: grandmother Gudrun, Georg (64), and Ilsa Marie (46)

The von H. family, Gut Wilsickow (2004) - Family von H. bought back the manor house and turned it into a children’s home.

No water, no electricity, no heating? What on earth motivates graphic artists, teachers and engineers to give up good jobs and move to live in derelict isolated houses in Brandenburg? In many cases a new start is what they are looking for.

In forty photo and text portraits collected between 2002 and 2008 photographer and journalist Roland Köhler tells the stories of these modern settlers. What they have in common is their search for new freedoms and ways of living, which they discover, adopt and shape in their own personal ways.

The Uckermark region in the north-eastern corner of Brandenburg is one of Germany’s most thinly populated regions. Despite being a popular holiday destination, the area has suffered a steady process of depopulation. The fateful consequences are well-known: jobs, schools, village shops, pubs and cinemas disappear. In some parts the letterbox is the last surviving public service for those who remain, mostly the old. In some cases whole villages have been abandoned and left to decay.

B/W-photo: Werner and Katrin leaning against each other and smiling happily, wearing t-shirts and shorts. They are in a sunny meadow, with tall trees and two geodesic greenhouses in the background.

Katrin and Werner in their personal paradise near Fahrenwalde (2004) - They strive to live in harmony with nature "in a place where it still seems possible to connect the spiritual and material worlds".

The new arrivals show us how they have been literally putting the life back into a region that appeared to have been completely written off. They reveal their backgrounds, motivations and experiences, making no secret of setbacks and disappointments. Some are seeking peace and quiet in a rural idyll, others hoping to spare their children the stress, noise and fumes of the city. Or they simply found their personal paradise by accident in the "Tuscany of the north".

They tell of hard work in residential, business and cultural projects, and not least of the fascination exerted by the landscape and natural environment of their new home, the Uckermark.

Header photo: Harry, mechanic, Schmölln (2004)

© All photographies: Roland Köhler