Peering into the secret, spooky world of the Stasi
“Hohenschönhausen Vernehmertrakt 1” (detail). A hallway in a Stasi prison leads to interrogation rooms.
Image: Daniel & Geo Fuchs/Courtesy Nikolaj Kunsthal
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When the Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago this November, the Soviet-backed regime that had ruled East Germany as a police state for 40 years quickly dissolved. What they left behind was an architecture of surveillance and control—office buildings and jails that were unremarkable from the outside, their interiors hidden from public view, except for the unlucky people dragged in for interrogations, confinement, or worse.
A decade ago, Daniel and Geo Fuchs, photographers who grew up in West Germany, began documenting the remnants of the German Democratic Republic. Some of the Stasi buildings were ransacked in the months after the wall fell. Others were left alone and remained in a state of slow decay.
The empty rooms still menace, but they draw the eye as well. With some of the photos, it’s even possible to squint and see an uncanny version of a 1960s modernist furniture catalog. Only the walls are cramped, the carpets worn, and the lights a little too harsh.
To mark the anniversary of the Berlin Wall, a new exhibition of the Fuchs’ photos is on view until October 5 at Nikolaj Kunsthal, a public gallery in Copenhagen, offering a rare view into these rooms. Here’s a selection of images from the show.
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