In 2017 I visited Berlin with a roll of film that expired in 1990. My goal was to photograph places and symbols of the former East German nation, which expired in the same year as my film. I was given unique access to the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial, which served as the political prison for the East German Ministry for State Security (Stasi.) This visit appeal to me in many ways. As a photographer, it was an honor to be allowed to photograph those parts of the prison not available to the public. The dust on the gates, the delay of the lights after flicking the switch, and the smell of the cells all gave the project a feel of immediacy. It also appealed to my previous lives in public history and journalism. I immediately understood that this is a story that needs to be documented and shared. With 2020 being the 30th anniversary of German reunification, it's the perfect time to have these stories told.
Almost two years after my visit to Hohenschönhausen, I hope to expand this project on a grander scale -- traveling to the different regions of the former East Germany and photographing the range of life that existed in GDR society. This includes landmarks, streets, and the people that lived there and their children. This journey will take me from Berlin, to other former East German cities like Leipzig, Magdeburg and Chemnitz, and other "off-the-path" places with historical and cultural relevance.
All photography will be done from January-March of 2019, leaving enough time for development, printing and marketing before 2020. I'll exclusively be using those cameras and lenses that would have been available to East Germans just prior to reunification. The result should be images that, while taken in 2019, could also look like photos whose subjects have aged thirty years.
All of the funding for this project will go toward film, film processing, and minimal travel costs. Funding will not be used for photographic equipment or anything that would be used beyond this specific project. It's important for me that all funds go into making these images come to life. If funding goes beyond my target, the additional funds will go toward purchasing even more film and expanding the scope of the project.
My timeline is short and with photography starting in January, I hope to acquire my funding as soon as possible. By contributing to this project, you are not just helping me tell a story, but you are becoming a storyteller yourself. This isn't an attempt to make a political statement. These photos will not celebrate capitalism nor will they pine for the days of socialism. They will instead document a once globally-significant world and the people that lived inside it. It will explore where they lived and worked and the sources of their fears and happiness. By contributing, you're joining me on this journey of storytelling and giving the past a new voice.