The Collection: Timeline

“It began, as many great ideas do, with a simple observation. It was 1948 and Walter Kempowski sat, hungry and dirty, in a freight car that was take him to Bautzen, having been sentenced to 25 years forced labour by a Soviet court martial. During a halt he peered through a crack in the boards to see a couple strolling along, she in a floral dress, he in knickerbockers, walking in the sunshine without a care in the world. He realised with a shock the parallel nature of the irreconcilable. How much happiness and sadness, the harmless and the tragic, life-threatening and idyllic are compiled in every second around the world! This is as endless, as incomprehensible as the numbers that lay between one and two.”  (Iris Radisch on Walter Kempowski, “Das Echolot, Abgesang ’45, Ein kollektives Tagebuch”)

The idea for the photographic collection follows on from this description. It is based on the simultaneous and disparate nature of events between August 1989 and January 1990. Photographers were requested to supply a key image for this historically significant period. Some provided one image, others several. There is not one photograph for each day. The gaps in the calendar are subsequently also a component of the project. In the foreground is the far-reaching gaze, compiling items of historic and personal significance and marginal occurrences in equal measure, without attempting the definitive recording or even representation of key historic events. In this way, “For the record” is a multi-perspective chronicle of autumn 1989. A linear narration has been deliberately avoided. Most of the photographs seen here were taken almost coincidentally. It is only with hindsight that they have been selected from the archives by the authors as a witness of that time. Almost all have written down their recollections or added text documents from the time at which they were created.