Photographs by Daniel Poller
23rd June to 1st August 2020
Galerie Poll is pleased to present Daniel Poller’s current work, Final Version of the Proposed Resolution, for the first time in a solo exhibition. The thirty-nine photographs were taken during the demolition of the Institute for Teacher Training at the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam in 2018 on the city’s Old Market Square. The exhibition will be accompanied by the publication of a volume with the press Edizione Multicolore, which is also available as a special edition with a numbered print.
In 2018 Daniel Poller used an artist grant from the Stiftung Kunstfonds Bonn to engage with the planned restoration of Potsdam’s historic city centre: the Old Market Square with the St. Nicholas’ Church, the Old City Hall, reconstructions of the City Palace and the Palais Barberini, the Garrison Church, a computer centre, and the demolition of GDR architecture, such as the university institute, which was built in the 1970s.
The photographs show the destruction of this outstanding example of GDR modernism by excavators and a wrecking ball. Those familiar with architectural history see in this building echoes or even a copy of the Home Federal Savings and Loan building designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1962 in Des Moines (Iowa). Bare concrete, chipped tiles, rubble, rusty rebar, and pipes bent against each other reveal the brute force of the demolition, which was ordered by the Potsdam city council despite numerous protests. These details are juxtaposed with photographs of the square’s overall ensemble which show the almost scenic layers of different architectural epochs.
Views of the exhibition, © Photos: dotgain.info
“As happened earlier in Berlin, where all representative facades of East German modernism were covered with the same sandstone envelope, here too all traces of modernism are expected to disappear – especially if they are remnants of the defeated system. What they are trying to do at the Old Market Square is to completely erase everything which was built during the GDR era,” wrote Niklas Maak and Claudius Seidl in 2017 in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
The reinterpretation of architecture in urban space and a resulting rewriting of history is a central theme in Daniel Poller’s work. Compaction, inversion, and recurrence are predominant methods of his critical investigations. In approaching his subjects, Poller is also repeatedly faced with boredom. This was the case, for instance, on one of the many occasions he spent time waiting near the rubble field of the university, when he had to wait for the construction workers to finish their lunch break before he was able to document the ongoing demolition. In the meantime he discovered a small bird repeatedly flying through the same parts of the ruin. Apparently in search of its nest, the black redstart fluttered about, disoriented, until the excavators continued their work.
The title of the series refers to a draft resolution for the eighth session of the Potsdam city council, held on 24th October 1990. This resolution directed the city administration “to stop the further decay of Potsdam’s remaining genuine historical buildings and to develop a long-term concept for a responsible and careful rapprochement with the characteristic cityscape as it has developed historically.”
Daniel Poller, born 1984 in Rodewisch, completed his studies in 2017 at the Academy of Fine Arts (Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst) in Leipzig as a master’s student of professors Peggy Buth and Joachim Brohm. He has received numerous scholarships, including an artist grant from the Stiftung Kunstfonds in 2018. In 2015 he was awarded the Aenne Biermann Prize for Contemporary German photography (Gera) and in 2017 the European Architectural Photography Prize (Frankfurt am Main). His works can be found in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, the Deutsches Architekturmuseum Frankfurt am Main, and the n.b.k. Video forum. In its much-discussed issue #235, Rechte Räume 2019, the magazine ARCH+ printed an excerpt of Poller’s work Frankfurt Copies, which deals with the reconstruction of Frankfurt’s historic city centre, and commissioned the artist to develop an extensive work on Berlin architecture since 1990 for an exhibition at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein. Daniel Poller lives and works in Leipzig and Berlin.