Filmstaub Altes Gaswerk

Series of 40 black and white photographs 1982/83, digital development of damaged negatives, 2014, each 32 x 20 cm

In 1982/83 the artist took photos on the site of a former gasworks in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg.
The demolition work had just begun. One by one, the water tower, units, chimneys and finally the listed gasometers were blown up. The residential area “Thälmannpark” was created – along with the huge steel Thälmann monument that still exists today; this had already been erected in 1982 as a 1:1 scale model made of fabric.

To mark the anniversary (30 years since the gasometers were demolished and the citizens of Prenzlauer Berg protested), Betina Kuntzsch reviewed her negatives and selected the images that were wrongly exposed or insufficiently developed. These motifs, hardly recognisable in the negative, were digitally enhanced. Along with the buildings, the processing also revealed film dirt, dust, scratches, water stains or cracks in the film layer.


Filmstaub Altes Gaswerk Film Dust Old Gasworks An exhibition title that poses a riddle. The old gasworks refers to the IV. Berliner Gasanstalt, which started operations in Prenzlauer Berg in 1873 and supplied the district with illuminating and town gas for 108 years. And of course with soot and various other environmental toxins. Nobody cried a tear for the latter. But the three gasometers, one of them with an impressive dome, shaped the cityscape and became a landmark for the residents. But how does the film dust get into the Old Gasworks? The sprawling industrial site also served as a film set, but the set designers hardly needed special film dust at this location. In three photographs we see props left behind. At the moment of recording, it had already become a relic itself. Like the advertising pillar in front of the “metal workshop”, the so-called UTP barracks, where Betina Kuntzsch also received lessons in technical production as a pupil. Another prop was the vintage car, which can be seen in the picture entitled “Film set” and next to it in “Vintage car”, where it can only be guessed at dimly. Just as if he were immersed in black film dust.

Of course, we are not talking about the commercially available mineral rock dust used for dust effects and explosions on stages, in film or television. The artist gives the term its own meaning and visualises the dust that has become embedded in the film layer. Don’t wipe it away, but make it consciously visible and thus also time.

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Filmstaub Altes Gaswerk, Galerie Mönch Berlin, 6. Europäischer Monat der Fotografie Berlin (Eurpean Month of Photography), 2014