Friday, 23 April 2010

Philipp Lohöfener

Philipp Lohöfener has just won the Professional Architecture Award at the Sony World Photography Awards 2010 with his pictures of former investigation-prison of the GDR State Security (Stasi), Hohenschönhausen/Berlin Secretariat, prison-hospital.

Lohöfener says, “Hohenschönhausen is the former prison used to house detainees of the East German State Security, better known as the ‘Stasi’. From 1951 until 1989, the Stasi detained thousands of political prisoners at Hohenschönhausen prison, including many notable figures that opposed the GDR government and its policies. During this time the prison was never noted on East German maps. The area was simply left blank.
The goal of Hohenschönhausen prison staff was to destabilize prisoners in order to generate a feeling of total powerlessness. Prisoners were never informed as to where they were being held and were essentially sealed off from the outside world. To incapacitate them further, they were also kept in strict isolation from their fellow prisoners. The effect of such conditions was to break down the prisoners so that they felt totally at the mercy of an almighty state authority.
Interrogations were particularly cruel at the prison. Detainees were often subjected to months of interrogation in which highly trained interrogators employed extreme methods to extract incriminating information. This often included torture.
In the autumn of 1989 the Berlin Wall came down and with it came the dismantling of the Stasi and its prisons. On 3 October, 1990, when the German Democratic Republic was incorporated into the Federal Republic of Germany, the Hohenschönhausen prison was finally closed.”

Above are images from the award winning work as well as other work including abandoned hospital buildings in Beelitz and the empty Broadcasting House, Nalepastraße in Berlin.

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