Powerhouse Youth

Talents 28 . Daniel Seiffert / Agneta Jilek
July 14 2012 until September 11 2012
A.d.S. Kraftwerk Jugend © Daniel Seiffert
A.d.S. Kraftwerk Jugend © Daniel Seiffert
A.d.S. Kraftwerk Jugend © Daniel Seiffert
A.d.S. Kraftwerk Jugend © Daniel Seiffert
© Marc Volk
© Marc Volk

"The big city’s got nothing on friends. Three are still left around Finsterwalde, holding their own in the parking lot and watching the cars head south. Behind the field after the game, the evening belongs to the curtains. And the forest keeps silent, and then after a while everything quiets down." 
From the song "Finsterwalde" by Jacques Palminger & Erobique

The southeast corner of the German state of Brandenburg. An important industrial region during GDR times, the area is gripped today by recession, unemployment, and population decline—a process that manifests itself in the urban landscape of towns like Finsterwalde, Hoyerswerder, and Lübbenau and in the social relationships there. How do young people grow up in a place whose population is constantly declining as it ages? Over the space of a year, Daniel Seiffert documented the effects of this disintegration in the lives of Lübbenau teenagers whose personal evolution often runs counter—and sometimes in direct opposition—to the developments in the place where they live. The kaleidoscope of images he produced there revolves around the volatile state of flux between adolescence and adulthood, a frequently addressed theme in art. His images are pervaded by a universal sense of reflection and new beginnings—one that is even palpable in the small towns of East Germany.

Among the color photographs that make up the series Powerplant Youth, portrait photographs of Lübbenau’s teen generation predominate. In them, Seiffert shows how young people take possession of their town by day and by night, congregating in neglected and abandoned industrial wastelands, at the skate park, at bus stops, and in the green spaces and playgrounds surrounding the socialist-era prefab apartment complexes. He shows how they spend their free time out in public, alone or in groups—some of them seem to be waiting for something, others have been captured in the middle of an indecipherable movement. He shows how they spend their time in abandoned industrial “non-places” that are devoid of all identity, infusing them with new meanings—even simply because they mark the walls with their spray-painted tags. The protagonists in this series not only share a similar background; they are also around the same but, all born after 1989 and thus into a reunified Germany. Only their parents’ stories and the architectural relics of the East German (GDR) period, which can still be found in public plazas throughout the Brandenburg town, bear direct witness to the "first socialist state on German soil."